TMC18.

I got in bed at 9:47. It’s now 1:18. I’ve been so close to falling asleep 3 times but it hasn’t stuck yet. My best friend went to Beyonce in Cleveland tonight. My sister and I are leaving for a 12-day-long road trip Sunday. My brother just got cheesecake out of the fridge. My boyfriend takes his final exam of medical school tomorrow. Seems like as good a time as any to blog about TMC.

Let’s start a few months ago. Cue me, having already grabbed a quick bite by myself the night before prior to the National Council of Mathematics Teachers (NCTM – proper APA for Bob) Annual Meeting and Exposition Opening Keynote session.

I knew there were people from MTBoS (math-twitter-blog-o-sphere) at NCTM. I had even met a few of them already and they were all super nice. But there were 4,000 people here, and even if I was checking my phone, my service and WiFi were questionable. So I happened to run into my student teacher and some people from her college cohort and ran to get lunch with them.

I spent some time at the MTBoS booth that afternoon between sessions. Later that night I dipped out on ShadowCon early (it is SO HARD to be an active listener at 7 PM after a full day of active listening, y’all) and made my way to Desmos Happy Hour. After a couple of laps around the room, I was really hoping the person I thought was Megan was actually Megan… so I went up to her and asked “hi, are you @veganmathbeagle?” It was, and she kindly invited me to join their trivia team.

I worked at the booth a few times. I met a few more people. I went to some really great sessions (and a few snoozers). I felt energized for the end of the year. I was happy with my experience.

Cut to last week. Thanks to a Google Sheet, I was able to volunteer to pick someone up at the airport on my way into Cleveland. I met my roommate, who I originally “met” via Padlet. I took a quick trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park with two random people that saw my tweet/Google Sheet post. All on Wednesday, before Twitter Math Camp even technically began.

Over the course of these four days I learned. I learned how much manipulatives and color-coding can help students see different algebraic relationships in the same pattern. I learned how other schools do a variety of interventions for their students with “math gaps”. I learned the ways teachers verbally and non-verbally appreciate, congratulate, and redirect students.

Over the course of these four days I was challenged. Mattie and Chris challenged me each morning to keep my mouth shut and let my students/peers do the talking, which is often easier said than done. Marian challenged me to put my students of color at the center. Julie challenged me to believe in myself as a #teacherleader. Kent challenged me to deeply appreciate and understand base 10 operations (and other bases, which I’ll get to eventually).

During these four days I just felt good. I got to play games and talk about fun things with cool people.

I got to post really great ideas that were immediately built upon both on Twitter and in real life.

I got to meet five other math teachers from my state, one of which lives twelve minutes away from me.

And on top of all of this, I got complimented? I really don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but when people like Sam Shah say that they appreciate your tweets… it makes ya feel good, y’know?

I also had the pleasure of meeting Robert Berry, NCTM’s new president and UVA professor. He might be the most genuine person I met at TMC. He spoke, listened, asked questions, pushed back, listened more, and participated in this little grassroots conference. He invited me to tailgate with his family at a William and Mary soccer game. Presidents of big organizations don’t do things like this, do they? This isn’t normal, is it???

I honestly have enjoyed both NCTM experiences I’ve had so far. I learned something new from each. But neither one holds a candle to TMC. Thank you to everyone there (and everyone following along online) for just being you, and helping (and pushing) me to be the best me. I probably won’t be able to make it to TMC19 but that’s okay. I know I have people across the country I can turn to daily for ideas and support. Maybe another first timer can take my spot next year and feel the same.

It’s now 2:20. Goodnight, Meeple.

 

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A high school math teacher trying to help her students find the world and find math through math.

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