An Unapologetic Reflection

This post is filled with a bunch of honesty. Not that my other posts aren’t honest, but this one is, like, super honest. I just a gave a talk at the 2015 MACUL technology conference in Detroit, MI. Although I’ve done a lot of sharing and presenting, much of it has been done in collaboration with Steve, or at smaller conferences. I guess I’m saying that this is the biggest conference that I’ve presented at, on my own.

And I have two more tomorrow. (Check out Leveraging Tech to Increase Discourse in Mathematics and Personalized Learning for Student success Friday at 10:00am and 11:30am respectively.)

And I’m giving two of these at the National Flipped Learning Conference this summer.

And another (slightly different) talk at the National AP conference this summer.

And I say this not to brag, but to reflect on the inner turmoil it creates. When you get accepted to talk at major conferences (or any conference) you really start to look inside and wonder…

“Is what I’m doing really that good?”

“Do I really belong here?”

“Are people going to listen to me? Will they think that what I’m doing is positive or worthwhile?”

I think anybody that has ever shared their creative work feels similarly to some degree. It’s part of the human condition to wonder what your peers think about you and our work. To wonder about how you are viewed in different contexts. When I give a talk I’m spilling my guts. I’m putting every shred of my educational philosophy out there for everyone to see (and by it’s nature, to be judged). That has been harder than I could’ve  imagined. A lot of teachers I know get uneasy when another teacher observes a lesson. For me, presenting is like taking that uneasiness and magnifying it by about 100 times. So I understand why teachers don’t often share with the world. It’s scary. Putting your creative work (and yes teaching is creative work) out there for everyone to see is scary. It’s a risk.

But I think that it is ultimately worth it. For me it’s worth it because I’ve seen students truly enjoy mathematics in my class. I’ve seen them understand concepts fully that I didn’t fully understand until I became a teacher. I’ve seen them write about mathematics in a public space (a blog) and do a freakin’ awesome job.

And this stuff can’t die within the four walls of my classroom.

And I’m not saying that my good stuff is any better than the teacher in the room down the hall or across the country. I’m saying I want that teacher to share their good stuff so that it doesn’t die in the four walls of his or her classroom. The world is changing faster than ever and whether you believe or not, the world doesn’t care. We can either adapt and change with it or get left behind. I don’t think I’m too far off when I say that teachers are not viewed in the best light in America. I think one solution to this is that we have to share. There are too many awesome educators doing awesome things to not share the good things we are doing in our classrooms. So start a blog or a website. Share on social media. Visit the classroom down the hall. Ask someone to observe you. Find a way to contribute to the creation of a culture of sharing.

So even though it racks my nerves before my sessions, and my ego gets a kick when a person walks out of my sessions, and I spend days after agonizing over the things I could’ve done differently, I won’t stop telling my story. I won’t stop sharing the great things my students do, the ways in which they learn the concepts, and the growth I see in them.

We, as a profession, have a story to tell. Let’s tell it.

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