1. Feed Your Friends
Friday night, with the help of Mathalicious, Matt, Jed, and I put together an open-invitation barbeque for over 130 of the attendees at Twitter Math Camp. Great SoCal-style Mexican food was dished out to those who came and even some who didn't. We had leftovers and were able to feed almost a dozen homeless folks, so it was a perfect cherry on the top of a memorable evening.
Personally, it was an honor to cook and serve food for 130 people who made the effort, many on their own dime, to travel from around the world to what could essentially be called my back yard (3 miles from mi casa). It was even more of an honor to do this while wearing my late Dede's (grandfather) chef hat with the knowledge that he did this for so many years, making people happy by filling their stomachs with good food and filling their hearts with good friendships. I hope we did the same.
All the while, my kids were going around and collecting plastic bottles once they were empty (and forced some to chug. Sorry friends, at least it wasn't beer). Why? They're going to use the money they get to "buy things for sick people". That makes me happy.
2. Make It About The People
We had plenty of laughs, it's likely that everyone shed a tear, most of us were angry about something (or maybe someone), and everyone I spoke with cherished these moments.
One of the sessions was about formalizing this group we call the MTBoS, politicizing us, giving us a hierarchy, and using our forces for something greater. I strongly disagree. The reason I love being a part of this family is because it's that - family.
3. Evangelize About What You Love
Matt and I saw this gap a couple years ago and felt the desire to do something about it. Two chef coats, a menu, a mullet, some barbies, and a whole lot of the MTBoS later, we have put the incredible work that this collective group has done into a full day training and called it La Cucina Matematica.
So far, we've been able to have an impact in Northern and Southern California, but it isn't enough. We think that everyone knows about Estimation 180 and Would You Rather Math, but they don't. We think that everyone has heard of a 3-Act math task, but they haven't. We think that everyone has experienced a day of professional developmet that they loved, but this clearly isn't the case.
If you think your district would be interested in bringing in the work of the MTBoS,please let us know. This originally felt like a slimy shameless plug, but it's obvious that someone needs to step up and shout the greatness that is the MTBoS from the mountaintops -we just so happen to do it while wearing chef coats and mullet wigs. Matt and I firmly believe that the mathematics teaching profession deserves, at the very least, to experience the resources and pedagogical shifts that can help change education.
4. Make Great Stuff
This is probably something that most attendees are going to utter at least once when they get home. Maybe it's to their mom, possibly their spouse, or perhaps it's to some stranger buying gas or groceries. Either way, it's hard to believe what we did in four days. Among other things, we:
Built a new activity bank for lessons created by us, free for anyone
Built new Desmos activity bank with lessons ready to use
Filled up a wiki with all the cool stuff we made
Wrote a song about the previous three days
Talked about asking better questions
Sent over 1500 tweets about #TMC15
Watched Hedge kick Vaudrey's ass in egg roulette:
5. Meet New Friends
6. Nurture Existing Relationships
This MTBoS community has become far greater than a chat room and a handshake - at the end of the day, we are a family and it feels awesome to continue to nurture those relationships. I'm no longer in the classroom and truly believe that the best teachers still are. This week, I had the pleasure of chatting with many of them. Thank you for that.
7. Say Thank You
As we were putting together details for the BBQ, we were thinking about how thankless a job it is to organize events like this. To help show our appreciation, we duped Lisa into thinking that we were having a raffle, while everyone else knew it was a pot to help show our appreciation for the hard work that she does to make this amazing every year. Yes, we gathered enough money to pay for a spa gift package and an Amazon gift card, but that isn't the "Thank You" I'm talking about.
Matt and Jed began reading the "raffle tickets" aloud to the group and each one were notes about how much they loved TMC. Lisa, sitting off to the side, realized what was going on when she blurted out "shit, this wasn't a raffle, was it?" A stack of personal notes to Lisa and a standing ovation later, we saw a level of appreciation that no stiped can replace.
8. Nobody Cares
It's not that we (teachers) don't care about our students, and certainly not Fawn; quite the contrary. What I gathered from this portion of her keynote was how important it was to get students to think about more than themselves and more than the moment.
"My mom had a baby!"
"Nobody cares." She then proceeded to share how it's more than the kid's mom having the baby, more than new life entering the world. How are you, the student, going to be there to support your brother/sister? What are you going to do to be a good role model? Why should that little new human look up to? She didn't say that, but this is how I interpreted Fawn's approach to her students.
We're going to head back to our departments and sites and evangilize about how incredible it was. Inevitably, people are going to think (and maybe say) "nobody cares". When they do, what are you going to do that will model the things you have learned? How are you going to support your team with this new knowledge? Why should anyone give weight to what you've brought back?
Give them a reason to care.
9. Ignore The Curfew
Sure, I headed off to bed early on the last night out of pure exhaustion, but possibly the deepest discussion I had was with Michael, Jed, and Karim and it started around 11 PM and finally ended around 2 in the morning in my back yard. Thanks, fellas.
On Twitter, I saw dozens of tweets about a piano bar, hanging out by the pool, and summaries of conversations that went well past the strike of midnight. Granted, this conference is far different than anything you've ever experienced, but the people who took advantage of that are better (and more tired) because of it.
10. Never have a list of 9 things
Happy "Conference Hangover Cure" Fishing