Park City Mathematics Institute
High School Teacher Program
Participant Reflections on PCMI: 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."

Three weeks at the Park City Mathematics Institute will be a highlight of your mathematics development. If not the most valuable educational experience you will ever have, it will certainly be the most unique. Where else can you spend three weeks in a beautiful setting, with approximately 300 people who love mathematics and mathematics education and are committed to making it better? The high school teachers that participate in PCMI will meet other teachers and share experiences but will also have the opportunity to meet researchers in mathematics, graduate and undergraduate students, graduate and undergraduate faculty, and mathematics education researchers. With this unique blend of participants, wonderful opportunities for interaction occur. A teacher might have lunch with a researcher working on a new area of mathematics that is willing to share their passion. They might meet a graduate student that wants to share ideas about mathematics learning while doing origami. They might go to the local rodeo with an international educator, or listen to an educational researcher leading a discussion of new findings on the best ways to learn. The blending of the communities makes this the most stimulating experience possible.

A typical week at PCMI for a teacher includes five two-hour sessions of mathematics designed to strengthen mathematical knowledge and five one-hour sessions of “Reflection on Practice” where the teachers look at what research is telling us about learning. Four days of small group work on a particular topic of interest where the group designs lessons or materials to share with colleagues. In addition about twice a week a one-hour cross-program is available for all participants. These programs vary from year to year but always include leading figures in the mathematics and mathematics education worlds. In the late afternoon or evening, programs are added in response to the interests and needs of the participants. They might include origami, model building, problem solving sessions, and/or private sessions with well known mathematicians. There are always more interesting opportunities than we have time to include in the three weeks.

All work and no play leads to very tired mathematicians, so on weekends and Wednesday afternoons participants enjoy the area by doing such things as biking or hiking the trails or mountains, riding the mountain slide, visiting the Olympic park, or eating in the many available fine restaurants. Lunch and breakfast are provided on weekdays. Participants may cook evening meals in their rooms or there is always a group ready to try some new dining establishment. A quick hop on the free bus gets you into historic downtown Park City for the evening meal or an after-dinner ice cream. A nice mile walk back can be enjoyed. The gym is available for swimming and working off those extra calories.

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IAS/Park City Mathematics Institute is an outreach program of the Institute for Advanced Study, 1 Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
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With generous support from Robert and Lynn Johnston