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Our expert talks: I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Author: Scolab | Publish on April 26, 2016

Our expert tells us about the 96th NCTM Annual Meeting!

The 96th National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting , held in San Francisco from April 13 to 16, attracted more than 9000 math teachers. Our Math specialist, Sunil Singh was among the many attendees at this major Math education event. He tells us about his experience and the highlights of the conference. He also shares some great news with us…

Almost 50 years ago, San Francisco was home to the “Summer of Love”–a magical moment when hope and change met in the desire to transform how we communicated with each other.

Returning to San Francisco after a 17 year absence, those same sentiments about hope and change in math education were resonating themes at the 96h Annual NCTM Conference. Even after the first day of the conference, I knew my work was cut out for me in terms of writing a synopsis that captured the energy and spirit of 9000 math teachers in beautiful San Francisco!

You see, for every amazing workshop or keynote that you attend, there are so many more that you miss. It’s part of the bittersweet truth of an NCTM conference–there are only so many hours in the day and so many people you can meet and interact with. That is why my days at NCTM started at 8 am and ended well past 8 pm everyday. Keynote speeches, workshops, impromptu meetups in the Networking Lounge, walking conversations, coffee discussions and lingering dinner dialogues all seamlessly were woven into my full days at NCTM.

Nothing sums all of that up more than the sentiment “People Learning Math Together”. The learning of math is a lifelong endeavor. Having more people involved does not expedite that journey–it only makes it richer.

I will share some of my highlights. For two months I had been organizing this dinner during the week of NCTM with some of the brightest luminaries in mathematics–James Tanton (Global Math Project), Matthew Beyranevand (Math With Matthew tv show), Chris Brownwell (AIMS), Sam Vandervelde (Director of The Proof School), Daniel Torres-Rangel(Google), Matt Haber (California District Leader) and Scott Baldridge (Eureka Math). The dinner was a fabulously fluid exchange of creative and ambitious ideas in math education, and solidified Buzzmath’s position as being a vibrant partner in the The Global Math Project for 2017. Our contribution will be so central to the success of this project that James Tanton has selected me as one of the Lead Ambassadors for Global Math! I am truly humbled and honored.

One of the wonderful spinoffs from the dinner was the series of podcasts Matthew Beyranevand organized and conducted out of his hotel room (all the podcasts will be available soon).

The fruits of attending a conference as important as the NCTM are vast, and the connections that we make go a long way in developing the best ideas and tools in learning mathematics here at Buzzmath. Some of these will be seen almost immediately in terms of a new website, while others will develop into long-term projects in the coming months and years.

The energy of the conference at the Moscone Convention Centre was ubiquitous and contagious –from the intimate Cove sessions to the large keynotes. On Friday evening, in the dwindling hours of the conference, ShadowCon took the unofficial role of closing out the mathematical love-in. Robert Kaplinsky’s opening address, already riveting and inspiring, was closed out by an unforgettable moment of frankness. He opened up to the large audience that his mother abandoned him at the age of 14, and for the next four years, he spent all his time between shelters and foster homes. The audience was visibly moved by his heart-wrenching story.

This is how I want to remember NCTM and this is how I want all of you to envision NCTM–that mathematics, above all, is a human endeavor; while it is sometimes filled with struggle and obstacles, it can be an uplifting experience when we share and communicate our stories with unflinching passion and honesty.

Peace, Love and Math!

Sunil Singh,
Math Specialist and Buzzmath expert

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