Talk to New Math Teachers

So I’m a little terrified because I never give talks. Some people have thought it weird when I say I hate public speaking, but there are so many teachers I know that feel similarly. And it’s scarier to think that I will be talking to teachers-to-be! Anyway, @PiSpeak (CLopen Mathdebater, mwahahaha) is running a two day session for new math teachers. They are about to have their first year in their classroom. And he wanted them to know that there are communities of teachers outside of their schools that can be a great source of inspiration.

Enter me.

I agreed to a 30/45 minute session with them. My goal is to convince them that reading blogs can be useful. That’s it. I will talk a bit about twitter. And I will probably make a plug for blogging themselves.[1] But that’s it. Showing what’s out there and how it can be useful. The way I hope to do convince them: have them play around online a bunch. See the good stuff out there, and see if they think it can help them.

Here’s what I’ve come up with. Most of the images and links are clickable from the presentation, so go ahead.

[my entrance/exit slip: .docx]

(Here’s an old 7 minute talk on this online community.)

I’m anxious about this, so hopefully it won’t suck. If it does, well, I’ll be glad I did it because I’m putting myself out there. But I will be sad that I took away half an episode of Buffy or 20 pages of 50 Shades of Grey from each person whose time I wasted. I hate having my time wasted, which is why I stress.

[1] I know it isn’t something that everyone recommends for a new teacher… heck, there is enough on their plates… but I blogged from the beginning of my teaching to the present and I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to be able to go back and see how I’ve evolved from that first year.

UPDATE: The results of the Entrance/Exit Slips.

As you saw, I used an entrance/exit slip asking people to say their interest in reading math teacher blogs before the presentation, and afterwards. (Similarly, for using twitter.) Even though not given numerically, I numericized the responses (1=no interest to 4=a lot of interest).

I plotted the before versus after for both reading blogs and twittering, and the line y=x. Anything on the line means I did no harm. Anything above the line means some sort of success (and the further away from the line the better!). Anything below the line means I did some harm.




  1. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! You did a fantastic job! I wish I could be there to hear it in person. Are you going to have us say “Hi!” on Twitter to everyone? That can go either way remember. ;)

    1. Naaah. It’s less about twitter. And I don’t want you posting inapprops pictures for them to see, and get the wrong idea about twitter.

  2. Random idea, that may or may not fit into your session, and also may or may not be any good: get into small groups where teams are randomly assigned a standard from K-12 math curriculum. Groups are then given 10 minutes to come up with an idea for a lesson that hits that standard, and they’re allowed to use the internet. Facilitators help the teams navigate the blog world to find lesson ideas. Then, groups share.

    I figure that this could be a fun way to get some hands on exposure to how exactly the blog world can help new teachers.

    1. Love this idea! But seriously, they are totally going to want to poke around for hours, once they get going. I guess that’s the goal, though–to get them to want to poke around for hours. So, mission accomplished.

  3. One more thought: I use my Google Reader as a search tool for finding lessons. So, when I’m stuck, the first thing I do is search GReader for “negative exponents” or whatever. I wonder, is there a way to show these new teachers that power? What if we set up a Google account with Reader set up with an initial package of blogs. Could they search through these to find lesson ideas?

  4. I got engaged in going deeper and deeper into your linked blogs, etc. It took me WAY more time than 30/45 minutes. However, it will hopefully give your audience just enough information to get them curious! Great plan! There is SOOO much good stuff out there, I wish I could figure out a way when I work with teachers to give them a taste without overwhelming them…and overwhelming ME!

  5. Sam–Ironically, I was recently asked by Mills College to do a very similar talk to their new incoming credential students as well as their recent graduates. I promise not to steal your presentation, but I just got a few good ideas. I will share when I have made a nifty power point cuz right now all I have are ideas brewing in my noggin. My talk isn’t for 3 weeks, but stay tuned.

  6. Your presentation looks great, I’m sure you’ll nail it. I’ve probably presented in front of my peers a hundred times now, and I’m still nervous each and every time.

  7. I’m a veteran educator … taught for a while, took a detour as an administrator … and now returning to the classroom. Since I accepted the position offered, Algebra 1 with ninth graders, I’ve spent much time reading blogs! Just want you to know I love the advice! I haven’t met my colleagues as school yet but feel like I’ve found a host of colleagues online!

  8. We are, as Dan Meyer put it, a faculty lounge without any of the nonsense. Colleagues indeed!!! Welcome to the online math teacher sphere AND your return to the classroom.

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