And yes, that title is a tribute to Hedge (@approx_normal) and Summer (@mathdiva77) who continue to school me on all things southern. For example, unless you are uncommonly brave, do not under any circumstances mention this individual:
Ironically, this is my first blog since my post-TMC12 recap a year ago...and it's likely to be brief since I have so many exciting things I want to be working on right now in the midst of my post-TMC13 high. For those who don't know, TMC refers to a gathering of the coolest and most passionate math educators you are ever likely to meet in one place at a now-annual teacher-led conference. Twitter Math Camp was born out of math teaching discussions on Twitter but has exploded into one of the most powerful IRL experiences one is likely to have in the world of Professional Development.
I could easily spend days recapping all of the incredible ideas and resources that I learned about at #TMC13, all of which is archived by the participants at an online site. There were so many great ideas and I can't wait to see how my teaching transforms and grows this year as a result of all that I've learned. But what makes this experience so unique and so special are the people involved. They are...genuinely crazy. Crazy in a way that I know...feel...understand. And suddenly, I don't feel so crazy to have found them. Here is a community of math teachers so passionate about what they do that no one is chiding me in the midst of my enthusiasm for something that "I need to clock out." They get it! Like, really get it.
A group of us gathered near the end of the conference to discuss TMC 2014 and our concerns about preserving the incredibly unique atmosphere that exists at Twitter Math Camp. A couple of comments struck me in that session as we were discussing what makes things so different at Twitter Math Camp than any other PD experience. Glenn talked about the idea of the back channel conversations occurring on an equal footing with the "lead" conversations, an idea he expounds upon in his blog. That insight for me really captured the uniqueness of this experience. There is no artificial wall created between the math conversations occurring in sessions and the social conversations that occurred after hours. The entire experience was one big ongoing conversation about life, teaching, pop culture, mathematics...you name it...a rich conversation that integrated what it means to be human and curious and alive with what it means to teach and inspire and to think mathematically. Where else would ordering pizza evolve into a discussion of the value benefits of combinations of toppings vs. combinations of "presidents" (is it better to save money on several large plain pizzas or diversify with smaller more expensive specialty pizzas? Yep, even our waiter was drawn into the discussion.
I met some of the coolest people I've ever had the honor of knowing at #TMC13, people I'm honored and humbled to call friends. People who inspire me to greater things. Someone else in that TMC14 planning session remarked that what makes this experience so unique is that the participants are unnaturally obsessed with teaching and mathematics. I wish that had been my phrase. For now, I'll just paraphrase in the language of my southern sisters and say, "These people are crazy, y'all!"