The Prompt for The Virtual Conference on Humanizing Mathematics
Unfortunately, so many people have experienced a mathematics that is devoid of humanity. Francis Su, in the powerful lecture Mathematics for Human Flourishing points out that mathematics should contain experiences of play, beauty, truth, justice, and love. For this virtual conference, we want to see and hear how you, as math teachers, bring out the humanity in mathematics — in small or large ways! So we have a two-fold prompt. Feel free to address one or both!
How do you highlight that the doing of mathematics is a human endeavor?
How do you express your identity as a doer of mathematics to, and share your “why” for doing mathematics with, kids?
We purposefully crafted these prompts to be open-ended and anticipate so many diverse responses! Might it be that you share mathematical history, so students know mathematics is historically and culturally situated? Might it be that you highlight the achievements of mathematicians that look like your students, or don’t look like your students? Might you create a classroom community that empowers your students to bring their whole selves into the classroom? That allows you to bring your whole self into the classroom? Might you have routines that build relationships among the mathematicians in your classroom? Might you have a one-off activity that fractures the sterile notion of mechanical mathematics? Might you teach mathematics through a social justice lens? Might you share your own math autobiography with your kids? Or any other of a million things that you are doing to humanize mathematics for your kids. There is no right or wrong answer, and nothing is so small that isn’t worth sharing! Often times it’s the smallest things that we do that can have the largest impact!
In addition to the two broad prompts, each week we are going to reveal a mini-question (based around the conference theme) at the Conference Convention Center and one of the conference organizers, @HKhodai, will tweet it out.
There are going to be three ways to participate (whoa!), addressing the two broad prompts or the weekly mini-question:
- Write a blogpost: Now you may be thinking… “But no monsieur! I am not worthy of presenting at such an auspicious conference such as this one!” or “I don’t even have a blog!” And to that, we say “Pssssshaw!” We firmly believe that all teacher voices have value, from first-year teachers to veteran teachers, and yours does too. Don’t worry about being the most bewitching writer or crafting the most profound sentiments. And if you don’t want to start a blog but still want to participate but have a lot to say, just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). We got you! We have friends who said they’d be more than happy to publish your thoughts as a guest post on their blog! The key, however, is this: Share your honest thoughts with others and we promise your thoughts will resonate with those who read your post.
- If you’re more comfortable writing a tweet or a tweet thread, you can respond that way! (You just have to have a public twitter account!)
- And if you’re more comfortable just talking or you want to show an artifact or classroom space or whatever, you can record a short 1-5 minute video and post it on youtube with your response or reaction to the two large prompts or weekly mini-question.
Specific details on how to submit your blogpost, tweets, or youtube video are below. This is a sincere invitation to reflect, take a risk, and share your voice with others.
Take a few moments and think about your classroom, and share an activity, a culture you build, a routine or action that you take, a unit that you teach, or anything else, that humanizes mathematics. Or talk about your own identity as a doer of mathematics, and how you share that with your kids! Share these with us so we can learn and grow together!
We’d love for you to jump in and join us in this virtual conference! You might think “What I have to share doesn’t matter… it’s just something small!” or “I’ve never thought about this before, so I’m not really an expert in this… I shouldn’t contribute.” In fact, we think you should! The point of this conference isn’t to get people who have “figured this teaching thing out” to share. It’s to get us to reflect in some small way and learn from each other. We know it can be scary to take the leap to share your thoughts. But think about what you’d tell your students if they said they were scared to do something like this… And think of it this way… it’s just a blogpost, a set of tweets, or a short video! So please please please take that small courageous jump and join us! Each teacher brings humanity into their classroom and shows math to be a human endeavor in their own ways, and we want to hear about yours! The hope is that through this conference, attendees will get to hear from a variety of educators and grow from each other!
To Join The Conference
To be included in this august August conference, all you have to do is write one blogpost , tweet, or youtube video addressing one or both of the broad prompts, or addressing the weekly mini-question posted on the Conference Convention Center.
- If you’re blogging, name the post whatever you want, but please make reference to The Virtual Conference on Humanizing Mathematics and link to the convention center (using this link: https://samjshah.com/humanizing-mathematics-convention-center/ and not www.samjshah.com) somewhere in the text.
- If you’re tweeting, please include the hashtag #VConHM on your first tweet (that stands for Virtual Conference on Humanizing Math).
- If you’re making a youtube video, please make include to TheVirtual Conference on Humanizing Mathematics and link to the convention center (using this link: https://samjshah.com/humanizing-mathematics-convention-center/ and not www.samjshah.com) somewhere in the video’s description.
Then fill out this simple google form from now until August 20th and you’re done!
To be featured on Week 1, submit your blogpost by noon on July 30th
To be featured on Week 2, submit your blogpost by noon on August 6th
To be featured on Week 3, submit your blogpost by noon on August 13th
To be featured on Week 4, submit your blogpost by noon on August 20th
We’ll link your blogpost, tweet(s), or youtube video from the convention center and you’ll be an official presenter in our virtual conference! When each week’s keynote presentation goes live, your presentation will go live too. 
We have a special keynote which will go live on August 29th. On this day, we will not be publishing any contributions. Our keynoter, Dr. Rochelle Gutiérrez, will be publishing our “closing session” for the conference.
[To be clear, this is a virtual conference so there won’t be anyone speaking aloud on stage. By “presenting” you’ll be writing a blogpost, sharing a tweet or tweet thread, or a short video… and submitting it. That’s all! And to “attend” a presentation, you’ll be reading what others have written or watching what they recorded. Also, there is no difference between the weeks. There is just one single prompt that everyone is responding to. We’re just publishing things weekly so you can read/hear ideas as they come in!]
 The idea of the virtual conference was taken wholesale from Riley Lark who hosted two (in 2011and in 2012). Inspired by that, last year at this blog, I hosted the virtual conference on mathematical flavors.
 If you don’t have a blog but have been lurking in the #MTBoS and want to take the leap now, we encourage you to do so! If you are nervous, here is something that can help you. But we encourage you not to obsess about it and jump in. You want your kids to take risks, to push themselves, to be okay with imperfection. So, my friend, take your own advice!