Twitter Math Camp (The Experience)

TMC_2013_PhillyIf I traveled across the country to see someone whom I met online, you might think I was nuts. So what would you think if I traveled across the country to meet 115 people that I met online? Well I did just that. I flew to Philadelphia to attend Twitter Math Camp 2013.

TMC is a unique conference for math teachers. Yes, it has your standard general session with smaller breakout sessions to choose from. What set this conference apart was that for the most part all the presenters, participants, and organizers (shout out to @lmhenry9 and @maxmathforum and company) knew each other … through Twitter. We all have been tweeting for various lengths of time. There was everyone from veteran tweeters to newbs. For me, it has been about a year. I am a moderate tweeter; I tweet some and I read some. For the most part, I still consider myself a novice Tweeter, but a veteran teacher (25 years). So did I why go out of my way to attend this particular math conference?

Because I suspected that this was a very special group of educators. I found that I was right. I spent two days with a large group of extremely intelligent, creative, sincere, committed math teachers. Actually, we were math ed geeks in the fondest sense. Between sessions and over meals and, of course, through tweets, we conversed about how “not to be sucky teachers.” I have never been around a group of people so hyper-focused on being nothing less than amazing at their craft, with the critical understanding that no one is.

What also drew us together was the desire to know the person behind the avatar and the handle, to make eye contact and have a conversation longer than 144 characters, and to party together in a basement bar in Philly (which is material for a post in and of itself). We were genuinely excited to meet those whom we follow, and follow those whom we met. The name on the presentation was as important as the name of the presentation. We wanted to learn about each other as well as from each other. And we did. And it was awesome.

I will recap the sessions that I attended in a subsequent post. For now, I want to impart a couple of thoughts.

1)  If you are not on Twitter, I strongly suggest you do so immediately. Just sign up and figure the rest out later. You can start by following me, @MathProjects, and then connect with the rest of the TMC community.

 2) If are on Twitter and aren’t sure whether TMC14 will be worth your time, let me answer the question for you… It definitely will be. I was skeptical until the first breakfast when I sat with a dozen fellow tweeps, and only became more convinced as the conference went on.

3) If you wanted to go this year, but couldn’t, I hope to see you at the next camp.

4) If I spent any kind of time with you in Philly, thank you for sharing your passions, ideas and friendship with me. I am already looking forward to next summer. In the meantime, may we all teach amazingly this school year.

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