It’s math conference time – San Francisco and Oakland in April. Can’t wait! For me personally, it’s been two years since my last math conference attendance. My hiatus was for personal reasons – little things like defending my dissertation among them. I have to say, I have missed the conferences – the energy, the reconnecting with friends and colleagues, the learning of new things and exploring the host cities. There are teachers out there that say face-to-face conferences are losing their appeal and are not relevant, but I disagree. While these conferences may not be as intimate and personally focused as say Edcamps, which are one of the new professional learning non-conferences, I do think they still have value and purpose.
One thing national conferences do is bring together people from all over the USA as well as other countries, so there are opportunities to get national and global perspectives. Another value is the ability to “pump up” and inspire teachers with new ideas or strategies or tools that allow them to go back to their classrooms rejuvenated and excited about teaching again. It’s also a great venue for asking questions and getting information about educational changes – for example, the new ESSA law, assessment changes, and standards. If you can meet one new person, learn one new strategy, get excited about changing one thing in your classroom, then the conference will have value to you.
Are there things that NCSM/NCTM could do better? Sure – free wifi everywhere would be nice, as you find at an ISTE conference. This allows everyone to tweet and connect during the conference, making the whole experience more collaborative and informative. Perhaps that is happening this year – I don’t know. More informal “meet ups” would be nice too – where people of like mind can get together informally in a designated area to discuss a topic. Like a blogger meetup, or a Twitter Meetup area, or even an Edcamp meetup. These things may be happening – it would be nice to see.
I am excited the conferences are in the San Francisco area and that I get to be there to interact with state leaders at ASSM, district leaders at NCSM, and then teachers at NCTM. It will be an interesting experience this year with NCSM being in Oakland and NCTM in San Francisco, but that’s what Bart and Uber are for, right? Having worked for Key Curriculum for seven years, I grew to love the Emeryville/San Francisco area, so coming back feels like coming home. And most of my Key peeps are still there or are working for companies that are represented at NCTM, so it will be a reunion of sorts. Family time!
Going as a consultant with Casio will be a new experience for me, but I absolutely love being part of the whole exhibitor end of NCSM/NCTM because there are so many ways to connect with and share ideas with educational leaders and teachers. Casio is going to have a fun interactive booth this year – doing math and helping show the power of technology integration. We have lots of fun things in store – game shows, workshops, hands-on take-away activities, lots of prizes (Gshock watches, calculators, keyboard, projector). All to support math teachers, the Common Core, real-world math applications, and teaching with technology. Check out some of what will be going on at Casio here.
Looking forward to some new experiences, new connections, meeting up with old friends and colleagues, and most importantly, learning something new to improve my own practice. Collaboration, sharing, and learning – that’s what it’s all about.