Shadow Con

Back in April, I had the honor of speaking at Shadow Con, a teacher-led mini conference held after hours at NCTM in Boston. The three organizers, Zak Champagne, Dan Meyer, and Mike Flynn, spent quite a bit of time re-imagining conferences, thinking about how they could have bigger, more lasting impact on our teaching. They also thought about how we could use technology to open conversations between and among speakers and session attendees. Speakers need feedback to make their ideas better. Attendees would benefit by having a specific charge–something to go home and do that would “extend our learning” beyond the conference, as Kristin Gray put it in her Teaching Channel blog about Shadow Con.

Dan, Mike, and Zak chose six speakers and asked each of us to give a short, provocative talk about a topic of our own choosing. The only requirement was that we each end with a Call to Action–a specific assignment for people to try. They gave each of us a webpage that would serve as a forum for discussion, feedback, sharing of ideas, criticism, and collaboration. They assigned a live-tweeter to each of us. Lucky me, I was tweeted by my hero, Fawn Nguyen. And then they cut us loose.

It was great fun. This storify from Taylor Williams will give you a sense of the energy in the house.

Beyond that night and our presentations, though, I hope Shadow Con was a provocative call to action for conference organizers, presenters, and attendees. We need to talk, and think, and learn, and grow more than once a year. That’s the big idea.

So, here’s my talk:

If you choose to take up my Call to Action, please join in the conversation about it at my Shadow Con page. And while you’re there, check out the other great talks from Elham KazemiLaila NurKristin GrayChristopher Danielson, and Michael Pershan.

I was in truly great company.

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4 thoughts on “Shadow Con

  1. Hi Tracy! I had the pleasure of attending my first NCTM conference this year in Boston and was fortunate enough to find out about ShadowCon in time to get to be there in person. The energy in that room was incredible and it was definitely one of the highlights of the week for me! As a math coach working in Nova Scotia (Canada) elementary schools, I see examples of teacher math anxiety far too often and I appreciate your observations and suggestions. We will be having our annual Math Teacher Conference here in Ocotober and I know that many of our teachers would benefit from hearing the key points of the message and strategies you offered. I’m assuming that you’d be okay with bits of your presentation being shared in the spirit of moving forward with your call to action, right? I will be sure to mention that your book is coming out soon and I will add the feedback we get from the session to your ShadowCon page. : )

    1. Hi Jen,
      That sounds fantastic. You are welcome to use this video in any way you like. We put these talks out into the world because we were hoping people would take them and make them better by contextualizing and critiquing and using them in schools. So have fun! I’m thrilled you’ll keep me posted.

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