I’ve been off. For a long time. But I’m coming back with lots to tell. Firstly let’s do a then & now to summarize a fews items.
I wanted to get back to working with people, in classrooms, so I applied for and was chosen to work at Heritage High School as an instructional technology teacher. It feels good to be a regular on a campus. I get to hear, “hi Mr. Butler” again. I missed that. I’m working in depth with a handful of teachers, running some side projects with digital citizenship and social media, and showing teachers ninja moves with ed tech. A couple of those teachers I work closely with have been starting to use Desmos, particularly the activity builder content.
My wife and I are expecting a child on valentine’s day. We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, and honestly I’m not sure if I’m biased one way or the other. People keep asking us if we’ve at least got a name. Some have encouraged to follow the J-trend from our families. My name is Jed, and I have an older sister (Julia) and a younger brother (Jake). Both of my brothers-in-law are J’s (Justin and James), and my nephews are Jace and Jayden. I think we’ve about exhausted it, so we’re aiming for something from the other 25 letters from the english alphabet.
For those that don’t recognize it, the image is from Son of Flubber, the follow-up of Disney’s Absent Minded Professor. Friends and family sometimes listen to what I say and they imagine this guy in the picture, conjuring up crazy experiments for the classroom. In my position as a coach, I’ve lost the opportunity to use my own classroom as a lab, but the alternative is actually turning out to be awesome. After some convincing, the teachers that I work with volunteer to host my experiments. I’ve been able to see students use Google drawings and slideshows to improve vocabulary in a Spanish classroom by personalizing the content, 3 ELA teachers are piloting a new internal blogging system that utilizes the open platform from wordpress.org, help support the video production course in establishing a daily news show, desmos activities in math classrooms, and building a digital citizenship program for the freshmen foundations courses. The assistant director in my district now shares a workflow spreadsheet with me entitled “Jed’s Hair-Brained Schemes”.
With all this excitement, I still want to do some old favorites – so I have plans for two big math + tech series, both housed over at transformulas.org.
- I love transformations, and I see how it builds a backbone for secondary math in today’s classroom. I need to share this conversation with others. So I’m writing about it over the next while (let “while” be somewhere between 6 months and a year; I really have no idea of the time line)
- Desmos Activity builder is awesome. I need to push myself to use it more. (Others should too). I want to dive into lesson (re)design playing in the desmos platform. No set goal here, but more a desire to build.
I might be a groupie, or is it campie? I like to attend edcamps: (IE, LA, Murrieta, OC, 605, San Diego, and UCLAcenterX). I’m okay with it. I go for a lot of reasons.
1) Vote with your feet
The culture of EdCamp says, if you don’t like it, move on. This idea makes my heart sing because differentiation is determined by the participant. If a session is not meeting your needs, the only one responsible for that is you.
I’ve walked out on my own set of sessions, sometimes because the title didn’t live up to what I was hoping. Other times, it felt like a rerun that I didn’t want to experience a second time.
This concept is central to EdCamps, and without it I would not participate. This works out well because…
2) …only cost is time
Those capable and willing of giving their time show up for EdCamps. Someone displeased with their experience only sacrificed time. Attendance is optional, so only those wanting to attend actually show up.
Not to mention Freebies often supported by sponsors. I have yet to attend an EdCamp that didn’t have some type of welcome coffee and/or breakfast. Raffles and prizes are often waiting for those who stay through the end as well.
3) Connecting with People
I get to connect with a load of great people daily through the magic of technology, particularly twitter. I’m a big fan of #MTBoS, twittermathcamp, #caedchat, and reading blogs with feedly. These connections run deep for me, yet a face to face for five minutes can still be more. It’s not like EdCamp is the only place I talk with other humans, but it helps me keep a fresh perspective on everything. Others challenge me with ideas and questions I’d have never considered. I get to pose the same challenges to others in a safe environment. I also get a change to burst my Math bubble. At an EdCamp I get to interact with teachers, coaches, admins, parents, and even students to talk about pressing issues. These connections are what make me return the most.
Exploring big questions, Maker Spaces (and Breaker Spaces) with Scott Bedley and others
Wishes for the future
Attend more EdCamps (IE, LA, Long Beach, Murrieta, OC, RivCo, SD, SFBay, Yosemite, 605)
Establish new EdCamp with others at my employer (Perris Union)
Bring more people to EdCamp (carpool = awesome)
Upon returning from Twitter Math Camp 2014 I felt like this:
I didn’t really know how to process it. I couldn’t compare my experience to another TMC because this was my first. As the weeks approached, I felt a little like a the slow crescendo.
I arrived late with John Stevens, Mrs. Stevens, and Sadie Estrella late the night before the big event. We had great conversation and got to sleep a few hours after midnight, just a few hours before needing to be up for the big show at Jenks High School. Around 7am, we start seeing faces. For some this is a long awaited reunion, and for others this is a first encounter. No matter the previous experience, everyone seemed to be feeling like this as twitter handles turned into real life:
In some ways I didn’t truly understand what was happening around me. I’ve felt like the outlier in my incessant passion for math and learning. Our backgrounds were varied, the common ground of interests kept us bouncing from one conversation to the next.
Then we get to the facility.
It just kept escalating. Then start our morning sessions. This was a pleasant twist on conference workshops. Being able to meet for a few hours each morning over multiple days allowed us to truly develop a deeper insight into some specific math content, and package that understanding into something we could take home with us. It’s not really possible to do this at another conference. TMC keeps a good balance of meeting the masses, while supporting conversations in smaller communities. This is what makes it so special. I have heard some worries about TMC losing value as it grows, but as long as we have groups like the morning sessions in which we can have the intimacy and depth of relationship TMC will still maintain its appeal for me.
Then I get to be in a session with Pershan on complex numbers and geometric rotations. His craft as a teacher is what impressed me most. He let us work through some material in small groups, and guided us in the classic, “I’m going to pretend like I don’t know where this will end up.” Then another whoa.
Every night I would fall asleep exhausted from the constant mind blowing experiences. My awesome roommate, Chris Shore, was able to help me remember this experience.
— Chris Shore (@MathProjects) July 27, 2014
Occasionally I may have had a moment where the rise and fall seemed less impacting relative to other extreme moments at the conference,
but the bumps kept coming.
Then I return home, work for a couple of days and then off to more conferences. Only now is TMC truly starting to settle for me. This conference has transformed me, and only now am I able to process the experience. As this rollercoaster feeling diminishes, I’m seeing how the conference is having direct effect in my professional and personal life. Only 350ish days until we do this again.
to be continued…..
(I plan to follow up this post with another soon on how I plan to incorporate TMC into my work and that of my colleagues as well.)
In #slowchated a while ago the topic was on Change. Inspiring change, cultivating change, and the purpose of change. I remember going through a course on leadership and psychology that was focused on the text Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution. The discussions often overlapped with the concept of thinking outside the box in order for change to be possible.
Example from parenting
(not from experience, no kids yet):
Son keeps locking himself in room to try and avoid interacting with family. Parents want their son to interact more and stop being so evasive.
Remove the locks.
The answer is simple, but it breaks a rule that wasn’t even a rule. There’s a lock on the door. It was already there, so it must be a requirement.
I feel like this is how educators and learners get stuck. That’s how it was, so that’s how it should be, and that’s how it will continue to be. The educator I started out being is only some arbitrary portion of the one I am today. How did that happen? I’m pretty sure I didn’t just do what everybody else was doing. I also did do the same thing that I did the day before. Often times I had an inclination that a lesson could have gone a different way, an activity or assessment could have been more authentic, or there may be an alternative to what I had tried in the class.
What are we so afraid of?
Why don’t we try new things or different things in the class? Maybe it’s a matter of effort and exhaustion. Maybe it’s discomfort with what others may see as failure. Maybe we would rather be safe than sorry because the development of the youth in the class is at stake. I don’t know what it is, but I’m more afraid of thinking that this is how things should be for the rest of my life and I might as well get comfortable with it.
Too Much Change?
Is it possible that change actually turns into chaos? I would say yes. In fact, this year has probably felt more like chaos than progress. That is, until I start to reflect on what has been accomplished through interactions with others. Blogging, tweeting, GHOs, and meet-ups have been huge stabilizers for me. Sharing experiences with others and learning from others experiences supports taking these leaps of change.
Where do I start?
Write it down. Talk about it. Be social about it. Journal. Locking yourself up in a room for 7+ hours a day won’t get you to change. Break the locks and start looking for others that are trying to break out as well. Start small or jump in, but however it may be: