Friday, July 27, 2018

You down with TMC? (Yeah, you know me!)

For several years, I have wanted to attend two summer conferences - ISTE and TMC. My interest in ISTE stemmed from the hurricane of posts and shares that happens every June. Surely if everyone is attending, it must be awesome. My interest in lesser known TMC came from reading Amy Gruen's awesome blog. The enthusiasm with which she has described TMC made me really want to attend. This year, because both were so close to home, I was able to experience both. While I had a good experience at both conferences, they really could not have been more different from one another. Since my most popular posts have been comparisons, here is a quick one about these two conferences:

I have never been to a conference like TMC where

  • organizers encourage attendees to list pronouns of choice on name badges
  • thank you notes are left on a table in a common area so attendees can thank someone
  • a session lasts for six hours over three days (I loved this!)
  • organizers encourage attendees to stand like pacman to encourage others to join
  • buttons are distributed to help people connect and interact
  • math is discussed as a platform to bring equity to all
  • trendy math educators sing songs and do cheers and break every possible math teacher stereotype

Seriously, TMC is a special gathering of people.

I loved every session and I took away many things that I will use in my classroom or suggest to someone else this coming year. At some point, I hope to blog about those things to help me remember it all. In the meantime, this post will focus on the big picture.

It has been said that people won't remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. And if you read enough of these TMC recap posts, you will find a common theme in how people felt when they heard the keynote by Julie Reulbach. Sense of belonging. Renewed purpose. Valued and necessary. As a 25+ year Speech and Debate coach, I have heard a lot of speeches. This one was special. I will not forget what she said or how she made me feel. I feel incredibly lucky that I was there to hear her say it. I crawled to the finish line this past school year, but Julie's speech helped me shake that off and re-evaluate a little.

At the end of TMC18, we were encouraged to choose one thing to implement this year. Someone will check in to see how we're doing in October. I'm picking two things - one to do and one not to do - both inspired by Julie's speech.

To Don't: I'm not going to work on Sundays this year. Julie made the point that we are all enough. I tend to work too much, to take on too much, to put myself last. I'm going to make a conscious effort to stop that. I'm going to enjoy a day off every week. Working six days is enough. I'm enough.

To Do: The #MTBoS is a special group of people who inspire me a lot. I will admit to feeling like an impostor in this group, often because I am a science teacher (who teaches a lot of math). I love the #MTBoS and I will continue to participate in the community because Julie says I am not an impostor and because these people are amazing. But I will also work to find - or form - a community like this for science teachers. I need to stop waiting and searching for the #STBoS; it's time to make the community happen. If you are a science teacher wishing you could find a group of charismatic, nurturing, curious other science teachers, please connect with me. I'm going to start using #teachscience a lot and see where that gets us.

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