I can remember when I first attended CMC, back in 2000-something, my goal was to find good worksheets. The only other professional conference I’d ever attended was CADA, which is the California Association of Directors of Activities conference. CADA is full of teachers who plan rallies and are in charge of school culture and spirit. That conference had strobe lights and cheers and loud music. The sessions were about how to raise student leaders to create a climate on campus that was inclusive and inviting for all students. Our goal was to celebrate all the students and adults on campus. The conference was a giant party.
My early CMC sessions back then were hit and miss. I remember spending a lot of time in the exhibit hall and there were a lot more vendors.
The last CMC I attended back then before all the budget cuts was 2008. I remember attending a session given by Exeter Math and doing an area problem about a goat tied to a barn that made my brain explode. I loved the problem so much I assigned it every Thanksgiving to my Honors Pre Calculus students. Another big takeaway that year was that I needed more individual whiteboards. My coworker and I even stopped at Lowes on our way home to buy a big whiteboard and had it cut down. But I also attended a few sessions with math “tricks” to help kids learn math.
During the next 7 years, we had a big budget cut. Many years of not attending CMC. I had a baby. We switched to Common Core. We struggled to understand what that would mean. I took Jo Boaler’s course. I read everything online I could find about teaching differently than I was. I joined Twitter. We asked our admin to send us back to CMC. We needed help putting all the pieces together and needed inspiration.
CMC 2015 was my tipping point. I attended Robert Kaplinsky’s session on Depth of Knowledge. I went to Michael Fenton’s Desmos session and we Charged, Annie Fetter’s Notice and Wonder session, Michael Fenton (again) talking about his transition away from traditional instruction, and finally got to hear Jo Boaler in person. And Ignite was amazing. I left that conference on a high that lasted 2 years. It reenergized my passion for mathematics education.
I am fortunate to work with people who also felt the same about growing as professionals and doing what is best for kids. Our department started to Notice and Wonder, PBL, Desmos, and Work on our questioning technique. We are now in the 2nd year of a transition to an Integrated Curriculum and first year of CPM.
CMC 2016 was my first day back from maternity leave. So the only thing I got was some separation anxiety from my baby girl.
CMC 2017. It was great. I presented for the first time. Got to see sessions by Chris Shore, Tracy Zager, Fawn Nguyen, and Jo Boaler. I played with open number lines, clotheslines, Notice and wonderings, questions, and visual patterns. There were deep conversations about math and education and politics. I hung out with colleagues and new friends.
But I Noticed that most of what I heard I’d heard already before. And I’m Wondering what I think of that. I’ve already drunk the Kool Aid. Im on board. I agree.