TMC14: Start, Stop, Continue

There’s been a ton of reflection by almost every TMC attendee.  Before I forget why the conference was so powerful here’s a “Start, Stop, Continue” reflection on #TMC14.


+ Using higher quality assessments & projects like the ones the algebra 1 group collaborated on.  Tests & quizzes are the weakest part of my class, mostly because I don’t give them.  Students need that feedback and I do too.

+ Asking HOW students get their answers.  Steve Leinwand (@steve_leinwand) gave us that challenge in our first keynote session.  His keynote resonated with me more than any others we had because it was actionable and exposed an essential part of quality math education – students need to show their thinking and then we can all learn from it.

+ Having awesome discussions with my kiddos @PiSpeak led a phenomenal session about having debate in math class.  In super brief sum: He provides structure which allows the students to get comfortable.  He also provided us with practice turning any problem into a debatable one and that was enlightening.  All with sentence starters too so it is certainly doable on my own.  This for me connects directly with Steve’s Keynote – have students explain their thinking to each other.

+ Interactive Notebooks.  This is the second conference I’ve been to this summer that emphasized the power of INBs.  Our biology teacher used them and continues to sing praises of INBs.  Now that I know what they can look like in math class, I’ll join in.  @jdmahlstedt shared this phenomenal resource on all the types of INBs that the blog-o-sphere has defined (I’m hoping to fall in the middle category)

+ Having “New Job Swagger.” I am a new Math coach for my school and attended the Coaches/Specialists discussion facilitated by @MathProjects and this was the most important session I attended.  Did I leave with a dozen things I can implement in 2 weeks? No. But I did leave with the most important thing: Confidence that it will all work out and I’m going to be good at this.  So I (literally, right now) decided I’m going to have swagger.  As I said many times to myself first year “If you can ride a bike 3,800 miles, you can teach 80 14 year olds algebra” My new mantra: If you can ride a bike 3,800 miles, you can coach adults to achieve greatness.

+ Convince a geometry teacher to do @MathProjects’ Princess Dido lesson.  Mostly because I wanna have fun outside on the field, oh and teach one of the most phenomenal lessons ever. If only I taught geometry, the fun we could have…..

+ Using/promoting body scale number lines.  I went to a flex session where we played around with them and so many things just clicked for participants.  Multiplication could truly be seen as a scaled growth.  My mind was blown (and still hurts a little in the best way) from our discussion about i and the complex plane.  I want my students who have oodles of energy this outlet to see the math in front of them and BE the objects.  I think there is a lot of potential for great (or at least engaging) classes.


+ Being a passive member of the MTBOS -> Especially the “twittersphere” There are so many great teachers working to be better and I should make myself a part of the conversation.  Then I can grow all year instead of just one week a year. I’ve kept an eye on twitter these past 3 days and almost every conversation is engaging and interesting.  I can’t wait until we have kiddos and get to sharing our successes and struggles.


+ Using the resources I do & how I plan/implement content.  My morning session was reaffirming because my working group was very aligned on how we teach and what a make a good lesson (and we based that off of a problem I had planned on doing already).

+ Playing with math.  @mathequalslove encouraged us to do that with hexaflexagons and mobius strips – both of which I’ve played around a little bit with.  I shared hexaflexagons with my class last May and it was amazing.  I’ll definitely add in mobius strips to the repertoire.  More importantly, @mathequalslove frustrated me by not letting me have all the answers before the session ended (silly time constraints and silly glue for needing time to dry).  I want my students to feel the same way about math – drawn in with a need to finish a problem.

+ Using NRich.  I attended @VeganMathBeagle’s session on NRich after having used it a few times at the end of the year (it might be because I read about some of them from her blog).  The tasks were always good and provoked some heated math in my class.  I’m excited to use them throughout the entire year.

+ Using Desmos because it is FABULOUS.  I’m surprised by the rate that they grow and put out amazing content.  Now I just need to spread the “good news” to my other teachers and life will be wonderful and full of beautiful, free, graphs.

+ Pinching pennies to make it to LA for #TMC15

Final thoughts

As I finish reflecting on my sessions and experiences TMC14 was incredibly supportive of me in my role right now.  No session I attended made me think “Jake, you don’t know anything and you are in trouble. You are incredibly unqualified.” Instead, many of them let me thinking “Okay, you knew most of that.  Just put a pretty bow on it and share it with your teachers”  For someone who has been in the classroom two incredibly short years and am now a Coach,  I’m thinking a week before I begin: “Jake, You’ve worked hard. You and your students have done amazing things.  You are ready to help your entire department, and school, become phenomenal”  I’m ready for whatever lies ahead, thanks in part to everyone who took part in TMC14.


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