My math partner, Stacy and I were once again fortunate to present this last weekend. We were invited to speak at California Math Council’s northern conference at Asilomar. We had never been to the northern conference, so we were eager to compare it to our experience in Palm Springs (last year). I had heard that this was smaller and more intimate, but with better speakers because of its proximity to the Bay Area.
First of all, the ground of Asilomar are gorgeous. If you never been, Asilomar was like a leadership retreat-type place surrounded with trees all the while the ocean waves were crashing in the background. When we were checking into our rooms, there was a random deer waiting for us (no joke). It was quaint. It was peaceful and zen-like.
We were running into all these math heroes every step and every turn. While backing out the car, I was close to running over Dan Meyer, Zak Champagne and Mike Flynn. While walking to explore the beach, there was Marilyn Burns taking a stroll in maroon hat. We helped Ruth Parker get inside our residential building. It was like being at an All-Star Math Camp.
Friday night we went to see and hear from Dr. Jo Boaler. While waiting to hear from her, I ran into this guy–Chris Shore. We’ve been planning something for next year. Incredible guy. We caught up with each other while Stacy listened in on Dr. Boaler.
Saturday morning came and it was our time to shine. Stacy and I presented on the flipped hundreds chart and our work on clothesline math to about 15 teachers. Really engaged participants. Lots of conversation. Lots of sharing. We felt incredible. It seems like we keep getting better. We have found purpose with what we are doing.
One of our participants stopped us in the hall afterwards and congratulated us on our session. He said that he couldn’t believe how engaging we were. We made the session feel really personal. We were really energetic with our participants and made everyone feel welcome. Usually there are sessions where there are “talking heads,” but we were the quite the opposite. And on top of all this, that we made him think about what’s going on in the classroom.
The rest of our Saturday was spent seeing other speakers. We got to listen in on Annie Fetter and her thoughts on writing for math. We listened in on Cathy Humphreys as she explained her dissertation on mathematical agency. Lastly, we attended Ann Carlise and her K-2 number talks with number lines session.
Usually I look for one thing to bring home and use. I say that if you can just gleam one thing from any professional development, then it’s worth it. I was lucky enough to have a math partner to talk this through. We like poking each other with questions and then come to a conclusion.
When all was mostly done, we questioned what we got out of this conference. Stacy and I learned something far greater then what some of these great authors and math educators were telling us.
- We figured out what kind of speakers we want to continue to be. We need to be us. The comments from one our participants really was thought provoking. And that was just our personalities. We want to be personable in our sessions. I don’t want to be a “talking head.” If you know who we are, we are completely the opposite of that. And we won’t change that. That’s who we are.
- One of our expectations is that our participants walk away with something that they could use the next day. In some of the sessions we attended as participants, that wasn’t happening. There was lots of theory, but I wouldn’t know what to do with the information in my classroom. Because of us flying up north, we couldn’t bring our full “show.” I’ve been expecting our participants to look up all our resources on my blog, but I don’t know if that’s happening. How do we make sure they fully leave with something in hand? (We have ideas).
We would go again in a heart beat. We learned more about ourselves then we expected and that was major leap forward. We didn’t expect that, but we couldn’t pass up processing our thoughts on the subject.
And so we continue to grow. Onto the next conference.
Until next time….
keep laughing & keep smiling,