Finding good PD is tough. I'm about to finish up my fourth year of teaching, and I've been to what feels like hundreds of sessions of professional development. As a teacher, we always have a million things on the go, so I hate wasting my time with PD that, quite frankly, sucks. It sucks even more when its forced upon us.

For example, yesterday I went to the second part of a workshop on anxiety, organized and forced upon us by our administrative team. With it being after school on a short day, right before an actual four-day weekend, nobody wanted to be there (as was obvious with about 1/3 of the staff present), and I was so bored that I was playing logic games on my phone (if you've never played LineSweeper, give it a go!). Now, I tried to have a good attitude, especially since I personally deal with anxiety and have had many panic attacks. I attempted to give my full attention. But it was all research. The presenter had a PPT with text so small, even with my glasses I couldn't read it. They kept making reference to these psychologists, but then wouldn't talk about what their research found. I felt like I should have brought a pile of marking, like many of the other teachers in the room.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am often a lot more attentive, and perhaps even more optimistic. Maybe it was the "let-me-out-of-here-so-I-can-start-my-long-weekend" syndrome (although I stayed at the school until 7pm, getting work done. But why is it so hard to make a workshop/session/whatever more interesting? Can it even be done?

Well, maybe because I'm a newer teacher and I know I still have a lot to learn, I am always looking for PD that might be relevant to me. I've gone to many summer PD sessions. I've paid hundreds of dollars for registrations and even for flights so that I could hopefully learn something that would help me in the classroom. I've gone to quite a few math conferences and feel like I've got a good list going of PD that is worth your time (and that I'll return to). Here are my top three, in no particular order:

__NCTM Annual Conference__
I went to the

NCTM Annual Conference for the first time just this year. Honestly, I was mostly drawn to it because it was in San Francisco. Then I found out Dan Meyer would be there, and he's my math superhero... I've listened to him speak on three separate occasions, have had brief Twitter conversations with him, and have finally taken a selfie with this man who can divide by zero. So really, I initially went so that I could be a fangirl in San Fran.

So I flew to San Fran with a colleague and knew I wouldn't see Dan until Saturday. Which meant I had to fill up my time and decided to go to some sessions. Wowza! There were literally hundreds of sessions to choose from; I often had three options for each time slot, just in case a session was full or had to be cancelled.

I was honestly so overwhelmed by all the great minds coming together from all over the world to celebrate math. NCTM was definitely one of my favourite conferences. I've heard the smaller NCTM conferences aren't as worthwhile, but I need to experience one on my own before commenting further.

For the price of the conference registration and membership and for the price of round-trip flights, and also factoring in the costs of accommodations (we shared a condo that just so happened to be right across the street from a fundraiser with Hilary Clinton, hosted by George Clooney), I would do this all again in a heartbeat. It was definitely worth the money, especially based on location (we took the time to do all the tourist-y things, too). I know I'll go again. I even applied to present at next year's conference!

If you want to read more about the NCTM conference, I wrote another post for the Saskatchewan Math Teachers' Society,

here (where you can also check out that selfie with Dan Meyer).

__SMTS SUM Conference__
My first ever math conference was the

SUM Conference, put on by the Saskatchewan Math Teachers' Society (SMTS). This was when I first got to listen to Dan Meyer. I had already been familiar with his 3-Acts lessons and his interesting thinking. Listening to him really inspired me to change how I teach, even though I had only been teaching for a year. Check out his blog

here and his bank of resources

here.

I also had the opportunity to listen to Marian Small. Almost every teacher has heard this name before and almost automatically thinks she is amazing. However, in going to her session, I felt like she was talking down to us and I remember leaving this session feeling angry. Oh well. Can't win them all!

There were also many breakout sessions and I got to listen to the great ideas and collect resources from teachers all across Canada. Yes, that's right. Canada. There were lots of wonderful presenters, as they were all chosen by a committee of volunteer teachers.

After that great experience within my own province, I started to investigate how I could become involved with the SMTS. I co-run the math club at our school, so we bring students to the math challenges put on by SMTS. I went to a science conference last year because I heard that SMTS was involved in the planning. They offer a lot of great opportunities within the province. Finally, I was invited to be a Director of the SMTS and am now involved in the planning of the SUM Conference, as well as helping put together the monthly periodical, called The Vinculum.

__Waterloo Math Teachers' Conference__
Two summers ago, I signed up for a nominal fee of $150 and paid for a flight to come back home to Ontario, but so that I could attend the

Waterloo Math Teachers' Conference (I also used this opportunity to meet up with my family after the conference). This is by far the best bang for your buck, as $150 covered all meals, accommodation, and workshops. Ian VanderBurgh is a problem-solving mastermind and his session for middle school problem solving was outstanding! I walked away with a bank of problems that I could immediately use in class. I did quite a bit of thinking at this conference, which is always nice. Getting to play with math instead of just listening was a nice change of pace, especially at the end of August.

People from all around the world come to this conference, and it's clear why. The University of Waterloo is well-known for their math and computer science programs, but also for the opportunities they provide for students (it seems like almost every math contest comes from UWaterloo!). The math that's offered is fun for students while also being challenging. But it's also fun and challenging for teachers!

I had such a great time, and I work so much with the resources from the CEMC (great materials for our math club and math contests, but also for enrichment). I brought the Canadian Team Math Challenge (CTMC) to Saskatchewan and was asked by UWaterloo to host the CTMC this past April for all schools in Saskatoon. I'm also heading back to this conference this summer, and am bringing two colleagues with me.

__Some other conferences I want to check out:__
- Anja S. Greer Conference on Mathematics and Technology (link)
- Exeter Mathematics Institute (link)
- OAME Annual Conference (link) - I volunteered in 2011 in Windsor, but I need to attend!
- Twitter Math Camp (link) - I'm heading to this in July!!
- AMTE Annual Conference (link)

If you have any suggestions for conferences or any feedback, I'd love to hear it!