I attended my first TMC – Twitter Math Camp, this year. And I learned so, so much. I loved every presentation I went to, every lunch I had with local teachers and being surrounded by mostly high school math teachers (which rarely happens for me at conferences!) But the thing I keep reflecting on with camp ending is #MTBoS.
As you might expect, TMC is full of a bunch of math nerds, my peeps, or Tweeps as I now know to call them. See, I’m pretty terrible at using Twitter. I find it to hard to keep up with. I still don’t know the best way to curate all the ideas that I come across. Plus, I just don’t feel as though I’m that interesting. I don’t think I even learned about TMC through Twitter, rather I think I heard about it through Henri Picciotto’s blog initially. In May, when I told my colleague @BeckyHall75 that TMC was in Atlanta this year and since I was going to be in Atlanta visiting the folks I would attend she said to me “have you already registered? If not, it’s already full.” What?! Twitter Math Camp is so popular it fills up? I had no idea, because again, not on Twitter enough.
But one of the biggest things at TMC is that everybody is “whatever enough” to participate. The themes of presentations in the 5 minute form of “Favorites” are often about building relationships with students and amongst the community of teachers…. which is why I found the backlash against Dan Myer’s move to switch from #MTBoS to #iteachmath so interesting. And by backlash, I mean, what felt to me, constant shaming of #iteachmath. It often made me feel like an outsider at TMC. I don’t have the background, but I understood quickly that there were strong feelings involved.
Remember me saying I’m terrible at Twitter, I had no idea what #MTBoS was (turns out it’s Math Twitter Blog o’Sphere) and early into TMC17 the newbies were encouraged to get themselves on the list. But it wasn’t (and still isn’t) clear to me what the list was/is… is it a list of math blogs? Is it a list of math enthusiasts? I haven’t used #MTBoS yet because I’m terrible at keeping up with this blog, along with Twitter. And I don’t know that I expect anyone to read it ever, so why put it out there to the Blog o’Sphere? And because I’m not well known on Twitter or for my blog, I don’t feel right using #MTBoS or somehow getting added to the list…
But then on the last day after everyone else had taken off, I stuck around and had lunch with David and Taylor and got a whole new perspective on #MTBoS. Back in the day, I think around 2011, many of the TMC folks got together through #MTBoS. For some, yes, it is a way to refer to blogs, but for many more it was a safe place to come and ask questions about teaching. Putting your insecurities out there to be supported, get new ideas. It formed a community that has become tight knit and led to the first TMC. Not intentionally exclusionary, but people excited to have found their Tweeps and now 6 years into TMCs people excited to see their friends.
David and Taylor both made me feel comfortable with how to move forward with #MTBoS. It doesn’t have to be about the blog at all, it can just be about mathematical best practices, which I am all for. So #MTBoS, I’ll be looking at you and hopefully to you for help in the coming year(s), because there is always room for me to become a better teacher/learner/community member.