Last weekend, I got to attend Twitter Math Camp (TMC). I know those three words strung together sound insanely ridiculous. Like how more millennial can I get, I attended a meeting of people who previously I had only interacted with or heard of on Twitter. When you add math camp to the end, it just pushes the idea over the top into nerdy ridiculousness. Before you judge this too much, know this group of teachers was one of the most welcoming and amazing group of people I have worked with. From the moment I arrived, I felt part of the community. Everyone was so friendly and excited to share their practice with others. This group of teachers took risks, were vulnerable, and supported each other in ways I never expected.
Some may be wondering how I ended up at TMC. It started on a total impulse. I had heard about this awesome conference of amazing math teachers. One day during my plan in January, I saw a call for presentations and on a whim I applied. Imagine my surprise when I found out I was accepted. My immediate response was to say no. There was no way I was qualified to present at a conference with these amazing teachers who I had watched from afar on the internet. In the end, I decided to give the presentation and not chicken out. I am so glad I made that choice. Even though, it was scary the attendees of my session were super supportive and had great conversations about how to integrate social issues into our mathematics classroom. The process of presenting in such a supportive environment helped me think about how to best engage attendees to my session. For instance, the project I picked involved a lot of explaining of teacher moves. If I had picked a project that was shorter, the attendees could have completely experienced it as a student. This would have allowed them to truly see and experience how PBL and Social Issues connect in a mathematics classroom.
In addition to presenting, I was able to attend some phenomenal sessions. This summer I had been thinking a lot about how to help my students see themselves as mathematicians. TMC had tons of phenomenal sessions around this idea. It started with Jose Vilson’s talk around equity in math education. He spoke about how important it is that the most at risk students have access to and see relevance to high level mathematics. Following his talk, I attended a session around how to support students mathematics identity. This was a very moving session for me because it allowed me to start think about what I do to affect student’s identity. In conjunction with that session, I attended a session to get teachers thinking about their own biases around students. These two sessions together have given me tons of ideas about how to approach my principal about having these types of conversations with my staff. I think that having the idea of student identity and equity at the center of our work as a staff. I think it is important for us to discuss and now I feel like I have the tools to help approach this subject.
Coming away from TMC, I feel more inspired than ever. I have so many ideas about how to bring students identity into my classroom. The most tangible thing I plan to do is begin to a Friday segment called “Mathematicians: Not Just Old Dead White Dudes”. I got this idea from the fabulous Annie Perkins, she has students request the type of mathematician they want to hear about. Then she researches the person and gives a five minute talk about that mathematician. My hope is to extend this to make it so it builds on my letter writing last year. I hope to create the opportunity for students, if interested, to reach out to these mathematicians to learn more.