I’ve said it several times already, but I live for Twitter Math Camp. As soon as the dates and location are announced I put it on my calendar, announce it on Facebook, and tell my boyfriend that the weekend is reserved. I live for this week of community and math and teaching.
But man, it’s exhausting.
We spend all day talking about teaching and math and getting excited about all the amazing stuff that everyone else is doing. Sessions go all day and then conversation goes late into the night. It’s invigorating and inspiring and I’ve said on numerous occasions that I’m the teacher I am because of it. But I swear if it was more than once a year I would burn out so quickly. Maybe if we saw each other more often we wouldn’t all feel the need to cram as much as possible into the weekend? Who knows.
I’m rushing to get through this before breakfast, so I’m being sloppy about links. I can find all of the stuff that I write about here, just ask.
Day 2 started with a short My Favorites session. First Heather Kohn spoke about her “Engineering Design Process” activities, and how they related to Mathematical Thinking process. I think I want to adapt some of that, because my kids are TERRIBLE so far at working through new problems. Then Dave Sobol did something interesting with maps and Voronoi diagrams, which looked cool, and Anna B talked about feedback meetings that give her less work grading. She had a great quote that paraphrases to things that invigorate you, even if they take more time, will be more sustaining to you as a teacher in the long run. This is something that I’ve thought for a while ,but haven’t been able to put into words. Energy is a much better resource for me than time, and I need to be aware of conserving it.
Our morning session is still going really well. Numerous people have said “Wait, that was two hours? It goes so fast!” We way, way, way overplanned the session and there’s just not enough time to cover everything AND give work time. But as long as people are still getting stuff out of it I’m happy. Only one more morning left!
After lunch we had another short My Favorites. Sam talked about his “Explore! Math!“, which looks so amazing. I was already planning on doing it this year to help preview kids for the IB math explorations, but this just reminded me why I’m so excited about it. Then David Wees talked a bit about taking time now to work on making better questions, and Connie H talked about her recent trip to Rwanda. Her stories are pretty powerful and helped take me out of my bubble a bit (but in a great way).
We then had a keynote by Tracy Zager, which was fantastic. Funny but meaningful, with specific content and specific calls to action that really made me think. There are recordings of it that I don’t have time to find right now, but please take an hour and check it out. Her call that we work on diversifying our Professional Learning Network to cover all of K – 12 really inspired me to spend more time talking and working with elementary school teachers. Too often I think “I’m teaching 11th graders, that’s a different conversation than #elemchat.” But the fact is it’s not, and we can learn a ton from each other. I was talking to Wendy after the fact and she suggested a vertical integration PLT for MfA NYC and that seems like a great idea.
The first afternoon session I attended was by Nicole B about Identity, specifically the identity of being a “Math Person.” She opened by talking a bit about all of the identities we have and how powerful those identities are. I need to stop letting anyone around me say “I’m not a math person” because it’s so damaging to general attitudes toward math. I always try to encourage all of my kids to think of themselves as capable but I really want to step that up this year, from day 1.
The second afternoon session was by Jonathan , about hacking curriculum to pieces. He started with a marble race video, which I’m not sure had anything to do with the presentation but was super engaging and memorable. And I think it speaks to his classroom culture and personality very well. We then looked at standards and talked about grouping things by Action words instead of topic. He starts his year with focusing on equation solving instead of focusing on linear functions. He covers all the same material but just in a different way, and I admire his fearlessness in just turning things on their head and doing them in a different way. Especially in Algebra 2 the general order of the class can be a little arbitrary, and it’s nice to shake things up.
For dinner, we went to RePUBlic because Mathalicious sponsored a trivia night. It was hard, but our team won!
The night was super subdued because we’re all exhausted, but I met up with Jonathan and we went to Julie’s room to talk about how he does his notebooks, and just to chat in general about teaching. I say all the time that this is my favorite part of TMC. I love finding people at all hours, in all places, and talking about math. Last year, after the second day, everyone was leaving the building and someone turned to me and, in an amazed tone, “I can’t believe everyone is STILL geeking out about math here. They never stop!” And it’s true. We’re always looking for each other to learn more and to celebrate success and be better together. And it’s super, super amazing, and I love this place, and I value it.
But man, it’s exhausting.