Ann and I having great time in Philly at Twitter Math Camp - amazing ideas and energy! Massive hope for what is possible.
— Steve Leinwand (@steve_leinwand) July 27, 2013
You guys, we gave @steve_leinwand hope. We can go home now.Like my spiritual and general life role model, Wile E. Coyote, I am invariably hopeful in a small sense that this will FINALLY be the moment — that perfect moment when all my best-laid "plans" will do the trick and I will, at long last, have the solid, effortlessly nourishing, and unshakable ground beneath my feet that I crave (and that I believe I so richly deserve).
— Kate Nowak (@k8nowak) July 27, 2013
But years of experience have taught me that that is the "hope" of an Indulging Baby — a person who looks like an adult on the outside, but who really walks around believing that my every problem, need, and desire in life should be solved by benevolent and invisible external forces. This is in harmony with my frequent conviction that my life really ought to operate like one of those behavioral experiments in which, each time I press the correct lever, the Universe promptly and consistently rewards me with a food pellet.
So I'm sure you can imagine my annoyance with the reality that life — and teaching — refuse to cooperate with my first-draft of things.
For the second year in a row, I have blown away by what I receive at Twitter Math Camp. The best, the most creative, the most resourceful, and the deepest-thinking math teacher I know in the English-speaking world show up and share with me their 'A' game. This is not so much a blessing to me as what I would describe as a complete fucking miracle. In sharing, in presenting, in participating, and in attending, every single person at this conference gives me a richer PD experience than many teachers ever get in an entire lifetime.
And in a sense, that is the point.
For me, this conference is about refilling the well at The Great Oasis of The Impeccable Warriors. There pretty much are no Indulging Babies here at TMC. If you want somebody to take care of you and make you feel better and wipe your butt, well, this is not going to be the place for you. Everybody here is truly impeccable. To me, that means that everybody does the very best they can in whatever situation they are in. It's a stone soup mindset. If everybody has crap, then we will be eating crap soup that night. But if everybody brings one small, precious ingredient to the soup, then we will be eating like royalty — or at least, like Silicon Valley-based organizations that are overfunded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (use your imagination, or consult @fnoschese's Twitter feed and/or blog).
That is not to say that everything is perfect. People are still people, which means we can all sometimes be thoughtless, stupid, impulsive, stubborn, rude, and a whole host of other things.
But what makes this work, I think, is that everybody here owns their own "stuff" and is willing to be accountable for what they put into the communal mystic cookpot.
The truth behind the truth is, I brought my 'A' game too. I worked for three months on my sessions, planning, preparing, reflecting. You guys are my tweeps. My tribe. Even though I had an almost totally crappy year, I did not want to let you down. And I have learned that I will get back in proportion to what I put in (cf. CCSSM 8.F.1 and 8.F.3, and passim).
So my challenge to everybody who is attending Twitter Math Camp for the first year this year is to reflect on this question:
Now that you have fifty percent as much experience with TMC as even the most experienced Twitter Math Campers among us, how are YOU going to help make Twitter Math Camp just as amazing next year?I strongly believe that the people who show up for something are exactly the right people. So, hey — welcome to the club of Impeccable Math Camp Warriors! You certainly have something important to contribute, or you would not be here reading this.
You don't have to answer this question right now. But if you want this to be here next year — both for yourself and for others — it is important to hold this question in your heart as you process the experiences you've had these past several days.
I believe that hope is a process, not a destination, and I believe that what Steve Leinwand was responding to was the awesome force field of being in the presence of 125 impeccable warriors all being impeccable together — 125 math teachers who don't simply complain about what a mess things are, but rather who each grab a mop and say, oh, I see— I'll do it.