The Prompt for The Virtual Conference on Mathematical Flavors
In Becoming The Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had, the book’s author Tracy Zager shared two wordles. The first are words teachers used to describe their experiences as math students, and the second are words that mathematicians use to describe mathematics.
During the month of August, I’m hosting a virtual conference. The principal question: “What flavor of mathematics are you serving up in your classroom?” We have nine keynote speakers who will share blogposts on how students are taught to perceive mathematics in their classrooms. But more importantly, you are invited to present at the conference too! Nay, you are encouraged to present at the conference too!  It doesn’t matter if you teach two or a hundred kids, or work with elementary students or college students!
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, I say “Pssssshaw!” I 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 it’s super easy to start a blog, if your currently blogless. And if you really really don’t want to start a blog but still want to participate, just email me (email@example.com). I 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 I promise your thoughts will resonate with those who read your post.
This is a sincere invitation to reflect, take a risk, and share your voice with others.
Take a breath. Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine at the start of the year you asked your kids what comes to mind when they think of math. Then you ask them again at the end of the year. How do you think the wordles of their responses be different?
Your teaching practice has an impact on how your kids think about mathematics. Our classrooms are little bubbles and while kids are sitting in them, they are picking up all kinds of signals about mathematics. You might have students leaving a year with you thinking mathematics is collaborative, or that it requires taking risks, or that it is hard but hard is okay. We all have our own unique flavor of mathematics that we are imparting to students through how we orchestrate our classes day in and day out. So here’s the formal prompt:
How does your class move the needle on what your kids think about the doing of math, or what counts as math, or what math feels like, or who can do math?
Some random blog titles that I’m making up right now on the spot that I imagine someone could submit for this conference might be:
- Equality isn’t always equality: mathematics as a tool for social justice
- The answer isn’t the end, but rather a powerful gateway to a new question
- If math in my classroom were a cartoon cereal creature, it would be Toucan Sam, always following his nose!
- Mathematics is visual… and algebraic… and numerical… and …
- Transcendent beauty: mathematics is a pathway to joyful intellectual moments
- Mathematics is a powerful tool to answer questions about the world around us
- Exercises in productive frustration
- The creation of mathematics is a process of creating and correcting mistakes
- The messiness of my classroom at any given time reflects the messiness of mathematics
- …and zillions of others
To Join The Conference
To be included in this august August conference, all you have to do is write one blogpost addressing the prompt on your own blog. Name the post whatever you want, but please make reference to The Virtual Conference of Mathematical Flavors and link to the convention center (using this link: https://samjshah.com/mathematical-flavors-convention-center/ and not www.samjshah.com) somewhere in the text. Then fill out this simple google form from now until August 27th 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
To be featured on Week 5, submit your blogpost by noon on August 27th
I’ll link your blogpost 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’d love for you to jump in and join us in this virtual conference! Each teacher creates their own flavor of mathematics through their teaching, and we want a taste of yours! The hope is that through this conference, attendees will get to sample many sweet varieties, and experience the wide range of ways that teachers affect the way students experience math.
[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 and submitting it. And to “attend” a presentation, you’ll be reading what others have written. Also, there is no difference between the weeks. There is just one single prompt that everyone is responding to. I’m just publishing things weekly so you can read ideas as they come in!]
 If you don’t have a blog but have been lurking in the #MTBoS and want to take the leap now, I encourage you to do so! If you are nervous, here is something that can help you. But I 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!