The Goza Way

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Month: July 2015

TMC 2015: How I was Wrong About the MTBoS

I think I went to Twitter Math Camp this year to prove myself wrong.

My biggest fear going into TMC 2015 was feeling like an outsider. I had never known the MTBoS to be an exclusive club, but I had always feared that the “Power Elite” and “Shadowconers” might have joined forces to form some sort of super-crew that I wasn’t going to feel comfortable joining.  Apparently other folks call them the “Rock Stars” but I often thought of them as the “Cool Kids” of Math Ed.

Let me make it clear that I never thought of the Cool Kids as being bad.  I consider Fawn Nguyen, for example, to be one of the coolest of the Cool Kids, and I’ve always thought Fawn seemed as cool as you could possibly be.  I have as much professional respect for her as anyone I can think of.  (Even more so after her incredible keynote!)  In my opinion the Cool Kids weren’t doing anything wrong.  It was more like – In the school lunchroom of the Math Ed world, I wasn’t sure if I could sit at their table.

So as a typically confident person I had some unusual feelings going into TMC that I hadn’t had prior to CMC or NCTM or even PCMI.  I was scared that if I spoke up at TMC people might think, “If this guy had anything good to say, I’d have heard of him already.”  And I had thoughts like, “How much better are these folks than I am?”  After all, if you start applying proportional reasoning and you have 45 twitter followers …

I make voice memos all the time when I’m driving. This is literally what I said in the “Pre-TMC” memo:

TMC is gonna give me the opportunity to see about the cool kids hypothesis that I’ve always been afraid of.  And to sort of see, not whether or not I’m a Cool Kid, but if the Cool Kids act like ‘the cool kids.’  Or if they’re just chill people who are happy to interact with everybody and want to teach and learn all the time and just be cool.

And then Twitter Math Camp happened.  It was 3+ days of awesome and definitely the best thing I had been a part of professionally since PCMI in Summer 2013.  I feel like I learned so much about teachers and teaching and learners and learning that it will take months for me to digest it all.

TMC tweet

But my most important takeaway from TMC 2015 is this…

I’m happy to report that the Cool Kids don’t act like cool kids at all.  They just are cool.  In fact, I don’t even think MTBoS has cool kids.  Everyone at Twitter Math Camp just wanted to share and learn from each other.  There was excitement and wonder and gratitude and humility all around.  Everything was inclusive, everyone was awesome.

And as far as the lunch table goes, there’s open seats for anyone who wants to learn and grow.  I got the feeling that people wanted me to be involved because they knew I was cool too.  Not because I had 45 twitter followers, but because I wanted to maximize my ability to help young minds develop.  And to drive that fact home this happened yesterday:

Sam helps

Thank you Sam.  And thanks to everyone who made me feel welcome at TMC 2015.  You folks are amazing.  I’m so excited to have met you and look forward to being a part of your/our online community moving forward.

If there’s anyone else out there who’s afraid of the “Rock Stars” or “Celebrities” or “Cool Kids” in the MTBoS, I promise, you have nothing to fear.  TMC 2015 showed me that there’s room for everyone in this fantastic community.  I’m taking my lunch to the MTBoS table from now on.  I encourage you to come too.

Unit on Functions: A Work in Progress

TMC15 has me much more active on Twitter.  Today there has been some talk about building the concept of functions.  Last year Liem and I made functions the main focus of our course.  We feel like a solid understanding of functions, their notation, and their graphs is critical for growth in the direction of Calculus.  The file below contains a series of Scenario-Based Tasks we used last year and some new ones I wrote this summer.  It is very much a work in progress and I would love some feedback if anyone ever takes the time to look through it!

Relations and Functions – N. Goza & L. Tran

The Unit starts by discussing sets of numbers and then moves into relations, functions, and all the related vocabulary and notation we could think of.  I would personally highlight “1.4” and the bike riding part of the “Unit 1 Exam” as the most refined and ready-to-use tasks.

2014-15 Drafts 2: End of the Year Vibes (& Stuff)

I’ve spent the last couple of nights at awards banquets. I’ve watched a lot of graduating seniors get a lot of cool awards and finally get some much deserved recognition as students, leaders, and athletes.  I’ve spent the last couple of days signing yearbooks and explaining to seniors that I’m not going to Grad Night because I don’t really want to and I’m not going to the senior picnic because I have to give finals to my other students who don’t get to close out the year with fun activities.  They remember the feeling.

Around this time of year I start thinking a lot about next year.  I’m worn out, my students are worn out and my class isn’t humming along like we were in November.  I start to forget the good and start trying to think of ways to remedy the bad that has reared its ugly head down the homestretch.  I think this is good for me.  This year I have pages and pages of ideas for next year, and I’ll be more prepared than ever when next year starts.

But tonight I’m reminded that it’s important to focus on the now a little bit too.  My seniors are done with AP Exams and Finals.  The stress of content and grades is gone and finally we can interact without worrying about what we need to get finished or what we can be doing better.  And I’m reminded that my students really like me.  They want me around, they want me at events, they want me to write something profound in their yearbooks and they want me to congratulate them for everything they’ve made it through.

Tonight I can’t help but think of how absent many of these positive vibes and feelings can be in the middle of the grind as we try to meet all my curriculum goals and their desires to pass my class and score well on AP Exams.  And I know why it happens.  It’s pressure, stress, and fear that we will fail each other somewhere along the way.

I doubt it can be avoided, but I can’t help but think there are ways to remedy it a bit.  I’d like to think that throughout the year there have to be ways for my students and I to take a step back, remind ourselves that we like each other, and remind ourselves that this journey we are on together isn’t all about work and results.  It’s also about getting to know each other, learning from each other, enjoying ourselves, and growing as people.  And maybe even acknowledging that we’re having a pretty good time doing it.


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