Yesterday, I got back home from my very first Twitter Math Camp, and I am entirely too full with gratitude. I feel incredibly lucky to have what I would consider an awesome job, where I am allowed to go to some of the best professional development opportunities available. It would have been much more difficult for me to attend as a public school teacher, because my school probably would not have funded the trip. I’m just saying…I appreciate my job benefits. I will be a better teacher as a result of my attendance at this conference…and subsequent conferences (see what I did there, lottery policy?), and I do not take this privilege for granted.
Secondly, I feel so blessed to be teaching in this time and space with not only my current colleagues, but also the really wonderful people I met this week! It is incredibly energizing to be around HELLA math teachers who WANT to come learn about math FOR FUN on their OWN TIME, and sometimes with their OWN MONEY. I mean, people were doing math puzzles after the work day ended. At happy hour. At a bar. These were nerds. I found my people.
Something that really struck me this week was that the Black teachers were far and few between. There may have been four of us out of about 200 people. At the Desmos pre-conference on Wednesday, I think I was the lone chocolate chip. Womp womp. However, on Day One, there was an excellent keynote by Grace Chen (@graceachen) about teaching as a political act. She was dropping STRAIGHT KNOWLEDGE about how institutional racism affects education. In addition to this, there were several teachers committed to questioning why this conference was so white. In the name of all that is holy and delicious, I was not asked to spearhead a gosh darn thing. My attendance at the session discussing this issue was not expected. No one asked me how I personally felt about there being so few Black teachers. I wasn’t tagged in any tweets about this that I did not implicate myself in. I mean, clearly I wanted to be involved with this discussion, but it was not seem as “our” problem (as in, the four black people there), it was seen as a group problem. This is a really good feeling. I was grateful for this. If any of y’all read this, I am grateful for y’all.
A related side note…I had a wonderful dinner on Friday night with my new girlfriends, Jenny (@JennSWhite) and Lisa (@MelendyLisa). As former Peace Corp volunteers in Peru, they wanted authentic Peruvian food. We drove about 20 minutes to a little restaurant that was fairly crowded (it was Peruvian Independence Day) and where little to no English was heard other than from our booth. They ordered for me in Spanish (yo….I ate cow tongue, y’all) and taught me about the food preparation. I can’t put my figure on it, but something about this experience was really refreshing…thanks, y’all.
Anyhow, back on track –
The last thing I want to talk about was our final keynote by Carl Oliver (@carloliwitter) called “Push the Darn Send Button.” As in send the tweet. Write the blog. Reply to the message. Like, stop playing games and just do it. Two things he mentioned really stuck out to me. The first is that blogging is reflection. For myself. A nerdy version of #treatyoself. Actually formalizing my thoughts not only makes me a reflective practitioner, but it’s also a great way for me to document my own professional growth. Justin (@JustinAion) also convinced me of this in the car on the way to Maggiano’s for the newbie’s dinner. I like growth….and I like Maggiano’s…so now these two things have a positive association in my mind.
Also, I like the idea of blogging as a form of leadership. Perhaps no one will read this. But perhaps they will. As a teacher with access to the interwebs, I do a lot of taking. Lesson plans, practice problems, open ended tasks…I want it all. However, the day might come when perhaps something I say will help someone else. I may spark someone else in the same way that others have done for me, and I’m all about sharing the love! However, like I said before – this is also for me, so even if no one reads this….I still win!
P.S. Stay tuned for pics of the beautiful curvahedra in my classroom. Best surprise door prize ever!