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.
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:
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.