Park City Mathematics Institute
Teacher Leadership Program
Participant Reflections on PCMI

[2019]  [2014]  [2012]  [2010]  [2007]  [2004


Mary Velez: I just finished an application that included this prompt:
4c. Using a professional development experience cited in your résumé, describe how your participation in this activity has improved your teaching and enhanced your students’ learning.
and I thought you would enjoy reading my response!
Attending the Park City Math Institute (PCMI) was the most significant professional development experience of my life. The greatest impact was that it made me brave. In turn, I now turn out courageous students.

PCMI is a 3-week program incorporating learning and doing mathematics, analyzing and reflecting on classroom practice, and becoming a resource to colleagues and the profession. Each day begins with Morning Math where we work in small groups on problem sets. Not having been a math major the topics in both years I attended were almost completely new. I experienced first-hand how many of my students feel every day: inadequate. I was not the first to understand, the fastest one done, or the one leading the way with an innovative idea. Prior to PCMI I thought I connected with the emotional needs of my students well. I know I said the right words. After PCMI I was more empathetic and compassionate. I communed with my students and shared my experience. PCMI validated support in my students' eyes.

Each day had 2 hours to reflect on practice. In addition to a curriculum, we had professional speakers. This is where I learned about the Thinking Classroom. In those hours we learned different techniques for analyzing our practice, were offered time to interact with one another to identify weaknesses and resolutions, and were placed in the seat of learner so we could experience the impact of the changes we wanted to implement. Unlike conferences where one learns about techniques but is left to fine-tune and implement alone, PCMI afforded me the opportunity to practice, fail, and revise so I could implement with a degree of expertise immediately and was comfortable enough to maintain my commitment to it.

We also had working groups where we developed PD for other educators. Not only did I learn about writing and implementing sound PD, but I established professional friendships who are resources for me today. Those connections led to a variety of experiences, but also gave me a network of excellence where I turn for professional advice.

PCMI sent me back more confident, sensitive, and with a degree of expertise I needed to move to the next level in my craft. The pedagogy I learned was cutting-edge and transformed my classroom into a chatty, student-centered community of mathematicians. I am forever changed. Everything in my narrative is a result of PCMI.

Mary Velez: PCMI TLP participant 2017 & 2016


Monica Tienda: When I got home from PCMI late July 2014, I was sad. It had been THE most amazing three weeks, and for it to end devasted me to some extent. I had brought along a co-worker; reconnected with my besties; and had also made some incredible new friendships. We shared this intense and intimate Park City experience; bonded over math and pedagogy and sushi (Flying Sumo); and when it was over, I wasn't prepared for the sense of loss I felt.

I needed to do something to channel these feelings and work through them. So I began compiling pictures, mostly my own, but also from friends who posted on social media. I put them all into a digital scrapbook, and when it was over, I felt... relief. Not only did I feel happier, but I also had this nifty tangible reminder of all the of awesomeness PCMI had to offer.

Monica Tienda's 2014 Photos [PDF] [PPTX]

Monica Tienda

Jason Lang: "To get a sense of the PCMI Experience, read my commentaries and view photos from PCMI 2012!"
Game Night
Jason Receives Number Cookies
PCMI Director's Hike with Dick Hain

Jason Lang


Jet Warr

Jet Warr: "My story is about a corny connection that I made when I heard that Dr. John Tate was here attending PCMI. In the recesses of my mind I remembered I had seen a reference to him in a book and that it was a humorous one. I wanted to find it. When I was visiting with my son at home, I told him about it and he went through our bookshelf. We found our copy of the book A Beautiful Mind. I looked in the index and it listed John Tate. On page 239 in the book there was a reference to him wearing a costume at a party. It took me three days to work up enough nerve to take the book with me into the auditorium during the Film Festival Cross Program. Andrew cheered me on! I went up to Dr. Tate and asked him if I could have a minute of his time. I showed him page 239 in the book where his first name is mentioned and he said, 'Oh, for heaven's sakes.' and then he told me 'It was true.' I asked him, 'Would you mind signing my book for me?' Much to my surprise he wrote, 'It's true. John T. Tate.' right below the passage that mentions him."

Joyce Frost: "Peg's daughter described it as "Math Nerd Camp" to which Peg corrected her and said, "Oh, no, it's Super Math Nerd Camp." I'm not sure about the nerd part, but I would definitely call it "Super Math Camp" for teachers. It is the most incredible opportunity to meet and share experiences with some of the most amazing math teachers from all over the country. It is a high energy, activity packed three weeks of great math to stretch us as mathematicians, ways to improve our teaching through example, dialogue, research, and suggestions from others, and an incredible opportunity to experience the excitement of creating publishable materials to share with teachers who check out the PCMI website. PCMI is an opportunity to meet people from all aspects of mathematics and mathematics education. And all of this is done in a picturesque, supportive environment."

Peg Cagle, Johnny Lott, Joyce Frost


Troy Jones and Steve Phelps

Steve Phelps: "So the three weeks at PCMI...I made new friends, met new people, did a bunch of math, learned a lot of math, saw places I might never have had the chance to see, talked and shared ideas with other teachers, teacher educators, mathematicians and math students. It did give my math teaching a kick-start, especially in the areas of technology. All in all, I experienced three weeks that I still can't believe I got to experience...PCMI really was (and I guess still is) the single most significant "math event" I have had professionally." . . . read more

Rey Jope: If Disneyland is "the happiest place on earth," then here at PCMI, I've found my professional Disneyland! God bless you all!

View more photos of the Combinatorics Working Group moving together.

Rey's working group trying
a kinesthetic exercise

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