Recently, I had the privilege to present at the amazing California Mathematics Council South (CMC-South) Conference in Palm Springs. It was my first time presenting at a math conference and it was one of the most enjoyable yet terrifying experiences in my teaching career.
For months leading up to the conference, I received invaluable advice from colleagues, family and friends that helped me prepare for my session that I don’t want to forget. Now that I have had an opportunity to present and time to reflect on everything, I feel that their words of wisdom have a brand new meaning now.
There are two reasons for me writing this post:
(1.) To remind myself what to keep in mind next time I present at a math conference based on the advice I received and from my experience.
(2.) To express gratitude to those of you who attended my session and those of you who helped me along the way.
I decided to write two different letters (one to my future self and the other to my colleagues, friends and family) because I feel it’s the most appropriate space for me to be completely honest and vulnerable.
Here it goes…
A Letter to My Future Self
If you are reading this, you’re probably getting ready for your next presentation at a math conference or are considering writing a proposal for a conference session. If there’s one big idea you should remember, it is this…
Would your session alone be worth the price of the conference registration?
Many people go to conferences to learn more, walk away with new ideas / resources, and, what I believe to be the most important — to be inspired. You need to strive to make sure your session accomplishes this.
Conference registrations are an investment, sometimes both a personal and expensive one, so you better be damn sure that your session is worth their while. You need to put in the time to prepare, organize, and rehearse because those at your session deserve it. They will appreciate it.
Also, don’t forget that the people who show up to your session will be there mainly because of the description of your session. They are choosing to spend their time with you. But, that means that you need to deliver what you say you were going to do. So, make sure that you give those in your session time to experience your activities as a learner, discuss / collaborate with others in the session, and provide them with resources they can use immediately when they return to their classroom.
You want people to leave your session thinking, “That was just what I needed.” If you can do that, then you’ve done your job.
But, whatever you do, make sure you are passionate about whatever it is that you present. It will be very apparent that you believe it what you are saying and that’s contagious.
Share your passion! You got this!
P.S. Make sure to silence your phone during your presentation! You looked like a newb at CMC-S!
A Letter To My Colleagues, Friends and Family
|Dear Colleagues, Friends and Family,
For those who attended my session, thank you for spending 90 minutes of your conference with me. CMC-S continues to have incredible sessions and I was honored and beyond flattered that you chose to spend your time with me. I remember feeling speechless minutes before the session began. I hope my session was just what you needed.
For those of you who I am honored to call my friends, thank you for your sound advice and support. Thank you for encouraging me to present and share a passion of mine. Thank you for taking time to meet, e-mail, send numerous text messages and answer phone calls. Thank you for helping me make sense of my ideas, keeping me focused and pushing me to think of ways to make my session better. Each of you have single-handedly made me a better educator and I cannot thank you enough.
For my family, thank you for being some of my biggest cheerleaders. Your love and support does not go unnoticed.
And most importantly, for my wife. Thank you for being absolutely amazing. I would not be the person I am today without you by my side. Thank you for being my biggest inspiration and role model. Thank you for the countless hours helping me prepare for my session. Thank you for helping me cut and fold the cards for the clothesline activities. Thank you for letting me rehearse in front of you. You are the best person I know. I love you so much!
You guys rock!
On a side note, if you attended my session and have a moment, do you mind taking a few minutes to complete the #ObserveMe feedback form, I would great appreciate it. You will help me become better!
For those about to rock, we salute you! \m/ \m/