#TMC15 Takeaways

This is the first year of TMC that I felt like part of the crowd and not a fangirl on the sidelines.

I still had to push myself out of my default setting of wanting to be alone. I hugged a bunch of people, hung out with my virtual-Kansas-math-department, and asked a friend to lunch that I really wanted to get to know better. But as soon as it was lunch time, I literally had to stop myself from running to my car and going to eat alone. And when people talked to me, I asked questions instead of just answering theirs and walking away. It was a stretch.

I went to Huntington Beach with Amy and her Kansas people but the other nights I spent alone on purpose. I have to have alone time to recharge. Also I love to shop and haven't found anyone who can hang with me yet. And I like to eat bad food and stay up late so I'm kind of strange like that.

This is also the first year of TMC that I left feeling like I had a lot of practical, low-risk, high impact changes I could make right away that didn't involve redoing my entire curriculum (although I still feel that way).

So this year my TMC post is not touchy-feel-warm-fuzzy (although I experienced many of those moments) but practical.

Here are some of things I plan to do this year:

  • High Fives- Glenn Waddell high-fived every student every day this past school year. He said it was one of the best years he's ever had and he attributed a lot of it to the high-fives; it built a culture of trust quickly by having fun and laughing together. How do you high-five someone and not smile? I need to work on my mood and attitude in the classroom and this is a great way to start.
  • Music Cues- Matt Vaudrey claims you can save 23 hours a year by using music cues for transitions in the classroom. I hate to say type this aloud but I'm not all obsessed with music like a lot of people are. I mean I like it and I listen to it some but I never listen to it in the car, or well I don't know when I do. But music is incredibly important to teenagers and using it for cues can save me time and voice while also connecting better with the students.
  • "Ask Me Questions!"- This comes from Rachel Kernodle and helps build the expectation that I WANT them to ask questions. Christopher Danielson had another suggestion of saying "What new questions can you ask?" Kate Nowak also used "Would you explain your knowledge of his/her solution?" All of these are replacements for the classic "Any questions?" which I vow to never utter again! Chris Shore also used brain stickers to reward students for good questions. Rachel challenged us to take note of two things: What's the best question *I* asked today and what's the best question a *student* asked today?
  • "That's Not a Choice"- From my #fawncrush, this is a way to set and enforce boundaries and structure that both I and my students crave. It's also way better than just saying no and helps to refocus students to what the choices actually are.It keeps me focused on the things that are within my control so that I never give up on taking action.
  • "Shut It Down!"- I just finished watching 30 Rock so this is a Liz Lemon classic that I have the perfect tone of voice and facial expression to deliver with enough fear to consider it a classroom management tool. (Along with 'What the what?', 'Blergh!', "High-fiving a million angels', 'I want to go to there', and 'Dealbreaker!')
  • Show Your Thinking- Students are so used to hearing 'Show your work' that they just tune that right out. Asking them to show their thinking makes me feel like that opens up more room for students to express their thinking other than calculations. Inspired by this tweet:
  • #onegoodthing blog- I'm challenging myself  to post one good thing every school day this year as another way to keep myself focused on positive things and being happy in the classroom. Last year a lot of weirdbadcrazy things happened and I'm attributing that to a "sixth year slump" and being proactive about making this year better.
  • 180blog- Megan wrote a helpful blog post about automatically importing Instagram photos with a certain hashtag to a blog post. I'd like to also post a photo a day for this year too. I know, I know, I'm probably over-committing myself but the worst that can happen is that I don't do it. 
  • Error Analysis- I am a big fan of Andrew Stadel and I used his estimation180.com once a week this whole year. He talked about presenting concepts by giving wrong answers (that are common misconceptions) and having students try to decide the correct answers. He used exponents as an example and it seemed so elegant. I'm really intrigued to try this with more concepts like multiplying polynomials, solving equations, and logarithms.
  • Which One Doesn't Belong?- I'm using these as a warm-up one day a week this year. They are so simply complex and easy to extend- give three examples and have students create the fourth, have students create their own, have students write a justification for why each doesn't belong. So rich! 
  • Showing Student Work- Now I can remember who I talked with about this (Sadie maybe?) but it never occurred to me to have students show their work to the class on the document camera. What a great skill- to present and defend your thinking. I just thought students would compare with people around them and that would be good enough. False! A simple change that I can easily implement.

Highlights of TMC:

  • Fawn and her telling me that I am one of the first blogs she started following *shock*
  • Being in a session with Andrew Stadel
  • The beach and Fred's with my Kansas people
  • Listening to Sadie speak
  • Watching Alex draw his perfect circle
  • Watching Lisa Henry be appreciated
  • Inside jokes that only us intronerds get
  • Lunch with Rachel
  • Two Twitter ladies recognizing me in the airport
  • Meeting and following new tweeps
  • Jonathan telling me how my questions helped him fine tune some activities
  • Being remembered by people!
  • Reading funny math t-shirts
  • This awesome #needaredstamp
  • The gorgeous California weather and the super polite people
  • IN-N-OUT!
  • Teresa telling me that she really liked my site and activities
  • This amazeballs new teacher bag I bought
  • My People!

  • Reuniting with my people, feeling accepted and supported, and knowing that feeling will continue through the year

See you next year!


  1. Wow!!! Great takeaways!!! You don't get things like that at your traditional staff development training so I love it.

    Definitely going to do the "High Fives," "That's Not a Choice" and "Show Your Thinking"

    Low-level, cost effective strategies to implement that all require a standard of excellence from the students. I'm ready for August 10th!!!

    1. I'm glad you're ready....I'm definitely not! :)

  2. Thanks for sharing those takeaways!!

    I love the music as a transition - anything to help save my voice!! I'll also probably use "Show Your Thinking."

    1. I think the students will love it because music is such a part of their identity at this stage.

  3. We sound a lot alike. My first instinct is to run and be alone; I would need to put myself out of my comfort zone and push myself to be around people. And when I do, I wonder I wanted to run in the first place.

    I absolutely love all of your takeaways. Even though I wasn't able to make it to #TMC15 I feel that I get something out of it by readying your blog. Thank you! I'm just going to print out this post and do my best to keep up with you. See you at #TMC16!!!

    1. Thank you!

      We definitely need to meet at #TMC16.

  4. Great Post! Thank you for taking such great notes! I wish I got to say "thank you" in person for all that you have added to the MTBoS. Maybe I didn't run into you because I am a bit of an introvert too. Ach. Well, there is next year and twitter!

    I love your question, "What concepts can we teach through error analysis?" Definitely the distributive property as in: (x+5)^2 does not equal x^2+25 and sin(x + y) does not equal sinx + sin y!

    1. Amy, that is so kind. Thank you! Taking notes is how process and remember things- there's so much to learn and I don't want to waste any of it.

  5. Aww, I am so far behind on my blog reading! We will always be your extended math department in Kansas. Hope we get to hang out with you again next year!