#TMC16 Underwhelming Myself

It's inevitable that you will be overwhelmed at some point at TMC.

Either you're overwhelmed by all the ideas and strategies and things you must change immediately, overstimulation, fan-girling, getting up early and going to bed late, wearing real clothes, going out to eat for every meal, and so on.

At some point in those four days, my perspective shifted. I love how God's timing makes everything converge. Before TMC I read Unshakeable by Angela Watson and Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. One encouraged me, one overwhelmed me and upended what I thought I knew about teaching math.

Then when I go to TMC, I hear two specific things that echoed those books more than once:
  1. Time is not your most valuable resource, your energy is
  2. So be intentional with your time and your craft
So in an effort to underwhelm myself and be intentional, I'm going to share the big ideas that I'm overwhelmed inspired by and the baby steps that I will take this year, without feeling the need to change everything or change nothing.

  • When I read blog posts, I will actually comment on them
  • When I get on Twitter, I will answer a question or encourage someone
  • I will share resources on Twitter in addition to just asking questions
Collaborate with Elementary Teachers
  • Use our early release time to sit in on elementary meetings and see how they plan or RTI
  • Ask elementary teachers some favorite teaching strategies
  • Pick one course, probably Algebra I, and list pre-skills for each skill throughout the year
  • Use Kuta to create pre-assessments over the summer
  • Try to create intervention boards, if even just one board per unit
  • Number Talks
Explore Math
  • Try this on a small scale with my senior math class, especially great toward the end of the year
  • Also try The Mathematician Project!
Make It Stick
  • Actually read the book
  • Start the year by educating students on growth mindset and come back to it all year
  • Add self-assessment questions to quizzes and tests
  • Regularly incorporate reflection into our INBs or as homework through Google Classroom
  • Try an end of unit summary sheet for INB
  • Actually close the lesson
More Than Resources
  • Be more intentional with my blog posts...instead of just sharing resources, share how and why I created them 
  • Be deliberate in practicing my questioning skills and reflecting
  • Keep running Google Docs for each course to reflect on lessons, formative feedback for myself, and also share with the world
  • Make a 31 day calendar of pictures that remind you of things to intentionally focus on on a daily basis.
  • Follow people on Twitter that don't look like me
  • Create a place for students to talk and get out of the way
  • Read and engage in #educolor chats
Mathematical Mindsets
  • Repeat growth mindset
  • Continue not giving homework
  • Ask students to look for a visual first
Teacher Moves

For the first time, I didn't leave feeling star struck, so overwhelmed that I wanted to cry, afraid that I'm a terrible teacher, or guilty that I'm not doing enough.

I feel supported. These are my people. They've got my back. 

I've decided that I will no longer be overwhelmed by TMC but I will be inspired by the great amount of good work to do and I will get started!

And to quote one of my favorites, "I'm committing myself to this work for years, not months- and it's okay to have miles left to go."

Minneapolis was a lovely city! The weather was gorgeous, there were parks and grass and water everywhere. I did a lot of walking, shopping, and eating. I visited at least five different towns and enjoyed Augsburg College campus. I truly enjoyed myself so I hope you enjoy some pictures!

And I would NEVER forget our annual song:


  1. Thank you for this reflection. These types of posts really help me refine my big takeaways from professional learning.

    Can you elaborate on why you feel affirmed in not assigning homework. We are having this discussion in our school and am curious of your thoughts.

    1. I've never been a firm believe in homework but I just finished reading Mathematical Mindsets which shared a lot of research that homework does not improve achievement. See my post here http://misscalculate.blogspot.com/2016/07/i-give-up-on-homeworkagain.html for direct quotes. Also, it assumes that students have the time and environment to do it well, it intrudes on family and extracurricular time, and sometimes assumes their is a parent home or able to help.

  2. I concur with Aaron, your posts are helping me think deeply and make necessary shifts--baby steps. These posts also help feel like I am part of YOUR community, not just a fangirl. Thanks Elissa

    1. Thank you for saying that Amy, I'm glad they come across like that.

  3. This is such a great post. I was going to make my own list - but might just borrow yours! - Wendy

    1. Thanks Wendy, I'm feeling pretty excited and motivated for this year....of course it's only July. =)

  4. Thanks for all of your TMC recap blog posts, and especially this one to tie it all together! I love these baby steps, and especially the part about commenting on blog posts so I thought I'd try it out! :) Btw, is there a way to "subscribe" to your blog and/or get emails with new posts? I couldn't find one but have a harder time keeping up with blogs during the school year so just thought I'd check!

    1. I added one just for you! Thanks for taking your first baby step ;)

    2. Yay found it - Thank you!!