Sunday, 15 February 2015

TMC: Your Turn There

I won’t be going to “Twitter Math Camp” (TMC) this year. But if you’re a math teacher, I recommend you try it out. This post of mine has some tips.

In theory, that’s all I really need to say, but regular readers know I enjoy overanalyzing everything, from teaching to depression to “failure” as a fiction writer. Also, I posted last year and the year before about whether to attend TMC, and I’m a fan of tradition. So let’s make a longer post out of this. Reading it is optional.

Courtesy of AMV Friday #7
Oh, you’re reading? Here, have a bonus AMV soundtrack.


THE SIMPLE ANSWER


In brief, the TMC logistics aren’t great this year - it’s July 23-26, in California... shortly after my cousin’s wedding. In Germany. Now, that doesn’t make it impossible. My wife was even debating making the trip with me this year. But it now looks like she won’t get the extra vacation time.

Coupling that with the same concerns of last year (notably another white male taking up a place), and the fact that I could use “down time” this summer (having had little of it in 2014), I reach the conclusion that TMC 2015 is not for me.

Oh, there’s also the fact that I declared myself a writer and seceded from the MTBoS back in August. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t been hashtagging much, or going to GlobalMath presentations and guild meetings and all.

Some of you may even be wondering who I am... I’m the guy who made the parabola a character in the time travel serial I began in September.

THE MORE COMPLEX ANSWER


It's a natural extension. I’ve done the whole TMC thing backwards. It might be sad, if it wasn’t funny.

Consider - when you first learn about something, do you toe about in the shallow end for a while, to become more familiar, or do you immediately dive into the deep end? In my case, I’m an introvert who prefers to take on a supporting role. In 2013, I didn’t know the attendees, except through Twitter and a couple Google Chats. As I said above, I even blogged about indecision over whether to attend at all. So what do you think is the natural course of action?

I not only attended, I signed up to present a session. And a “My Favourite”. With AV clips. Handing out business cards to people. Singing 3 parody songs at karaoke. And I live blogged the whole experience. Daily. Deep end much?

Where exactly do you go from there? How do you top that?

Well, you don’t. Which is why in 2014 I didn’t present a damn thing, only offered a card to a couple people, and generally hung about in the background. Trying to act as a bridge between new and old attendees. Blogging summary points in a not-wholly-live way.

Now, in 2015, I won’t be there at all, I’ll simply be lurking online. I actually haven’t tried that yet, I only found the MTBoS after the first TMC in 2012. Meaning, it’s like I’m at the beginning.

Are we backwards, or are they backwards?
Surely I’m not the only one who sees that as completely backwards?

Then again, it DOES make a certain amount of sense. From the perspective of being insecure.

In 2013, I was adrift, looking for like-minded people, looking for serial readers, looking for song writers - but I was afraid to approach anyone. So I did the equivalent of running around, waving my arms in the air with my hair on fire, to see whose attention I might attract.

In 2014, I knew the format, and (despite my ability to jumble names in my head) had a better sense of individuals. Others also had a better sense of me. So, with no need to make a name for myself, I sat back, learned, and tried to facilitate things for others. (Or, you know, sabotage them, using my old technology...)

In 2015... I’m a known quantity. My stance on things hasn’t changed much in the past two years. If something relevant comes up, I’m easily messaged. I’m not needed. Better to let someone else put in their voice in my place.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like I’ve peaked myself. Perhaps I’m at the “plateau” stage mentioned in one of Michael Pershan’s older blog posts. But I feel that pushing myself at this stage is liable to make me capsize, or quit altogether. No one wants that.

Life is a road, and I want to keep going on... eventually.

For right now, I’m at peace with where I am in the journey. (Even if where I am involves continuous struggling with marking on “levels”.) In particular, I’m less insecure, professionally if not personally, and while it would be nice to see TMC tweeps again... I’ve never been a social beast. Someone else is liable to get more out of the experience.

Along those lines, are you a math teacher? Do you feel the need to push yourself? Or do you feel like you need your status quo shaken up? Then I reiterate, I recommend you sign up. The link to my tips again is here. TMC may challenge you. It may change you. And although you won’t see me there, you’re welcome to tweet at me any time. I’ll be there when the storm is through - at the beginning with you.

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