Almost two years passed between Annie, Max, and Steve’s Ignite! debuts in Indianapolis at NCTM in April, 2011, before I made my debut. I watched their preparation, anxiety and performances.

I was learning.

In December, 2011, I watched the CMC-North Ignite! talks in Asilomar. I continued to watch, listen, and learn. In April, 2012 Annie, Max and Steve again performed at Ignite! in Philadelphia at NCSM.

I was still learning.

On October 29, 2012 I received an email from Karen Cowe and she wrote,

“You knew that one of these days I’d come knocking.” … “This will be the last Ignite! for me, so it would be great to finally get you up there!”

I decided this was my opportunity to use what I had been learning from watching. One way to cope with the pressure was not to tell anyone at the Math Forum what I was planning to do!

On Saturday, December 1, mission accomplished!

The next day I emailed:

“My Ignite! talk was successful according to several accounts. I was in good company. I was #5 out of 9 [Avery, Jennifer, Harold, Bill, me, Lew, Ruth, Scott, and Mike]. There were about 400 in Merrill Hall where it’s held in Asilomar. Even the balcony seating was full. The good news is that I didn’t even think about that. I can’t really say it was fun but I told Karen Cowe I was honored that she asked me and satisfied that I managed to do it without getting too stressed. As Ruth Parker said to me, she can’t remember putting that much prep time into something that only lasts 5 minutes! I agreed!”

“Well, we’ll see what the video looks like first since I have absolutely no memory now of what I said! It really is an amazing experience. You’re sitting there watching the four that are presenting in front of you and each of their 5 minutes “feels” like a real 5 minutes (or maybe even longer). Then it’s your turn and the fourth speaker comes over, hands over the mikes, you get them clipped on, you walk over to the spot, and suddenly you go into time warp and it all speeds up so quickly — it’s really, really weird — it all seemed over in about 5 seconds.”

Now that I have proof that I actually did it: Suzanne Alejandre at CMC-North Ignite I know that I really belong to the Math Forum Ignite! Club.

And, as often happens, I am thinking of connections between my experience of watching and learning and how that might play out in a mathematics classroom. There are students who may take time before being ready to perform. Are they watching? Are they learning? When they’re ready, will they perform? I believe there are and they definitely will. And, as I talk about in my own performance, if we create classroom environments to help unsilence their voices, there is even more of a chance that they will perform!