Friday, July 27, 2018

My TMC18 Reflections

During the summer of 2017, I was definitely in #TMCjealousycamp.  All these people I looked up to on Twitter were all together... without me!  I wanted so badly to be with them, meet them, reconnect with them, and be a part of this world I saw on Twitter.  It was my goal to go to TMC18.

My friend was getting married the Saturday of TMC, so I decided I'd go to the first half of TMC.  But then the summer decided to have other plans.  My cat, Grant, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and the best option was radioiodine therapy.  This meant he was going to get an injection, be away for 4 long days, and then come home, filled with radiation and a long list of protocols to follow.  His procedure was set for July 9.  Earlier this year, one of my closest friends from college was diagnosed with cancer.  And her first surgery was the week before TMC, on July 11.  I wanted to visit her, and since she lives in Toledo, OH, it's not too far from Chicago.  Then it dawned on me--I might be able to make this summer turn around.  I emailed Lisa back and she thankfully agreed to let me come to the first half of TMC.  I spent Tuesday with my friend in Toledo and then Wednesday through Friday in Cleveland.  I drove home on Saturday and was able to go to my friend's wedding.  She was absolutely beautiful.

So was this all worth it?  YES.  Here is why:

I frantically needed a roommate, especially since a room was $200+ per night.  I put a message out on Facebook and thankfully, Jennifer Abel came to my rescue.  I am forever grateful to Jen for being so welcoming and generous!!  She become my TMC buddy, a familiar face when I was overwhelmed, someone I could get lunch with, and someone that became a friend.

Wednesday was the Desmos Precon.  As a Desmos fellow (cohort 1), I was so excited to reconnect with the teachers and Desmos faculty I met back in 2016.  My students and I LOVE Eli--he's so nice, funny, and always makes you feel like you're special.  They're convinced his name is "Eli Desmos".  I spent the first two sessions learning about computation layer.  I have a lot of work to do, but I'm not giving up!  It was there that I met Megan Dubee, one of the sweetest people I met at TMC and super patient as I tried CL again and again.  I snapped this selfie during Desmos Happy Hour--can you tell how ridiculously happy I am?!  Favorite picture of TMC, no lie :)

On Thursday, I started my day with Chris Luzniak and Mattie B in their session called "talk less, smile more".  They are so friendly and so hilarious!  I learned many strategies to get my students to talk, debate, and communicate more!  My #1TMCthing is to use "claim" and "warrant" debates this year in my class.  I'll be tweeting about it, I promise!!

Hearing everyone's "my favorites" was so amazing--it is a small snapshot into what is truly special to a teacher.  It's what inspired "their favorites", a tab on my blog.  Check it out :)  The "first timers" dinner showed that the TMC community truly cares about everyone at TMC, not just the "veterans" that go every year.  I felt included, loved, and had the greatest dinner with Julie, Michelle, and Jen!  Thanks to Sam for squeezing me in and snapping this photo!

Friday was my final day at TMC and I'm so thankful to have been there for Julie's keynote.  Julie's keynote resonated with so many people in that room.  I was one of them.  It's not that I had a "bad year", but my confidence in my teaching definitely was tested.  Someone once told me that I am "conservative" in my teaching: I don't take risks.  And it's true.  Because I don't just Google an activity and do it on the fly.  I don't spend 2 weeks on an activity because it's "fun" and "hands-on".  And because of that, I'm not "doing enough".  I'm not a "great teacher".  As Julie quoted, "It is hard...when you are constantly reminded of all the things you should be doing if only you were a great teacher."  Nevermind the investigations my students are doing, their problem solving, their communication with one another, technology... So Julie's keynote was a reminder that, you know what?  I am enough.  I am doing what is best for my students.  My students are learning, growing, and having fun.  Thank you, Julie!

I left TMC about an hour after Julie's keynote.  I spent the rest of Friday and all day Saturday back in #TMCjealousycamp.  And then Sunday came... and the excitement of knowing that TMC19 will be in northern California, somewhere I've been wanting to go for years!  I will do everything in my power to attend.  My TMC time was too short, but was still the BEST professional growth I have ever been a part of.

I hope to see you all next year in Berkeley!

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