My favorite week of the year has come and gone, it's time for some Twitter Math Camp Reflections. Really, it's an examination of my greater participation in this community and how a group of anonymous people in my timeline have become real friends.
The real fascinating part has been watching the careers evolve all of the amazing people I have met through this conference, convention, family reunion, whatever you want to call it. On the surface it was professional development for teachers by teachers, and everyone gave a crap. Now you look around the room and you see people who write professional curriculum, work for Desmos, have written books, have won the biggest award in math education, have become math specialists, have risen in the ranks of NCTM committees, and on and on. There are some real influencers in math education in the room, and all of them still give a crap. More importantly, the percent of newcomers to TMC is always great. By wandering around the country, the conference always has a healthy population of local teachers who have heard the hype and want to see what things are about. All the newcomers I talked to said it was the greatest conference they'd been to. That really says something.
It's also amazing to see newcomers continue to volunteer to present or get up in front of the group with a My Favorite. As David Butler put it "everyone is worthy of presenting."
What's my role now in this community? I started as a wide-eyed participant in 2013, in awe that so many people from the scattered corners of the country could care so much about teaching math well. In recent years I have tried to share some yearly nugget to help contribute to that awe, to keep people coming back to TMC and walking away knowing it was the best week of the year. And that participation is starting to expand beyond TMC. This was immediately apparent when walking in the door to Desmos headquarters before TMC (and even before then at NCTM in April) and seeing so many familiar faces. These weren't just teachers I saw once a year, these were friends. We walked away TMC knowing that next time isn't so far away.
There have been so many humbling moments this year. To those who have found inspiration from what I have to share and those who tell me how much they like hearing my latest goofy classroom story or My Favorite, all I can say is thank you. I am inspired by all of you equally. To those of you new to TMC, I am so happy you had a great time.
I learned a lot this year and made a point to actually take some notes. Mattie and Chris made classroom debate norms seem so easy. The folks who ran off to write the Illustrative Math 6-8 curriculum blew me away with their newly finished product. Steph and Tamar showed me just what I was looking for, a web-based Python emulator. Rachel, Molly, and Jamie found a triangle you can play with for an hour and still be mystified. Bob talked about bean bags. And I got to show some middle school teachers that Calculus isn't super scary.
All of this goes back to the message from Carl Oliver in his Saturday keynote. What happens when you muster up the courage to Push Send? In 2013 I signed up for TMC site unseen. I knew nothing other than these were some passionate people I had to see to believe. I don't know what came over me, but I volunteered for a My Favorite. I was nervous as hell. There's no video, but I remember clinging to the podium to make sure I wouldn't shake. I needed to do it. I wanted to say hello to these awesome people (and I masquerade as a cartoon and none of them knew my face).
Now I drop My Favorites like it ain't no thang, here's this year's:
And this could be you! All it takes to participate is to stand up and say hello, in whatever capacity makes you comfortable. At no point in my years of participation in TMC and the math teacher internet at large have I run into anyone trying to crush my dreams. These are the most supportive people ever. All of them eager to hear your ideas and eager to help you when you need a hand. If you email me, I will answer you. If you send me something on Twitter, I will reply. Push Send.
Our Global Math Department continues to excite me. I'm just going to mark off the last ten days in July from now until I can't walk anymore.