Since its inception in 2015 as a rogue addition to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Boston, ShadowCon has provided teachers, teacher leaders, and academics with inspiration and motivation through the intriguing and passionate calls to action presented by educators of every stripe.


Michael Pershan at ShadowCon15

In the inaugural event, Laila Nur, Tracy Zager, Elham Kazemi, Kristin Gray, Michael Pershan, and Christopher Danielson presented their calls to action that spanned from giving the right kind of hints to solve math problems to using your sense of humor to create a safe and enjoyable space for your students in math class.

The talk that I gravitated towards in 2015 was Tracy Zager’s Breaking the Cycle. Zager, author of Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had, contrasts how elementary school teachers describe mathematics with the descriptions of mathematicians. Spoiler alert: the mathematicians’ descriptions are drastically more positive. I was inspired to share word clouds Zager created with my colleagues after I asked them about their own opinions of mathematics. I also felt motivated to engage with Tracy and other educators around the country on the ShadowCon website.


Brian Bushart and me at ShadowCon16

The next year, at the 2016 NCTM Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco, I was asked to be a live tweeter for Brian Bushart‘s fantastic #ShadowCon16 talk called, Make Your Own Kind of Music. The presence of live tweeters is an important innovation established by ShadowCon hosts Dan Meyer, Mike Flynn, and Zak Champagne in order to provide live access to as many people as possible, even those who are not in attendance but who can witness the event live on twitter.


ShadowCon18 speakers and hosts from left to right: Mike Flynn, Me, Nanette Johnson, Lauren Lamb, Dan Meyer, Javier Garcia, Zak Champagne

This year, at the 2018 NCTM Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington DC, I had the privilege to be invited to speak at #ShadowCon18! Instead of reading a description of my talk entitled, “Presume Competence: Don’t Leave Your Expectations At the Door, Raise Them!” Watch it for yourself!

Go ahead, I’ll wait…


Thanks for coming back! Now that you’ve watched my talk you’re probably so ready to presume the competence of your students, but you may be wondering what to do next.

ShadowCon has you covered!

This is how ShadowCon is unlike any other conference experience. Each speaker from this year’s event will be continuing the conversation via email to delve deeper on the subject of their talk. Go to bit.ly/shadowcon18 to signup for one of these #ShadowCon18 email threads. The speakers will be sending discussion prompts, activities, and reflections to each email thread over the next month or so.

brian shadowcon18




1 thought on “#ShadowCon18

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