Sunday, 26 July 2015


I wrote this yesterday but, after reading Sam Shah's post, would like to preface it. This is not really about TMC15 itself, but more about my evolution since first attending TMC13. My point is that I wouldn't have done all these things were it not for TMC. That is pretty awesome. And my friend, Mark Sanford, mentioned that someone told him that what I have done is evolutionary, not revolutionary - it takes time and no one should expect to get there (wherever there is) overnight. I'm still not sure that I'm making a lot of sense, but I wanted to add that in.
- Mary

I feel so fortunate to have found this incredible community of math teachers. As I sit on the plane flying home after three days of the most meaningful professional development one could ever wish for, I want to attempt to distil what makes TMC so unique and special.

I, like many of you perhaps, joined the math-twitter-blog-o-sphere slowly, lurking at first, bravely tweeting at no one and eventually writing my first blog post which I did not think anyone would read. Since then, my professional world has changed vastly.

I have always been a huge proponent of teacher learning. I have given workshops across Canada, the US and Australia where I have had the privilege of interacting with smart, dedicated teachers. I have always been involved in mathematical opportunities outside my school – sitting on the boards of math associations, writing, organizing conference and such. But this group, my little corner of the MTBoS, is different. They have taught me, and continue to teach me, how to be better every day. They push me (because I want to be pushed) to reflect on my practice and realize what next steps will best help me grow. They support, encourage and value, disagree, discuss and give push-back. They are what every teacher needs.

Twitter Math Camp is so special because it allows us to take all the events and interactions of the year past and share them in person. The connections I have made at the three TMCs I have attended are priceless to me and shape the teacher I want to be. This past school year has been important in my efforts to grow as a teacher and demonstrates the effects of being part of the MTBoS. I continued to add good practices to my teaching and felt more confident spiralling my grade 10 applied classes. I blogged regularly (the good and the bad) and really tried to take time to reflect on my work. I read countless blog posts as well as a few books, which sparked ideas and made my classroom better for my students. But in the month of March, when I created the Which One Doesn’t Belong? website, I finally felt like I had contributed something meaningful, and that I really did belong to the MTBoS. Writing that makes it seem so ridiculous – everyone who interacts on Twitter and reads/writes blogs is part of the MTBoS – but for me, it was important. I suppose this comes from growing up in a house where nothing I ever did was good enough. The positive of that is that I always strive to be better and push myself to do more. In continuing to do more and accepting new challenges, I always know that I have the support of this group of amazing teachers from near and far. I am shy and introverted – I’m the one who is sitting in the kitchen with the dog at a party – but somehow I did an Ignite at OAME this year. Saying that it took me out of my comfort zone is a huge understatement, yet I did it and people that I did not know even said nice things after. I could not have done that without having the MTBoS behind me. I, along with Alex Overwijk, led a morning session at this year’s TMC whose participants included brilliant teachers that I respect hugely. And, more frightening to me, I gave a My Favourite, which was a disaster from my point of view, but still, I did it. I also seized the opportunity to learn from the amazing gathering of teachers, so willing to share. I have yet to fully process the sessions I attended, but hope to say more about those in a separate post. I will say that they inspired me to think deeply about teaching mathematics – something that I admire so much in others, but did not believe I could do.

As those who attend TMC will attest, a large part of what makes it extraordinary are the times after the sessions are done for the day. I feel so fortunate to have met and spent some time getting to know many of the west coast teachers that I had previously only known on Twitter. I could not have imagined better company for dinners or having more fun afterwards. So this blog post is really my way of saying thank you. Thank you to those who had the vision to create TMC and to those who make my experiences there so valuable.