Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Life Changing Professional Development #TMC14

This past weekend I was able to attend Twitter Math Camp 2014 (TMC14) in Jenks, Oklahoma. Looking back at last year's recap, I realized how much my teaching has changed in the last year, mostly due to Twitter Math Camp 2013. It was such a great experience, and I knew going to TMC14 was a non-negotiable.

Then I started thinking, "Why was TMC13 so powerful and life changing for me?" I think the answer is more about my mindset and less about the things I learned. Being around teachers from all over the place, who all love their jobs and want to be the best possible teachers they can be is transformative and contagious. It's not something that is as powerful via Twitter and blogs. It's something that happens when 150 fantastic teachers are in the same room for 4 days straight. That is TMC.

I think the most impactful thing from TMC this year for me is realizing that none of us really have it all figured out. Last year, I felt so inadequate and unworthy to be in the same room as these people because I just wasn't a good enough teacher. STUPID, I know. We all come to TMC because we know there are still things for us to learn and things that we have figured out that we are able to share with others. We have also all figured out that it's okay to ask questions, not know the best answer, and work towards the best solution together. Bonus: it's so fun to talk math with other people who LOVE talking math.

Morning Session - Pre-Calculus

This was probably my favorite. I will be new to Pre-Cal this school year, so I went in with some fears of being terrible teaching a new subject. After this weekend, many of those fears have been washed away. We shared so many ideas, activities, and strategies and created some things for Inverse Trig, Vectors, and Conics. (All things I might struggle with!) I remembered more than I thought I would, and I realized that I am going to be just fine. If I get stuck, I have all these wonderful new friends to work through it with.

Afternoon Sessions - Some of the highlights

Math Maintenance - This session was all about making your warm-ups more meaningful and structuring them in a way that allows you to spiral curriculum or review previous year's information without spending weeks reviewing topics. I envision using this to review my kids' algebra skills to help them succeed in PreCal and Calculus.

My Favorites - I got lots of little nuggets from these shorter presentations. New ideas for games and posters in my room, reminders to teach crazy and trust children, and saying two nice things.

Stats with Hedge - If you don't know @approx_normal (how can you not?), you need to meet her. She's the best! We got to play with cheap toys and ponder ways we might use this in our classrooms. Thinking outside the box is not always my strong suit, so good practice for me. I also got to shoot my coworkers with kid toys. Bonus: she gave me a marshmallow gun that I am only allowed to use for good. Yeah, right.

Keynote Speakers - saving the best for last

Steve Leinwand spoke on Thursday and transformed my thinking of education. He's a great speaker and a humble human being. He reminded us that it's necessary for us as teachers to acknowledge different ways of thinking about things. He presented it in such a powerful way that made me want to walk into my classroom tomorrow. Also, Steve and his wife Ann went to Rwanda to do the gorilla trek about a month before I went on my first mission trip there. We got to share stories. Cool stuff people.

Dan Meyer is a giant and hilarious. I did not understand the extent to which these facts are true until Friday. He discussed in great detail the stats for #MTBoS vs #TMC and how there is a very definite us vs. them. What makes us the same/different? Interesting things to ponder and ask questions about.

Eli Luberoff is the creator of Desmos, the coolest free online calculator ever. (Fangirl moment: Eli played cards with us one night and then started following me on Twitter.) His speech involved nerdgams when he showed us all the cool new things Desmos can do and testing the new lesson "Central Park." If you haven't looked at their online activities, do it NOW.


So yeah, my life has been changed yet again by a spectacular TMC. I am rejuvenated to start a new school year, plan a new course, and be the best class sponsor possible. Some of my goals for the year include: making my classroom more application/explanation based (prove to me why you know what you know), surviving year 1 of teaching Pre-Calculus, continuing my 180 blog, blogging about my classroom at least once a month, and committing to read other people's blogs as much as possible.

Fun things:
1. Road-trippin with 4 of my coworkers is kind of awesome.
2. I listened to more 90s music than I knew existed.
3. 5 people from Houston can get lost in an itty bitty town really easily.
4. Cupcakes are still the delicious.
5. We played with water guns at the Riverwalk. The children won.
6. #TMCrunners grew this year!
7. @rawrdimus and @froynboy have exceptional dance moves especially when listening to Katy Perry and Mariah Carey.

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