Monday 28 July 2014

Why I Go to Twitter Math Camp

It’s funny – a year ago, after TMC13, I wrote a blog post entitled “TMC 13 - Minus the Math”. I find myself again not wanting to talk about the math that surrounded me at TMC14. It’s not that there were not great ideas presented or innovative ways of doing things, but more that the reason TMC is so special for me is due to the interactions that happen around and outside the math. Being constantly surrounded by up to 150 people for 4 days should sound a little like hell to an introvert like me, but it is truly the most deeply fulfilling professional, well, anything I have taken part in. I have presented workshops in a lot of places, in a lot of formats, and other than Exeter, nothing even comes close to TMC. The connections that exist before those magical 4 days get strengthened and new ones are formed, and (this is the thing), they continue to grow after we all head in different directions geographically. Each of these connections helps make me a better teacher as they encourage me to share, try others’ ideas and stay connected to the greater math world around me.

I cannot possibly do justice to how I feel about my tweeps. The fact that I feel comfortable even calling them my tweeps is remarkable. I do not ever make assumptions that people are going to like me or think highly of anything I do, but I feel that some teachers on Twitter really do value me and my work. This is remarkable.

I want to mention a few people that had an impact on me at TMC14. It was such a pleasure to have spent time with many others, but this post might never end if I list you all…

Pam Wilson (@pamjwilson) may be the nicest person on the planet. She makes me want to be a better person and teacher and continually motivates me to do more math ed reading to continue learning. She is amazing. She also reads my blog and has always been kind and supportive which means so much to me.

I was actually too shy to talk to Nathan Kraft (@nathankraft1) last year, but am really glad that I got to spend some time with him this year. He is genuinely a good person and I feel fortunate to call him my friend.

I enjoyed a conversation with Viktoria Hart (@Viktoriahart) and the always awesome Justin Lanier (@j_lanier). Viktoria has 1 more year of school left before she becomes a teacher. Wow! She is going to kick ass when she gets in the classroom.

MaryAnn Moore (@missnarymm) was kind enough to chauffeur us around. She is simply lovely and I look forward to continuing to get to know her on Twitter. She said it well when she tweeted this:

I had the pleasure of two dinners in the company of the Memphis trio: Kevin Mattice (@kjmonopoly), Matt Bigger(@mwbigger) and Seth (@melroseharkins) along with Levi Patrick (@_levi_) from  Oklahoma City. I was lucky enough to get to work through Park Central (or was it Central Park?) with Levi and have to tell you that he is sharp, funny, kind and passionate about what he does.

Kate Nowak (@k8nowak) was kind enough to help us find a quick lunch on Friday and it was really refreshing to talk to her. I have admired her work from afar and feel fortunate to now have gotten to know her a little bit. She later tweeted that she would like to know more about the spiraling work that Alex, Sheri and I have done so I sent her the link to my blog. I think this may be the best tweet I have ever gotten:

I can’t not mention getting to see, talk to and hear Eli Luberoff (@eluberoff). He continues to impress me with his passion and commitment to making a product that is as good as it can be for students and teachers.

Most notably though, I brought Alex Overwijk (@AlexOverwijk) and Sheri Walker (@SheriWalker72) with me to TMC14. There are now two people that I collaborate with at home who get “it” – the “it” that makes TMC so special. The passion of all the educators, the friendly nature of all who attend, the collective need to improve as teachers that is second to none. I got to share that with them and that is huge. I am so glad they were able to make the trip with me. I love them both and they defined TMC14 for me.

There was a chunk of time that was not my finest hour, so to speak, and I appreciate all the concern that was expressed. I should know that I cannot be “on” for 3 days straight, especially on little sleep, especially, especially with no lunch on the day I am presenting. The intersection of those (and a few other) things left me unable to give any more when asked to do something that would have been very difficult for me even on a good day. I hope I didn’t offend anyone and am truly sorry if I did.

I leave TMC renewed in my passion for teaching, knowing that I belong to an amazing group. Being part of this community makes me feel complete. Thank you to Lisa and Shelli for making this possible. You will never truly know how much this means to me.

See you at TMC15.


  1. It was great meeting a fellow Canadian all the way down in Jenks. I love all the photos you put in this post. Like you, I like time by myself. Unlike you, I think, I took it. Three of the four days I went for lunch all alone (on purpose). I needed the quiet, down time, to reflect.

    1. Also good to meet you. Clearly you are smarter than me ;) Glad to have another fellow Canadian at TMC.