I, like about 100 other really cool people, have just returned home from TwitterMathCamp 2013 (TMC13) in Philadelphia. For this quiet, somewhat shy, introvert it was a very fulfilling experience.
I learned of TMC12 about a week after it ended last year and felt like I had missed out on the greatest gathering of all time. I’m not sure how I even stumbled upon it, but within a matter of days I felt like I *knew* these people. Immediately I started reading their blogs, stalking them on twitter, basically emerging myself in anything I could find that connected me with them. They all just seemed so…cool. And here’s the crazy thing. They just welcomed me like I had been part of the group all along. They answered my questions, acted like some of my comments were funny, and appreciated the few ideas I shared with them.
So, when I learned that TMC13 was going to happen, I felt compelled to be there and I was not disappointed. It was unlike any conference I had ever attended. If you can imagine, it’s almost like a hybrid between a family reunion, professional development, and summer vacation. I’m used to going to conferences where I cannot wait to get out of the sessions, or I feel like I am wasting my time, or I am frustrated with the lack of professionalism, or knowledge, or innovative ideas. I am not used to being with other people who are as passionate about quality math education as I am. But TMC is different.
Everyone there is an incredible math educator, but everyone is looking for ways to improve. It isn’t about patting oneself on the back, but about helping each other get better. Get better pedagogically. Get better in content knowledge. Get better in lesson planning. Just get better. So kids learn more. And don’t hate math.
You know it’s different when all the participants cannot wait to get together. When the hotel lobby is NEVER empty because everyone is hanging out together. When people are actually SAD that they have to return home and cannot wait to plan the next event. When not only do they spend all day together during sessions, but also every evening at supper, and at non-math festivities. When they would rather be together than sleep. This is PD? Seriously? Seriously. The best kind.