NCTM Nashville 2015

I spent Wednesday through Friday of last week in Nashville, TN for the 2015 NCTM Regional Conference and Exposition.

Instead of writing a full-blown recap (bedtime approaches) I’ll simply share a question that’s been on my mind since my return flight touched down in Fresno late Friday night. Okay, it’s not really a question, but a series of questions. Here goes:

  1. What makes a conference like NCTM Nashville (or conferences in general) special?
  2. What can you get at a conference that you can’t get on Twitter/blogs?
  3. What can you get on Twitter/blogs that you can’t get at a conference?
  4. Is there anything these two formats could learn from one another that would make each one even better?

I’m still formulating my own answers to these questions. I suspect I’ll write another post in a few days with my thoughts. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you think. Drop a comment below, or give me a holler on Twitter.

P.S. I’ve really enjoyed Cathy Yenca’s and Tracy Zager’s recap posts.

P.P.S. The #MTBoS booth was so much fun!

Comments 3

  1. I recently attended the NCTM regional in Minneapolis. I follow all of the big names on twitter and read up on their blogs. (@nathankraft1, @mpershan, @trianglemancsd, @robertkaplinsky, @mr_stadel, @ddmeyer, @fawnpnguyen, among others)

    The really cool thing about attending a conference is that no-name common math teachers get to interact and listen to rock star mathematicians like the names mentioned above. It’s one thing to read a blog post from someone as famous and brilliant as yourself; it’s quite another thing to be in the same room and shake hands with you.

    It’s similar to attending a live sporting event if you happen to be a sports fan. When in Minneapolis, I was lucky enough to attend the Warriors / Timberwolves game. Seeing Steph Curry in person is a completely difference experience than seeing him on ESPN. Curry is an “A” list celebrity right now and millions of fans go to their local gyms and try to emulate what he is doing on a nightly basis.

    Likewise, the mathematicians I listed above are all “A” list mathematicians and hundreds of math teachers go to their classrooms and try to implement the ideas and activities we read about on their blogs. And if you don’t think of yourself and these other mathematicians as celebrities in the mathematics education field, ask yourself why is there a packed room and a waiting list whenever any of you host a session.

  2. This is not at all a comprehensive reply, but three things stand out to me from the in-person conference experiences that are difficult or impossible to capture online.

    First, I find I remember and learn from some sessions in a way that is different than I can achieve by reading things online, because the presenter actively involved the attendees in a learning or creative task, usually in the role of students (sometimes teachers). Andrew Stadel had us work on a three-act task. Fawn Nguyen had us solve Noah’s Ark. Tina Cardone and Jennifer Bell and Brian Bushart had us solving puzzles and creating activities. Robert Kaplinsky had us modeling confused students and question-asking teachers. Etc., etc.

    Second, the social connections: it is just plain fun to talk and do math together. The more explicitly welcoming the event is to newcomers (publicizing who everyone is — like nametags — and how and where they can meet people they don’t know), the better. Also, meeting someone makes the future online experiences you have with them richer. (Although, on the other hand, I’ve generally found it easier to find and join relevant and broad-ranging conversations online than it is in person at a conference. The MTBoS has been very friendly.)

    Third, although totally different from my first category, some speakers who deliver talks closer to “lecture style” are absolutely inspirational to hear and see. All three main speakers (Ilana Horn, Fawn Nguyen, and Christopher Danielson) at TMC15 were amazing, and the crowd atmosphere was electrifying.

    On the downside, I’ve often felt disappointed in my own follow-through at accessing and organizing resources from conferences — something that is much easier when I am taking my time reading through Twitter links and blog posts. The simpler, more organized, and less platform-specific conferences can make this, the better. I attended one conference last summer that put resources online using Schoology, which may have worked great for people who were already using that, but I wasn’t and never got around to setting it up, so… no online resources for me.

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