On NCTM and the #MTBoS

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.

Observations:

  • 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

Anecdote:

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.

Connection:

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.

27 thoughts on “On NCTM and the #MTBoS

  1. @HeatherSugrue

    Interesting reflection – and I would agree with your statement that two years in Boston, #MTBoS was much more visible in a fun way. Wasn’t there a treasure hunt or something? How do we spread the word? Do those who are on pick someone new as their buddy? Tweet things their way, follow up, etc.? I also felt that although many known names on #MTBoS have generated some cool books/projects/etc, it isn’t just about those folks. I did hear someone at the MTBoS booth say something about using that hashtag when they wanted to broadcast something more widely. Perhaps the goal, even if it’s just for the next few months, is to be generous with using the hashtag so that the new recruits can see more coolness.

    Reply
    1. Linda Gojak

      Is it about being cool? Is it about being part of “the in-crowd”? Is the MTBoS perceived as being the latest “clique”? Even from the tone (which I believe is unintentional) is it that NCTM is still perceived as the “old guard” and not welcoming? I believe that NCTM has reached out, if that is the right term, by now having the Math Forum folks as part of their staff and activity. If anyone has helped to bring the potential of Twitter and Blogging in mathematics education in the NCTM community it is the Math Forum “gang.” Time to be welcoming in both directions! And thanks to all of you who post so many awesome and thoughtful ideas!

      Reply
      1. dkane47 Post author

        This is interesting. Here’s a potential conflict:

        Today, I have an enormous amount of respect for NCTM. I know many people who are involved at various levels, I know how hard everyone at NCTM is working to do great things for math education, and as I have learned more about NCTM I have learned about the very real inertia of being a large institutions with different sometimes conflicting constituent groups. Despite this NCTM has changed a great deal in the last few years and has done a world of good for my practice in the classroom.

        At the same time, if you had asked me three years ago at my first NCTM conference I would have seen the organization as static, behind the times, and largely irrelevant to me. I didn’t have the perspective to see the whole picture.

        I think it’s on the MTBoS community to make sure the great stuff from NCTM is broadcasted far and wide. That’s what we do with other ideas and resources. I don’t know how much power we have, but there is plenty of evidence that participation in the MTBoS makes people more likely to get involved with NCTM. Let’s make that synergy happen!

        Reply
  2. herbertmath

    Interesting. I don’t know that I would have known what #MTBoS was unless you had hyped it to me at PCMI. You told me about MTBoS before I was on twitter, and I joined twitter specifically to participate in the MTBoS community. I’m not sure what my experience would have been had I stumbled across the hashtag on my own.

    I do have a similar connection with different twitter chats that I’ve seen. How exactly does that work? Do people just keep their twitter open to the chat’s hashtag? If a question is posed as Q1, do you start your answer with A1 and include the chat’s hashtag? That’s what it seems like, but I haven’t participated in any because I’m unclear on the logistics.

    Reply
    1. dkane47 Post author

      Good question on Twitter chats, I think my understanding is just based on what I’ve seen as I don’t participate very often. But yea, my impression is — answer with A# and the hashtag and then people will be able to see what you say (hashtag) and know what you are referring to (A#).

      Reply
  3. Michael Pershan

    This is obviously a small observation, but one of my favorite hobbies is building elaborate theoretical explanations for small observations.

    The observation is that MTBoS had less of a presence at NCTM this year. To play this game, let’s assume that this is true. Why might it be?

    The first category of explanations assume that the MTBoS is just as strong but — for one reason or another — we were more poorly represented at NCTM. This is possible and I would love to hear theories along these lines.

    The second category assumes that the reduced presence at NCTM reflects a weakened MTBoS. And why would that be? Especially if, as you note, some ideas and people were more prevalent at the conference?

    Could it be that these two observations are connected?

    I’ve started wondering if being in the MTBoS is sort of like being a fan. To be in the MTBoS means that you love Three Acts, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Talking Math With Your Kids, Estimation 180, Problem-Based Stuff, Max Ray-Riek, Tracy Zager, Desmos or something.

    [Is this a good time to remind you that I’m making stuff up and have no reason to believe ANY of this with much confidence? I think it is.]

    In the past two years, a lot of the things that the MTBoS were early fans of [see prev paragraph] have gone mainstream in math edu. Publishers and organizations have invited the people/ideals that MTBoS were fans of into the mainstream. If you loved a MTBoS person/idea in 2015, there’s a decent chance that your person/idea has gone more mainstream in 2017.

    [Is this even true? I’ll keep typing but I don’t know…]

    So, where does that leave MTBoS going forward?

    It seems possible to me that MTBoS could continue functioning as a playspace for people/ideas headed towards the mainstream of math edu. That’s a vision of the MTBoS as a sort of R&D department for Stenhouse, Desmos, Illustrative Mathematics, NCTM, Heinemann and the PD circuit. This sounds fine to me and isn’t at all a doomsday scenario.

    It also seems possible to me that the mainstream will become saturated with fresh talent and the people/ideas who the MTBoS are fans of in 2017 are largely those at the center of 2027. That, I think, would be a disappointing direction for MTBoS to head towards.

    There seems to me a third way for the MTBoS to go. Being part of MTBoS might primarily be fandom (a very, very challengeable framework) but it’s also about several other ways of communally participating. I’m thinking of going to TMC, attending GMD, participating in #elemmathchat. (As opposed to “liking WODB” which is an example of what I’ve been calling fandom in this comment.)

    [Is that all I mean by fandom? That if every form of communal participation has a verb, that a primary verb of MTBoS is “liking”?]

    A third way forward for MTBoS is to double-down on those other forms of participation, the ones that aren’t part of liking stuff that could be headed to the mainstream. This might include…

    * planning more in-person conferences
    * MTBoS math circles, like the ePCMI table
    * finding online forums for discussion that — unlike Twitter — don’t elevate popular people and ideas
    * participating in more collaborative projects

    …or not!

    It will be very interesting to see where things go from here, that’s for sure.

    Reply
    1. Annie Perkins

      I would humbly suggest that learning how to navigate #mtbos is tough. Though I now know it isn’t, for new people, it can feel like a secret club whose handshake you need to know to participate. I’ve been a fairly active participant for about a year now, and I’m still not sure exactly how to follow and participate in conversations like #elemchat or how to use mtbos to effectively and quickly find ideas for lessons. I know this has been said before, but it’s nerve-wracking to insert yourself into a conversation with a “popular” someone. And with the growing number of popular someones, that makes all conversations a potential mine-field. What if you say the wrong thing and everyone hates you?

      Inviting and welcoming people in-person is helpful, but occasionally, when I’ve done that, colleagues have said it’s too much work to figure out.

      Some of this celebrity fearing might just be the growing SIZE of MTBoS. Several years ago, it was mostly that tall guy everyone was nervous around. Now, as you so nicely lay out Michael, there’s, “Three Acts, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Talking Math With Your Kids, Estimation 180, Problem-Based Stuff, Max Ray-Riek, Tracy Zager, Desmos or something.” to be nervous around, too.

      (Yes, yes, I get that all this has been said before, but its still a factor, folks.)

      Putting a request for help out to mtbos requires confidence and vulnerability- particularly if you expect your personal math teaching heroes to see what you may perceive as your flaws. As there are more and more of those heroes out there, the pressure goes up. I consider myself a pretty confident person, and yet there are huge questions I personally have that I am still working the courage up to ask because I fear judgment- even after I’ve been enthusiastically empowered by people I respect to share those questions.

      None of this is new, I get it. It is but a long way of me suggesting that we need to actively, enthusiastically, and continually hype an overly welcoming MTBoS. I’ve seen many out there emphatically welcoming folks and their ideas, which is excellent. Keep that going and make that go further, I cheer.

      We also need to demystify hashtags. It was MONTHS before I figured out that #tmwyk was not some weird shortening of “teamwork”. Maybe “teamwyrk” I thought? I totally get where #becomingmath comes from, but I probably wouldn’t if Tracy’s book weren’t quickly becoming my math teaching bible. If you’re regularly using a hashtag, then perhaps we should regularly be sending out explanatory tweets and not expecting folks to discern it. Maybe I’m an idiot and everyone understands these things intuitively, but my guess is that if I don’t know what they mean, there’s probably at least one other person out there who’s in my boat.

      Reply
    2. Dan Anderson (@dandersod)

      A small note that may or may not play in to your theory Michael: A significant number of #mtbos members from 2013 are no longer classroom teacher, leaving for other jobs, coaching, publishers, etc.
      I just took a quick gander at the 2013 TMC presenters. About 3/4 of them were in the classroom, but only about 1/2 of them are now classroom teachers.

      Reply
  4. Dan Meyer

    Annie:

    “I would humbly suggest that learning how to navigate #mtbos is tough.”

    No way I’ll argue, only add that Twitter is inhospitable to /all/ new users, not just new teacher users (http://bit.ly/2oVyWDX). The only other environment that requires this much cryptic notation and obscure conventions just to survive is … math class, right?

    There are issues here that we may not be able to #ExploreMTBoS our way out of, is what I’m suggesting.

    Michael:

    “It also seems possible to me that the mainstream will become saturated with fresh talent and the people/ideas who the MTBoS are fans of in 2017 are largely those at the center of 2027. That, I think, would be a disappointing direction for MTBoS to head towards.”

    The #MTBoS has never had better representation on a program committee than this year. I have a hard time seeing that as anything but a benefit to the #MTBoSers (whose abilities may have gone entirely noticed and undeveloped in a previous decade) and to NCTM (who needs as much grassroots energy and as many ideas as it can get). Help me understand your pessimism.

    Reply
    1. Michael Pershan

      I am definitely not pessimistic. It’s definitely true that #MTBoSers are quickly making a difference in NCTM and at other places.

      I owe an explanation of my concern, and I’ll give it. I’m working this out as I’m going, though, so definitely keep pushing me as long as seems reasonable.

      Say there’s a town with a Tennis Club. It’s big, fancy, and sort of stuffed-up and stuck in its ways. Everybody thinks the club is sort of going in the wrong direction. People idly talk about what they’d do with the Tennis Club if they were in charge.

      A few non-club members start meeting on weekends to play tennis is the park. The park courts are in OK-not-great shape, but nobody really cares. It’s fun.

      Soon the non-club members start swapping tips and the members become non-tennis friends. They start training kids from the neighborhood, and there’s a real positive scene emerging. The park is booming and the park hangout is growing. People love tennis, after all, and all sort of hate the Tennis Club.

      Tennis Club sees what’s happening and they’re like, woah, this is what we’ve needed! Let’s get some of this park energy into Tennis Club! They invite a few prominent park members into the Tennis Club planning group. The Tennis Club wants to know: how do we get some of this awesome park energy into our club?

      [This is really not such a weird phenomenon, and probably doesn’t require a convoluted tennis analogy. This is how the corporate world works, no? Small exciting company produces talent that gets gobbled up by big corporate world. Small exciting company is acquired by larger company.]

      Long story short, this is great. But what’s going to happen to the park club?

      Answer: who knows? A lot of things could happen.

      But one thing that probably can’t happen, if the exciting talent and innovations of the park group are directed away from the park, is the deep development of the park community. After all, as soon as someone becomes a park leader they become a Tennis Club member and that’s that. Best case scenario: the park club becomes a de facto wing of the Tennis Club.

      I think there’s an alternative thing that the Tennis Club could do that wouldn’t risk messing with the park community: borrow the ideas, but not the people of the park group. I mean, don’t like reject the park community leaders if they’re interested in the Tennis Club, that would be dumb. But it seems clear to me that the park community needs leaders, and there’s only so much you can expect the park community to develop if it’s talent is constantly redirected toward other concerns.

      To take this out of metaphor, I think that NCTM should be in the business of (a) paying attention to MTBoS and (b) supporting MTBoS but without (c) gobbling the talent. MTBoS is never going to be a big, mega competitor with NCTM. We’re a fringer group. But it’s important that the people who care about the community work to develop the community.

      There are sometimes people who ask, is MTBoS too self-centered? At the moment this is an academic question, as more than anything else we are merging with other institutions. We invented a TMC, we invented a GMD. I don’t see much ambition to figure out much else for the community at the moment.

      I’m not saying that this is bad, but it does make me nervous about the ability of MTBoS to grow like a neighborhood grows. Nervous, but not pessimistic.

      Reply
    2. Annie Perkins

      Let me know if I’m misunderstanding you, but isn’t the point of MTBoS to make math education better? Don’t we WANT the tennis club (which I read to be big mainstreamed math orgs) to take and use our ideas? Won’t those ideas be better if they borrow MTBoS community members? It would be kind of crappy for us to come up with all these great ideas and then thumb our noses at the Tennis club, telling them that they can listen to our meetings, but we sure won’t help them implement our ideas.

      I have done work for NCTM – but I’m still involved in MTBoS. Perhaps your concern is when MTBoS people leave for the Tennis club and never come back. I don’t think that happens. MTBoS, once you’ve figured out some way to navigate it, isn’t something that is an “either, or” for me. It’s always “and also…” I use materials from my school and supplement with MTBoS (actually, it’s more the other way around, I tend to use MTBoS and supplement from school, but thats a whole different discussion).

      Reply
      1. Michael Pershan

        “Let me know if I’m misunderstanding you, but isn’t the point of MTBoS to make math education better?”

        I have no idea what the point of the MTBoS is, but making math education better sounds nice!

        “Don’t we WANT the tennis club (which I read to be big mainstreamed math orgs) to take and use our ideas?”

        If those ideas are good, sure!

        “I have done work for NCTM – but I’m still involved in MTBoS. Perhaps your concern is when MTBoS people leave for the Tennis club and never come back. I don’t think that happens.”

        I think that might happen.

        Not in the sense of “disappear off the face of the twitter-blog-o-verse, but I think it’s true that people have less energy for intra-community stuff when their energy is committed to other forms of community work.

        We’re operating at a level of generality here that makes me nervous. I want to stay FAR AWAY from laying down rules of participation for anybody. That doesn’t help anyone. All I’m trying to do is explain why I look at the way things are and I’m not super-confident that we’re moving in a good direction, communally. (Then again, it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to go to a TMC and that would make a difference.)

        I notice myself falling into a trap that I’ve fallen into several other times in my life. When I get comfy in a community, I start feeling that the community isn’t quite ambitious enough. This is probably an annoying habit to everyone that I’m around, and IRL I’ve gotten better about shutting up, except to my wife. Clearly I have no such restraint in my online life.

        Still, I think I can be constructive. Here are my Big Three of things that it would take for Michael to feel less nervous when he thinks about the state of the MTBoS:

        (a) More stuff that isn’t tweeting
        (b) More stuff IRL
        (c) More highly collaborative projects

        Richer connections, richer communication, richer projects, richer community.

        Reply
        1. Dan Meyer

          “But one thing that probably can’t happen, if the exciting talent and innovations of the park group are directed away from the park, is the deep development of the park community.”

          NCTM is a MTBoS affiliate! We owe them our help in the same way they owe help to their downstream affiliates at the state and regional level.

          “Here are my Big Three of things that it would take for Michael to feel less nervous when he thinks about the state of the MTBoS.”

          My Big One is this: teachers feel like their needs are met, to the extent that an online community has any ability to meet them.

          I’m on record as encouraging all of us towards a healthy amount of self-centeredness in our online interactions. Let’s not overthink this. The MTBoS is downstream from its members needs for community, professional development, resources, etc. Whenever this online community stops serving those needs, or serves them less capably than some other medium, we should shut it down with a lot of gratitude, nostalgia, but especially speed.

          Reply
          1. Michael Pershan

            There’s a possible tension between “be more selfish” and “we owe NCTM our help,” which I point out only because I think that we all admire a certain open-heartedness towards the world of math education, and we all agree that we shouldn’t hoard our insights or energies.

            You and I have gone back and forth on “be selfish” before. It’s a frame that I find hard to adopt — possibly from being part of communal traditions that emphasize obligation and duty.

            Maybe I would have an easier time making myself clear if I stopped using the word ‘MTBoS.’ The MTBoS shouldn’t change, because the MTBoS (which is what we call whatever it is that people do online) can’t change.

            I think that it would be good for me — selfishly — and perhaps for a few selfish others if we could find some slightly different ways to engage online. My Big Three: less twitter, more IRL, more collaborative projects. That is not about the “direction of the MTBoS” It’s just a thing that I would like and I suspect other people would like. It’s something that isn’t currently happening. Selfishly, I want it.

            Re my whole ‘tennis’ thing: forget it. People should do whatever the want to do.

            So, I wonder how I can get what I want. And maybe I can’t, and that’s fine. The MTBoS can’t always satisfy a person’s professional needs.

          2. Dan Meyer

            “So, I wonder how I can get what I want. And maybe I can’t, and that’s fine. The MTBoS can’t always satisfy a person’s professional needs.”

            Love that re-orientation! Be the #MTBoS you want to see in the world. And when you figure out how to promote IRL activities in a digital medium, get ready for our national affiliate to try to co-opt you!

          3. Annie Perkins

            I heartily endorse figuring out ways to make more substantial small group collaboration happen. That could be in person, or it could be online. TMC is a fantastic way to do this, but it seems like we should be able to come up with ways to make substantial (beyond just a simple twitter conversation) collaboration real. Are other people already doing this and I’m just missing it? If so, speak up!

  5. Annie Perkins

    I’m currently giggling myself silly. Reading your reply, Dan, I came up with the response below, but then hesitated thinking, “Wait, do I post that here? Will he see it? Do I post to twitter? Uh.. which tweet is best to reply, to?” Thus, I prove your point-ish.

    I do think there are a couple of habits MTBoS can adopt (perhaps more widely, maybe there are folks out there already doing this) that would help out. If I were brand new to twitter, I’d probably search #math, #algebra, #Teach but I don’t see #mtbos-ers using those tags very often. More often it’s #alg2chat or #tmwyk or #arraychat. This is a quick fix – might make things slightly easier to navigate.

    I will personally commit to sending out periodic tweets like what I just sent out: “Hey! Looking for #math #algebra or #geometry #teach ideas? Follow the hashtag #MTBoS which stands for “Math Twitter Blog’o’Sphere”!”

    Not a perfect solution, but a tiny one that may help people.

    Reply
    1. dkane47 Post author

      I think this is really important. My question is — what are people’s goals in using the mtbos? How many people want to be a part of the community? How many want to lurk and use ideas? How many want to contribute? In what ways? How many of those different groups feel like they can actualize their goals in the community? Why? What types of teachers feel successful? What types of teachers don’t?

      I worry that, if we managed to learn the answers to those questions, we would learn that being more transparent about hashtags and what is going on are both very necessary and far insufficient.

      Reply
    2. banderson02

      You make a good point here Annie, perhaps in our desire to create a easy-to-find chat hashtag, we have taken away from the accessibility of our ideas. I know it would become a steady flood of tweets, but perhaps chats should just hashtag to their classification (instead of #Alg1Chat be #Algebra).

      Reply
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  7. banderson02

    When someone made the comment that there didn’t seem to be as many #MTBoS’ers at NCTM I have been thinking about this. The reality of the situation is that there are a TON (yes, I am safe to say a ton) of math teachers who are not aware of it’s existence. How can we connect more? How can we make things more welcoming? Other that what we are trying, I am not sure. Perhaps those that seem to be in control of the #MTBoS hashtag could make more time to tweet back to individuals (I’m not saying that you don’t but that perhaps people feel that barrier). I can guess who the main #MTBoS players are, and as far as I know all of them are very accessible (except for Dan, he’s too busy getting coffee).

    I think the biggest downfall is that we all try to define what it actually is, but from what I know and experience of it- there is no one air-tight definition of the #MTBoS or it’s rules of engagement. The beauty of it is that it is flexible to be what you need it to. Can it be massive? Yes, but it is supposed to be. As more and more people access it, it becomes larger and larger and that is to all of our benefit. There are times that I wish we just all had pages to a main MTBoS site, so that browsing could be more centrally localized, but I’m not sure any server could handle the load that our members would place on it.

    My bottom line on it is this, don’t be afraid to get your feet wet. Don’t feel you HAVE to do anything to be in the community. Don’t feel like you can’t ask questions (personally message me anytime that you do feel this way- I have ways of making people talk). I also don’t see an issue with how connected NCTM is with people in the MTBoS. For either group to be successful I think there has to be a tight inter-connectedness (is that even a word?!). There is no right or wrong way to be in the #MTBoS community, that is unless you don’t even try (and that statement also assumed you feel you NEED the MTBoS, if you don’t need it then carry on!).

    Reply
    1. Andrea

      Why I joined MTBoS
      – IRL, the people I briefly met are kind, welcoming, full of interesting ideas.
      – I value math education and math education discourse.
      – I have (possibly) good ideas (that need criticism) to share and that I’m willing to share with the community.
      – I am an infoholic. I like knowing stuff.
      – I was already secretly part of MTBoS, but tweeting in a relative vacuum.

      The boiled down version of why I only joined MTBoS last Wednesday:

      – I don’t comment on very much publicly besides politics and pictures of nature and very yummy looking food (Instagram), though now we can add math ed to the list.
      – The internet is a big place and there is information overload for even the savviest users. The internet is not easy even for tech savvy users.
      – I didn’t know MTBoS existed until Wednesday and this is probably related to the fact that I have a strong support system in my professional life.

      On engaging in a public forum…

      Some self-analysis that may or may not matter: IRL I’m an introvert, but I am not shy. I can be quite agreeable when I want to be. I am, however, very reserved and, therefore, picky about what I share in the public media fora. Online, I’m also an introvert, meaning I don’t get energy from reading tons of different posts and news articles, but I can’t help myself because I like knowing stuff and I like thinking. I’m also not as reserved in my private circles, meaning Facebook, where I can control my audience, I post quite often about math, education and politics, plus pictures of nature and food, of course.

      Here was my dilemma when I learned about MTBoS. As a publicly private person, I naturally have a more difficult time engaging in a community such as MTBoS. I imagine there are many teachers who are in the same boat. Most of the teachers at my school either don’t use Twitter or use it exclusively as lurkers. Many teachers I know also don’t want to lose their privacy. Once I knew about the existence of MTBoS, I was not instantly sold either. However, the amount that I value community and mathematical education discourse outweighs my desire to be an introvert online. Hence, my reaching out to post.

      The internet is hard…

      Despite how it may seem with my failure to engage on Twitter until recently. I’m tech savvy. I hear about most new tech/edutech from friends who are on the ground floor in the industry, professors, random people who reach out to me through my network. IRL I am lucky to know a lot of interesting education people who also know interesting education people. I hear about everything else through my very desirable email address that people seem to use to register for accounts and make up stupid user names. It turns out some person already made a wordpress account for my email address.

      However, most people are not tech savvy or have the same level of persistence that I have to work through the kinks. This makes engaging with MTBoS hard. For example, my initial reply to this post, despite the internet telling me I had already made that post (twice) was rejected. It’s hard enough to find MTBoS, let alone engage with it once you find it.

      Which leads me to… MTBoS is hard/hard to remember to find…

      MTBoS is so hard to find, that even though the owner of MTBoS.org is my friend from college and I know he teaches math, I had no idea it existed until last Wednesday. Thanks a lot Griz! 😉

      I may even have heard about MTBoS through word of mouth from other users. It’s unclear though. I don’t remember, which means that MTBoS users didn’t make it clear enough what the community is for/about (though that sounds like it is in debate as well).

      I learned about MTBoS through good old word of mouth from someone kind enough to chat with a newbie at the MET celebration (which was poorly attended possibly due to flight cancellations) and tell me to go to the MTBoS game night (impossible to know about if you don’t know about MTBoS, and difficult to go through as an introvert). It takes a while for something that people aren’t engaged in to sink in, so it took me some time to put 2 and 2 together and understand the benefits of MTBoS and how to engage in it. I wanted to find out more, but the MTBoS booth was empty when I stopped by.

      Maybe, I’m just incredibly unobservant and/or have incredibly poor timing, but maybe not. I benefit from a very strong network of teachers who are not involved in MTBoS, some would even call themselves tech-challenged. Thanks to my amazing colleagues and my amazing network, I haven’t really looked to the internet to be a source of inspiration or ideas. Likewise, some people might not think about searching for MTBoS related topics, but they are posting about math.

      So what does this mean…

      Engage people online actively.

      Annie did a great bit of self reflection on the choice of hashtag for the community and introducing it on a semi regular basis. However, this is still a passive action, waiting for more math teachers to find you, when the world of Twitter is full of so many posts all the time.

      I posted into a relative vacuum that I was excited to present using the #NCTMannual tag. My ask to the community is to be actively finding and inviting people posting about #math, #algebra, #geometry, #nctmannual, etc. into the community. Let me add that I KNOW THIS IS MORE WORK! Or is it a chance to know more and connect more? Isn’t it exciting to find people with different ideas about how to approach math ed? For me, it is. There are more ideas than I can ever implement, but there’s joy that it’s out there.

      Engage people IRL actively.

      I wouldn’t be part of MTBoS if I weren’t engaged actively in person by many wonderful welcoming people. Talking to new (and old) teachers you encounter about it and telling them what you’ve gained from it is a starting point. Also, don’t stop talking about MTBoS.

      Encourage people to go to MTBoS presentations and also go to presentations of people who don’t seem to have a MTBoS presence. Why is this important? Because we all have ideas that need feedback and discourse, and we might find some great ideas out there that the MTBoS community would love to hear about and build upon.

      Reply
      1. dkane47 Post author

        First, thank you for persisting with the bug in my comments. I apologize, and I’m working on it.

        I may be reading into your comment, but one thread I see here is that you are participating in the MTBoS for you. I think that’s great. I participate for me — I participate to find great new ideas, be inspired, have a chance to write and sort through my thinking, and much more.

        I want more people to be involved in the MTBoS, and to feel like they can be involved in a way that is fulfilling for them. That is a selfish desire — the more awesome people there are around, the more I learn, and the stronger our community is. I wonder if that idea is one that resonates with other people, and if it’s something that’s worth sharing more broadly and thinking about how we can put it into action.

        Maybe I’m reading too much into your ideas. Hope this is helpful, thanks for your thoughts!

        Reply
      2. babend

        I certainly appreciate this comment, and although I’m naturally an extrovert, there’s a certain amount of trust in the community that I need to have before I truly open up and reach out. I’ve been a part of MTBoS for the last couple of years, but after having met some people face-to-face, I’ve felt more comfortable opening up to the community. A few tidbits for thought:

        1) Just because a teacher isn’t a part of the MTBoS does not mean that they’re not thoughtful practitioners. Not every teacher needs to be a part of MTBoS, in the same way that not every teacher needs to be a part of NCTM. Remember that both groups consist of self-selecting people.
        2) It seems MTBoS teachers often feel less supported by their administrations, meaning they probably don’t have the funds to make it to the NCTM conference or TMC, and therefore do not get the face-to-face and the personal connections.
        3) New groups are tough to break into in general. People don’t trust you until you’ve got enough handshakes/touches with the community members. It’s the same way in most places that you go, with the idea of, “Why should I be in contact with this person if I don’t know their staying power? Why invest the time into tweeting with this person/commenting on this blog if I’m not sure they’ll keep up their end of the professional development?”

        This past week, I got a lot out of NCTM. I also got a lot out of the MTBoS community. I get different things from each group and find value in each. I might have never found MTBoS without being more invested in my teaching, without being a member of NCTM.

        Reply
  8. Pingback: NCSM/NCTM My Favorite | Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had

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