My nightmare came true! I was asked to give an Ignite speech in front of all the middle school principals and instructional coaches. Despite being in front of children all day and frequently presenting to staff at my school, public speaking is one of my…least comfortable areas. I was free to choose any topic, but the theme of the meetings is “I used to…, but now I…”.
I was asked to present by my coach and resource teacher. Her confidence in my ability and her consistent support made it possible for me to overcome my discomfort. After my initial reluctance, I accepted and had to pick a topic. After reaching out to my coaching colleagues, I landed on math and coaching. Initially I made a presentation that came off as very preachy. I’ve come by some hard-earned wisdom about math pedagogy that I thought I could share with instructional leaders in a way that would empower them to feel confident with discussing math pedagogy. What I found instead was that by sharing my personal journey, I could accomplish the same goal in a way that may be more well received. I’ve made a lot of poor choices throughout my career, but have tried hard to learn from them. Acting as if I’ve never (or don’t still) givea worksheet to practice skills is counterproductive to a true narrative and a realistic vision of math education.
An underlying push in this talk is the influence of the #MTBoS (the Math Twitter Blog-O-Sphere, an online community of math educators) on my teaching, personal and professional growth. Many of the techniques were either acquired directly from this group of amazing people, or, at the very least, I discovered I was not alone in my findings about how students learn math best, reassuring me that my techniques were following a good path.
While the talk may not be as inspiring as Annie Fetter’s Notice &Wonder or DanMeyer’s Math Class Needs a Makeover, I was happy to be able to share my journey with my district and am hopeful that it carries some positive influence and change behind it. I am also so thankful to have so many people, both in real life and on the internet to both challenge and support me. I’m a lucky guy!