Wow! TMC12 was a. . . I have no idea how to appropriately finish that sentence.
I guess the facts need to be established first. A group of 40 math teachers from all over the U.S. and Canada who got to know each other on Twitter and through blogging came together in St. Louis for a few days of “guerilla professional development” a.k.a Twitter Math Camp 2012 (TMC12). It was a conference of the teachers, by the teachers and for the teachers. I don’t think there is any way I can even come close to describing the experience, but here is a basic run down of things that were meaningful to me:
First, the people. Because really, it’s all about the people and relationships in any endeavor. There were 40 of us and I couldn’t get to know all of them the way I really wanted/needed to, so I apologize to all the awesome tweeps that I didn’t get to spend much time with.
The organizers: Shelli andLisa did an outstanding job of planning and making this thing happen. THANK YOU!
The Heroes: On the way over, my wife, Joni (who doesn’t teach or tweet), asked who I was most excited to meet. Obviously, the answer was Sam and K8. When I discovered the blogging, tweeting math teachers that prooved to be my lifeline, Kate and Sam were two of the first and most influential. It seems that physical lurking to listen to their conversations is several magnitudes creepier than the digital lurking that I’m used to doing. Whatever! It was great to be around their obvious genius.
The Expected: Funny thing about twitter, when I look at an avatar and read a tweet, I get to make up all the details about the person and what they are “saying.” While I was at TMC12 I noticed that some of the tweeps matched my idea of them quite nicely, thank you very much:
Jami, Kristen, Sarah, Glenn, and David (who doesn’t teach calculus or go by Dave, huh.) were all smart and funny in about the way I expected.
As big as Julie (who Joni now refers to as “the former cheerleader”) is on twitter (personality-wise) she is the same or maybe more so IRL. She is the life of the party and a master of middle school psyche.
Rachel is quirky, smart and funny in person, just like she is on the Twitter. I wasn’t surprised that she brought a ukulele to TMC, either; I just never knew she looked so much like Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club!
The Different From Expected: Elizabeth surprised me at first. She is older than I expected (not that you’re old, just that your ideas, blog posts, and tweets are young, fresh and inspiring). She is off-the-hook smart and still down to Earth and fun to hang with.
Hedge. What can I say about the fiery one from Mississippi that breaks out the dubstep to work Exeter problems to, rides on Sam’s back for part of the brewery tour and teaches us how to make marshmallow guns? I didn’t see that coming.
Previously Unknown/No Expectations: Max is very smart and funny (notice a trend here?), soft spoken but when he speaks you will want to listen because it’ll be worth hearing.
Bowman. I wish I could be in the same league as Bowman. He is light years ahead of me in too many ways to list.
Simmons – “Bacon and Beer” ‘nuff said.
Karim is a rock star. He stood out as a genius among really, really smart people. I would like to hire him as my personal math lesson sensei.
Marsha – the extrovert for the week with all the cool shirts. Class of ’92 rules!
During our epic time at Pi Pizza, I learned that Jamie would eat anything on his pizza, or anyone else’s for that matter.
Now, about the content. I couldn’t imagine a better professional development time. I’ve been to many PD sessions in my time as a teacher, some might have been more professional but when it comes to development there’s no comparison.
I’m not going to give lots of detail about the sessions. I think they might lose some awesomeness in my trying to write about them. Here’s an overview:
My favorite time was the “My Favorites” time. This is where some of my favorite teachers ever shared their favorite things to do in the classroom. I’ve already started using Elissa’s “say 2 nice things” with my own children.
Bowman needed more time to really teach me how to use Geogebra, but he got me off to a great start.
Julie rocked the foldables. I really want to step outside of my comfort zone and use these all the time.
Megan did an equally rockin’ job explaining the interactive notebook. Again not my natural style, something I’m going to force myself to do to help my students.
David’s presentation on thinking like a mathematician was excellent. I want to steal the whole thing from him and show it to my students. Or maybe I could get him to come and present it, whaddya think @calcdave?
Hearing Elizabeth share about motivation from the point of Dan Pink’s book Drive was another highlight of my time in St. Louis. Her ideas on flow were especially though provoking for this logical thinker.
I could go on and on, but many more talented writers have done a much better job of blogging about the experience. I’m just glad that they let me come and that it will almost surely happen again next year. And for that I am truly thankful.