chickens and eagles quote

The first time I remember someone telling me they thought I was a bitch (well, to my face, anyway) was senior year in high school. To be fair, Nikki said, “Freshman year I thought you were a bitch, but then I just realized you were super shy.” Interesting, because when I was little my brother used to be worried that I would be kidnapped because I would literally talk to anyone. I don’t really know when or what changed that. I was always a little Pollyanna, Susie sunshine. Towards the end of high school my friends were definitely more of the sarcastic vein and I picked it up, too. College was very intimidating and I think snark became a shield.

Over the last few years I’ve been repeatedly accused of having a bad attitude. People at work constantly told me how sarcastic I was, and they used it as a criticism. I think that what they never saw was that deep inside I still was that little pollyanna/ Susie sunshine with a really good heart and a desire just to do right by people. But I think in any social group – including a school staff (especially a tiny one) – I think people are assigned roles. There are the leaders, the softies, the strict ones, the kiss-ups. Well, at some point, my role became the bitch. And hey – like any good actress, I guess I played the role. If people are going to criticize you, you may as well play it up, right? My snarkiness and self-deprecation were my weapons of choice. Hey – way easier to put yourself down or make a snide comment than have someone do it to you, right? Now don’t get me wrong – my students knew I loved them to pieces – this was outside of their realm.

Last summer Mattie rightly called me out. He said that I was so different in person than on twitter. On twitter I will interact with anyone and am full of sass. In person, well, I’m still that super shy girl that Nikki thought was a bitch. The thing is, though, my tweeps have changed me for the better. With them, I feel more like myself – the old me. They make me feel hope again and they make me feel valued. They’ve changed my life. They are helping me break down the barriers that I built up around myself.

So why the diatribe? Today I walked into the faculty room and the music teacher told me that she had been talking to one of the former teachers from the school and was telling her just how much enthusiasm I have for what I do. She said she told her what a nice addition I’ve been to the school and how everyone is so impressed by how I go above and beyond to learn and collaborate with people. (I appreciated this because sometimes when I bring up my online stuff or conferences I worry I give off an air of “look at me, I’m so fancy.”) Later in the day, a sub who retired last year from the school and who has subbed for me twice this year said kind of a similar thing. She said it was so nice to have such a breath of fresh air brought in. I can’t tell you what these comments meant to me. The thing is, I know that in changing environments, I’ve started to get back to the old me. I mean, the shyness hasn’t really gone away in normal circumstances and I’m still intimidated by, well, everyone. But I know that there has been a change in my heart. I mean, I’ll never NOT be sassy and snarky. But I feel like the edge is gone. I notice it just in my daily interactions with the people at Target or a take out place. I dreamed last year of escape. This year there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t woken up happy to go to school. I smile more. It’s a good thing. It’s really interesting the effect that environment has on you, don’t you think? Surely there is a conversation here about which roles do we assign our students, but that’s not for now.

So ya… my #onegoodthing today is having people around me who appreciate me, let me be me, and stop giving me a role I don’t want to be playing.



Pre-NCTM Procrastination

My to do list is so, SO long. Spring Break was a week ago, and while I accomplished a lot, the stack of grading didn’t disappear. Observations were supposed to be complete in March (oops) and now I have to do two. On Monday. And also write sub plans. And having volunteered to help with the MTBoS booth at NCTM has provided a constant stream of worry running through my brain (like – wake up at 2:30 am with 100 questions I can’t answer type of worry). Add to this that allergies were really bad last week, I felt like crap, and I went to bed each day about 8:30 and you have Casey on Saturday night totally on edge. So the only obvious thing to do is to ramble to cyberspace, rather than do anything helpful, right?

I’ve been thinking of little else than NCTM for quite some time. It’s such a great opportunity for professional growth. However, over the last few years that I have attended, it’s become even more about my own personal growth. Simply put, the people I have met through my NCTM experiences (along with TMC and CMC – the 3 of which have pretty good overlap), have changed my life. I remember tweeting during CMC in December that I was so appreciative of the person that my math friends allow me to be. It’s hard to explain.

So as I look towards this week in San Francisco, I can’t help but look back over the 3 years I’ve attended and how my experience has grown and how it has shaped me.

NCTM Denver:

I wanted to go to Denver because Miyam Bialik (aka, Blossom, aka, Amy Farrah-Fowler on BBT) was giving the keynote. I talked to my dad about it and he said he’d send me if my principal wouldn’t. Well, I never even got to see the keynote. Stupid snow almost prevented me from going at all! I spent a long time in the airport watching coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, but I was finally able to get to Denver.

I had a great time. I enjoyed the sessions, I got to see my oldest friend (she lives in Denver), and I got to hear Dan Meyer speak for the first time. I was too shy to go by myself to the Desmos/Mathalicious Trivia night and I didn’t meet anyone during the week, but I had fun, and definitely wanted to go again.

NCTM New Orleans:

I arrived in NOLA and got to my hotel about 5 minutes before the keynote was to begin. I went to the keynote and then got ready for the next day. I wasn’t really sure about the whole twitter thing at the time, but I was definitely following people who I knew were around and who I hoped to meet. On the second night, after the conference was over, I still hadn’t connected with anyone – namely Hedge. I had seen her at the Mathalicious booth, but I was too nervous to even walk over and talk to her and her pals. I did tweet her later to tell her that, so that was kinda lame. I ended up walking around the French Quarter trying to find some dinner. It was not an easy task, let me tell ya. Finally found a pizza by the slice place and followed it up with some Cafe du Monde. I headed back to my hotel and hung out in the lobby for awhile watching the Red Sox.  As I scrolled through twitter, I finally connected with Hedge. She told me to come down to where she and a bunch of others were at a restaurant down the street.  Here I met Hedge, Fawn, Julie, Jessica, and others for the first time. I was kind of in awe and just sat there.

The next night was the annual Mathalicious/Desmos trivia night. I was determined to not miss it this time. Who could have imagined the night that was before me. I basically ended up following Hedge around like a puppy dog all night. But oh man – the people I met! It was more than I could wrap my little brain around. We traipsed around from spot to spot, and each had all kinds of interesting people. It was the first time I felt like maybe I could be part of the whole MTBoS world.

NCTM Boston:

Having gone to TMC and meeting the best people I know and being headed to my second home, I could not have been more excited for Boston. Add to that that I was at one of the lowest times of my life, and I knew NCTM would be just what I needed. Was it ever.Every single detail was awesome. I met more awesome people, connected with lots of twitter people, saw lots of people from TMC – it was amazing. I felt like a new person. When I posted pics to Facebook, my friends repeatedly commented that they’d never seen me so happy. I was in the midst of yuckiness at school and I’d been sick for more than a month, yet I truly found my happiness. Meeting people from MSMathChat like Brooke and Adrienne, getting to walk the freedom trail with Hedge and the SoCal crew (Andrew, Chris, Robert) among others, connecting with Kathy, who has since become such  a dear friend (I even gave up watching a Patriots play-off game to go to her baby shower. That’s love) just to name a few highlights, were what brought me back to life. Every opportunity I had, I was so thankful to be included. I had a personal goal I’d been thinking about – a conversation I wanted to have – and it was scary. I didn’t exactly follow through on it, but came close, and I was proud of myself for not letting it totally slip away (sorry to be vague, but honestly, if you’re reading this, you probably already know). I never wanted to leave. I was teary on the plane ride home for pretty much the entire cross country trip because I knew that the kind of happiness I felt being with my math people would be put on hold until July and TMC. I feared what I was headed back to at school. But mostly, I was just so happy for the time I’d had.


So now…. I have been obsessing about SF for a long time. I am SO excited. I am also anxious. I am afraid that nothing can live up to last year. I have really come out of my shell when with this crowd, but I still have that ever-present anxiety of being “left out” or not having someone to hang out with at the social events or to have dinner with (which is completely ridiculous, I know). I’m worried that the MTBoS Booth won’t live up to the awesomeness of last year and I’m afraid I won’t get time with all the people I want to spend time with. The company I love has asked me to spend some time at their booth, and I feel so honored to do so. So between 2 booths and all the sessions – yikes! I’ve been trying to make my schedule to allow for plenty of helping, but also get the sessions I want. I go back and forth between really wanting to go to sessions and really just wanting to hang out in the booths. I don’t know what the right balance is for me. I’m trying to be very conscious of allowing each experience to be its own, but I really am scared that I will keep comparing everything to Boston and I desperately don’t want to end the week disappointed if it isn’t just as great.

So – I can’t wait to see you, my friends. Help me stay present and enjoy my time, won’t you?