I have been a lurker for resources on the #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blogosphere for my non-Twitter readers) since it’s inception. And let me tell you–this is an awesome community. Today I would like to contribute to the MTBoS with my first blog post. In my blog I will share resources from my own classroom, comment on how things are going in my classroom, give ways I incorporate technology, and describe some activities I do with my own daughters (6 and 4) to ignite their mathematical curiosity.
This week I attended my first Twitter Math Camp (#TMC16). For the past four years I didn’t feel I could talk to other math teachers online that I haven’t met in person. After attending TMC I know that I was being silly, but at the time it made me uncomfortable. Since I got home Tuesday I needed a few days to step outside of my teacher self to know my true feelings on what I just experienced. Was it just the energy of being around 200 other amazing, passionate math teachers? Would the clock strike midnight and I would be whisked away leaving all the magic in Minneapolis? Would I forget everything I promised myself I would pursue when I got home? Not a chance.
Around no other person or group of people do I feel so determined to a better math teacher. The positivity by everyone at Augsburg was infectious. Even though I was mentally tired I am now somehow reenergized to begin the new school year. Some organizers love this group so much they stayed up until 3:00am writing lyrics for the TMC song in order to express their love for the teachers in attendance at the closing session.
I am still trying to synthesize everything I have learned. I am overwhelmed, but in a good way. I learned that the other MTBoS teachers are just like me. They are not trying to impress anyone. They are simply sharing resources and discussing math in an attempt to improve our profession as a whole. But more importantly, the members are trying to find a connection with other teachers like themselves that they may not get from daily face-to-face encounters. Some days being a math teacher can be isolating. How many people get excited over a free radian-scale protractor?!?
Like many of you, I currently have dozens of tabs open in my browser with articles and resources waiting to be read. At the conference I figured out early on that my big takeaways from TMC16 would be from the three keynote speakers. Don’t get me wrong. This was a tough decision as I gained so much from ALL of my sessions, especially Demystifying Calculus where I sat for three mornings and we just did math with other math teachers–it was amazing and inspiring. Thanks Bruce Cohen (@mathcohen) for leading a valuable session.
Keynote 1: Jose Vilson (@TheJLV) I know now that I can and should be discussing race in my classroom. After the tragedies going on around our country, now more than ever we need to be discussing race and the discrimination going on in our country. We need to be open to talking about race and discrimination with our students. I am not quite sure how I will implement or approach this yet, but I am open to ideas.
Keynote 2: Tracy Zager (@TracyZager) One of my goals this school year is to work with elementary and middle school math teachers in my district. Last year I sat in on one 5th grade teacher’s math lesson and it was an amazing experience. We have some outstanding teachers in our district and I am looking forward to reaching out to them. I learned from Tracy that we often times don’t get together because we are scared of each other. We need to step out of our comfort zone in order to grow. I don’t know how many teachers in my district I will get to join the MTBoS but I will continue to invite them.
Keynote 3: Dylan Kane (@math8_teacher) discussed something I’ve always pondered in the back of my mind, but after this speech the lightbulb came on. He shared that just because we find an amazing resource doesn’t mean it will translate to a good lesson in the classroom. We are obligated to plan a well thought out lesson plan with essential questions and formative assessments to follow up. The MTBoS has a ton of resources but it is my responsibility as an educator to combine the resources with sound pedagogy to the best of my ability. I have learned this the hard way as I have had an amazing card sort or other lesson that fell flat because I did not ask good questions or didn’t close the lesson. I will continue to try harder. We all are just trying to improve each day.
Lisa Henry (@lmhenry9): For telling us we are great. Because we are. And for being the lead organizer for Twitter Math Camp. TMC16 was an outstanding experience. Thank-you, Lisa.
Glenn Waddell (@gwaddellnvhs): Your speech was very moving. You said to yourself on your motorcycle trip, “You can give up right now. You can turn around and no one will ever care. And no one will ever know.” I have a similar, but less ambitious, story. I was new to TMC this year. I wanted to attend the newbie dinner, but instead of walking through the doors on Saturday night I cowered in my hotel room. I did not face my fear. However, the next day Alex Overwijk (@AlexOverwijk) asked me to join his Trivia Night team, so I did walk through the doors of Republic on Sunday night, and I had an awesome time. Thank-you, Glenn and Alex.
Finally, thank-you to all of you whose resources I have borrowed…ok, let’s be honest, stolen…over the past five years: You have truly influenced me and impacted my teaching and I am forever grateful.
I am excited to start sharing my classroom experience with you. Follow me at @MAllmanAHS . I am looking forward to Atlanta next summer tweeps!