Belated #TMC17 reflections and my #1TMCThing(s)

So, this is a weird year for my blog. Normally I write a reflection post for every single day I’m at Twitter Math Camp. This year, the first day of TMC was also the day that hashtag-gate started. This is where I should probably link to Dan’s original post, but I think it’s gotten enough attention, and the whole thing still makes me angry. Other people have done a far better job of describing my feelings than I can (here, here, and most especially here), and I’ve gone back and forth with people on twitter about it. At this point I recognize that A) I’m not going to say something new to change people’s minds and B) everyone seems to be moving on. I’ve been less successful at moving on, ironically because of all the work I see being done to address concerns raised in that post. But at this point anything I type here will not improve the general state of things. So instead I’m going to try to focus on bigger things I got out of TMC.

The most notable thing, which I talked about with everyone, was Chris Shore’s clothesline math explanation. I had been to the Clothesline Math website before, and watched the various videos, but I kept getting hung-up on the idea that it was amazing for number sense in lower grades but not so useful for me in high school. Then Chris showed one example with vertical angles and *BOOM* everyone’s head exploded. Suddenly we were thinking about equality in a completely different way and it was CRAZY. I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to use it this year, but I definitely want to. It’s sort of my #2TMCthing this year.

I also went to the Breakout EDU session, which was so much fun. We managed to solve the puzzle down to the wire. I do think if I ever did it in my classes I’d want more mathematical puzzles that the kids had to solve, but I can also see it as a great vehicle to discuss softer skills like problem solving and collaboration and honoring each other’s voices.

All three of the keynotes this year were fantastic in my opinion. Grace’s speech managed to call us out on our social-justice issues while also giving a path forward, which is exactly what that kind of speech should always have. Graham‘s speech was good fun and reminded us to think about what our community teaches us. Carl‘s speech was everything I wish Dan’s blogpost had been. It was a fun look back at our group and a call to do more. Videos of all of them are available here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYBZBns1q6SLIx7RIuQNKWViI8JaGLSed

There were a bunch of other little ideas I got from people this year (bells to celebrate math, ways to create a more positive culture, resources for the group), but honestly this year was more about just getting to know people in the community better. I feel like I just got to know more people a lot better. And I had a lot more interactions that started with “Oh, you’re Mattie B”, which for the record is a really weird way to start conversations. And Sam’s big “1” buttons meant that I reached out to more people I didn’t know. And all of them seemed to be truly enjoying themselves.

Which sort of leads me into my #1TMCthing for this year: I am going to work to make the #MTBoS a more comfortable place for newbies. I’ve already started a MTBoS Ambassadors program, and I’m going to continue doing local workshops in NYC to get more people involved. Because I think this community is amazing, and they’ve helped me so much. I don’t know how we can feasibly get much bigger than we are, but I’m going to put in the work to at least try. It seems to be working out so far, but I’ll be curious to see how momentum carries us into the school year.