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My Igniting Experience at CMC – South (With Video)

Okay so Igniting is a doozy.  Seriously.  I was sitting at a table with my fellow Igniters, in the front of that huge room buzzing with math educators from across the country, and we were all nervous.  Robert Kaplinski and Laila Nur had done this before – didn’t matter – nervous.  Blue Taylor had flown across the country to be here, done two talks earlier in the day and was completely fried – still nervous.  Even NCTM President-Elect Matt Larson (who was about to completely crush his talk) was nervous.  We all talked about what a challenge preparing an Ignite had been and how many hours we had put in trying to get it right.  And then we were off.

And I gotta say – We rocked it.  Everyone was awesome.  It was fun, it was funny, it was informative, and it was inspiring.  I’m so proud to have been a part of it.  Kudos to everyone and thanks to the Suzanne, Annie and Math Forum for making this happen!  You can catch all the Ignite Talks from CMC-South here.  Watch them all!

As for myself I felt surprisingly fired up when I stepped on stage.  It was cool to have Brian Shay up there to roast me a little to calm the nerves (I knew he would) .  Once I got rolling, despite the fact that I was about 60% blacked-out, I felt like I was going to get through it, like it was going to work out.

And then the dry-mouth set in.  I saw it coming actually.  I kept looking at my empty water bottle as the people ahead of me were speaking, wishing it would magically fill up on its own.  I even went to try to get some water in the back.  But there were hundreds of folks in the room and one little jug so that didn’t work out for me.  I wished I had followed Robert’s lead and brought a Heineken up there with me.  Anything would have helped.  As soon as I started talking my mouth started significantly drying up.  About halfway through I realized I had to say something before it was too late, before I just stopped talking altogether and no one could figure out why.

So I did.  And thank goodness for Suzanne.  She had a cup with some ice in it.  Which was funny, because my initial reaction was, “This is ice.”  I said it right into the mic.  I think it was hard to process anything besides what I was supposed to be saying in talk.  Like, “Hey, there wasn’t any ice in my slides.  What am I supposed to do with this?”  And I remember thinking, “Should I take a whole piece?  Won’t that make it hard to talk?”  But the thing about ice is – it melts.  So there was a little bit of water at the bottom.  Like the tiniest amount.  It was all I needed.  Problem solved.

So I got right back to it and only missed about a half a slide worth of words.  I didn’t get to show Christopher Danielson as much love as I had planned.  I mean “Find what you love about the Mathematics you teach.  Do more of that with your students.” was pretty much my whole message and I pretty much got it from him.  So yeah.  I was going to tell everyone to look up his keynote from TMC.  It was awesome.  Go look now.

Anyway, the second half was a bit of a race against my slides, and I lost by a narrow margin.  Fortunately my last slide, which was my call to action, was still there and I got to tell people to share their mathematical experiences and adventures.  Cause adventures are super fun, and I want to see what other people are doing!  #AME

Igniting was a lot of work, but it was crazy awesome.  I’d do it again.  Maybe someday I’ll get that chance.  Until then I look forward to seeing what other Igniters come up with.  My words of advice – Have fun and bring a drink!

* In a couple days I’ll post my script and my slides if anyone’s interested.  I’ll try to remember that #nobodycares.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the kind words, and congrats on your talk! I’m delighted to know the ideas and message resonated with you and have had an impact on your work.

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