For those on the twitters and reading blogs, there was a nice build up in advertising to this event. I really didn’t know what to expect from Shadow Con until the day before when I got to ask some folks that were speaking at it during the math games night. The ‘TED-esque, but with a call-to-action’ description ended up being most spot on for me. This was probably one of my favorite events from my time in Boston and I greatly enjoyed each speaker. Let me tell you why.
I declared Tracy my new lunch buddy for when I make the drive between Mount Desert Island, ME and Salem, MA last fall. We got to have our first lunch/tweet up as summer waned and it was a fabulous time to food and math ed chatting. Tracy has such a focus on supporting math teachers and thinking deeply about the best way to do that while at the same time having a practical outlook and the ability to go from high-level math edu-speak to commenting that “the problem she loved was not on the ass of a pig” (this comment only makes sense if you’ve seen her talk so I’m not going to explain it because you really should go watch it as soon as it’s posted).
I’ve no idea if the Shadow Con folks put a lot of deep thought into their ordering, but if they did, bravo. Excellent arc. Starting with Breaking the Cycle and thinking about attitudes toward math of pre-service teachers vs mathematicians. Say you’re a pre-service teacher. The center question,
How do we create the classroom edition of what mathematicians do?
is something to have rich discussions about in your pre-service program. What it is that mathematicians actually do? How does math anxiety affect our kids? Ourselves? Get people to think about what they are really trying to accomplish in a math classroom before they ever get their own and then keep thinking about this question with colleagues to build relationships and a common understanding of what a math classroom is.
And in case anyone is wondering, I chose the word ‘play’. Giving space for students to play with the mathematics and possibly go places I haven’t thought about isn’t something I feel I’ve done enough of even though it is something I do when I noodle around with random math problems. I want to work more on giving my students open fields with less paved paths.
To read another thoughts on Tracy’s talk, Check out Dylan’s blog here.
So you’ve talked about what mathematics looks like in the real world and how you are going to try and make that happen in your classroom. You’ve got a lot to learn about this new profession of yours, but, as Elham Kazemi notes in her talk,
“How much can you learn by yourself?”
Elham is someone I’ve been following on twitter for a while and I freely admit to fangirling at the thought of getting to meet her in person at the conference. At PCMI one year we read her paper Discourse that Promotes Conceptual Understanding and I recommend it for anyone thinking about classroom discourse.
After Anthony’s session where he encouraged everyone to “find a partner in crime,” it was nice to see that message reiterated by Elham. Her descriptions of the ‘Teacher Time Outs’ used when team teaching were delightful. I’ve asked my students for time outs when I needed time to plan my next moves (or work through some math to make sure I had it right) and they have always be incredibly nice about it and snapped back to attention when I asked after a few iterations. Classroom visits are something I wish I had done when I was in the classroom and I really want to make them happen when I get back into one.
The all capital letters of “CRAFT TOGETHER” also needs some neon along with the “Revise & Try Again.” Annie Fetter, in her NCSM Ignite session, brought up some similar ideas.
The phrase “collective learning opportunities” is one that’s going to stick with me. What a great question to ask when you are interviewing for a job. Her three bullet point Call to Action seems so workable for teachers new and old and such a great way to build professional strength and grow peer-relationships. I’m really excited to see where folks go with it.