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Summer Think ’17 reflection!

After months of planning, the MfA Summer Think has finally been executed! I enjoyed my time this week at MfA’s first Summer Think conference. One of the things I wrote in February that I hoped for was connecting to more teachers within the community.  The icebreaker on the first day was a great start! We had several different prompts and moved around the 17th floor lounge joining groups of teachers that taught in a particular borough, were born in a specific part of the country (or not), taught a specified number of years, and last, had thought of a similar integer (between 1 and 5). This really set the tone for connecting to other teachers and changing up our normal, safe partnerships we have established with our MfA colleagues.

Each daily keynote speaker (Patrick, John and Megan) was inspiring and also offered a glimpse into what makes our profession so complex and yet so rewarding.  I think they all successfully articulated how helpful MfA is in progressing our learning and mastery of our craft. I was inspired to be more public about what I do in the classroom as well as consider publishing my thoughts about teaching or the projects I have or am implementing in my classroom.  It is so important for all of us to celebrate our successes and not dismiss them as “just what we do”. What we do is awesome, amazing and we should be sure to communicate that to a public that is increasingly distrustful of institutions. including education.

The deep dive I participated in was “Facilitation as Leadership”. I decided to take this deep dive because as a current department coordinator and possible coach for preservice teachers this upcoming year, I would like to learn how to get the most out of groups of teachers in an environment I have helped create where ideas are valued, meetings are meaningful and colleagues feel safe enough to discuss and reflect on sensitive or challenging dilemmas.  I could not have been more satisfied with my experience! We explored modeled, and practiced several facilitation protocols, discussed resources and created a safe space within less than a day that allowed several participants to share dilemmas they had come up during their education careers.  I felt so comfortable and Alan was excellent at leading this workshop! I honestly felt so elevated by our discussions and debriefs. It is truly an honor to be in this fellowship with people that I am in awe of who by sharing their own learning process help to enhance mine.

I plan to add more about my support sessions, but my lil daughter is starting to climb furniture so for now I just want to say that this experience has been amazing and I am going to carry the ideas and discussions with me as I plan this summer for the next school year!

– Diana Lennon

Where it all began

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It was last July and I had just returned from Twitter Math Camp in Minneapolis, Minnesota. If you’ve never heard of TMC, then you’re missing out. It’s a teacher-led, teacher-driven conference that’s attended by teachers from all over world. The experience was unforgettable.

Thankfully, Math for America funded my TMC experience through an Impact Grant. As part of the earning the grant, I was required to capture my experiences and share them with MfA. Eager to share my countless takeaways from the conference and pass on inspiration, I emailed my reflections to Courtney Allison. What she said in her reply blew my mind:

“I’d really like to think about an MƒA conference next summer. It would be great to talk this year about innovative ideas from TMC and other conferences that could be inspiration.”

There it was, the unofficial start of the first-ever MfA summer conference.

That fall, back-and-forth communication between her and I ensued around logistics. An awesome planning committee was formed. A schedule was sketched out. Proposals were submitted. Proposals were accepted. Guest speakers were locked in. And now registration has opened.

It’s been a blur. It feels like just yesterday that Courtney replied to my email with the idea.

Needless to say, I’m very excited. But if I’m honest, I have no idea how this thing is going to turn out. But, like I said, I’m very excited. That matters, right?

Here goes nothing.

-Brian

Summer Conference Planning

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I was pretty excited when I heard Math for America was planning a summer conference. I wanted to participate during the fall but had a great PLT that conflicted with the planning times. I decided to join during the spring session and so far have been to two planning sessions.

It’s not unusual to see such a tremendous amount of energy and dedication from the MfA teachers spearheading this daunting task, but I am amazed at how focused Brian and Courtney are and the great response from all that are helping to move this conference forward.

I think the conference will be an opportunity for teachers to take a “deep dive” into topics that we sometimes only scratch the surface with in some of our PD sessions.  I love the idea of making a focused strand for three days to learn more about a topic and create a product!

I also hope the conference will  connect more MfA teachers in a more relaxed environment and that the opportunities for mingling will allow for some fun conversations about recharging and refreshing while igniting ideas for new lessons.

I’m excited to continue working with the planning team to make this an awesome annual event!

Diana Lennon

MfA Master Teacher 2013 Cohort