I just finished NCTM and am reflecting on the experience in the airport. I have three specific observations, an anecdote, and a possible connection on my mind.
- At the Desmos trivia night, one trivia category asked what different acronyms stand for. One clue was MTBoS. A number of tables had a blank line for the answer to that question.
- One woman told me, very insistently, that MTBoS is a Twitter handle that five people have control of
- A search for #mtbos and math twitter blogosphere, and #mtbos and mathtwitterblogosphere turns up only about a tweet per month explaining the meaning of the hashtag
I wrote this post after doing some data collection two years ago suggesting there are vastly more lurkers — teachers aware of people and ideas in the MTBoS — than active participants in the community. I believe that’s still true. It seems like some ideas, like Estimation 180, have reached a pretty significant level of saturation among attendees of the conference.
At the same time, and this is completely subjective, the MTBoS community felt less visible at NCTM than my last time at the annual meeting two years ago. It felt like fewer presentations were mentioning the community, there were fewer people wearing the MTBoS ribbon on their name tags, and in general less buzz around the MTBoS and more buzz about specific speakers or events that I would formerly have associated more closely with the community, like the Mathalicious happy hour and Shadowcon.
I very often teach a lesson and realize at some point that, despite my efforts, students don’t actually know the purpose of the lesson or how it fits with the broader trajectory of our class. I wonder to what extent a similar thing is happening with the way new people learn, or don’t learn, about the MTBoS. It seems like the community is being explained to newcomers at a far slower rate than would be necessary for teachers arriving to Twitter or other sites to adequately understand what the MTBoS is or wants to be.
I notice that the popularity of the specific projects that the MTBoS has created seem to only increase in visibility and popularity. I wonder what impact that will have on the future of the community that calls itself the MTBoS.