Lane Walker tweeted earlier this week.
— Lane Walker (@LaneWalker2) August 3, 2017
She’s not the first to posit that the whole is the sum of its parts (much like — some might say — an elephant). I shan’t be so bold as to imply that I’m doing it right (more on that later), but I only know what I know.
To that end, here’s how I engage in the Math Twitter Blogosphere (or #MTBoS for short).
These are my methods; all are welcome to critique, copy, and hold me accountable to them.
Be Vulnerable & Accessible
Earlier this week, I was in Utah with John for the Utah Council for Teachers of Mathematics. Sitting next to a woman in the back row of a math-coaching session, we were joking, sharing our thoughts on the day, and chatting about the presenter’s ideas. Things took a turn when she asked what part of Utah I was from.
Vaudrey: Oh, I’m from Southern California
Diane: Oh! … Why are you here?
Vaudrey: I came up for the day to give some workshops and … um… the keynote tonight.
When I paint myself into a corner and have to make braggy-sounding comments like that, I squirm every time. However, it’s my hope that people who meet me in person are then more likely to see me on stage (or wherever) and feel like we’re on the same team.
That’s my favorite part of the Math Twitter Blogosphere. That’s why I attend conferences, volunteer at the booth, give books away to new teachers, and generally want to improve education for as many teachers (and students) as I can.
Megan Schmidt noted, after returning from Twitter Math Camp 2014:
It’s a network of teachers across the country that come together over mathematics, but truly bond over their inherent desire to help all students succeed. And it’s open to anyone who has the desire to be one of the connecting threads.
That’s why every workshop I give ends with, “And I want to help you with all of this stuff. I offer lifetime technical support on all these items, and here’s my information <projects slide on screen>. Contact me if it goes well, if it goes poorly, or if you get stuck.”
And many do. I get emails on the regular about Desmos, Musical Cues, and Classroom Chef. And several that say, “I joined Twitter for the first time!” Which has been an encouragement from me for years.
Hear and Engage Varied Viewpoints
Harry O’Malley holds that subdividing the all-encompassing MTBoS into several dozen smaller hashtags by region and content increase the feeling of belonging. I’m probably not going to do that, for two reasons:
1.) It sounds time-consuming to consult a catalog of that size for every math-related tweet.
2.) The enormous reach of the hashtag is part of its appeal for me.
My whole family is straight, middle-class, WASPs. So is most of my church, most of my friends, and most of my colleagues at work. All of the above groups care deeply about other perspectives, and I can use Twitter to curate a steady stream of people that are unlike me.
In addition to math educators who continue to significantly impact my practice, I follow some of the voices in #EduColor and #SoJustEdu. Since I haven’t experienced oppression firsthand, I must listen when I hear about it, ask questions to understand more, and take action.
“You talked about Ss of color, but most of your images are of white Ss.”
— Matt Vaudrey (@MrVaudrey) July 11, 2017
Truth be told, I follow people like crazy, then unfollow them when I feel like my professional journey isn’t being advanced by their message.
Relatedly, I can peek over the shoulders of many more math teachers by looking through #MTBoS than looking through dozens of other, more-specific, hashtags.
Do You, Boo-boo
All eleven years of my career, I’ve had this blog. All eleven years of those posts are still up, and I’ll occasionally drift across something I wrote in 2009 that still resonates with me today. The same core of 2009 Mr. Vaudrey hums within my 2017 frame, and it’s my hope that the blog and twitter feed both show an evolution of common values.
That I’ve always been me, and I’m a little bit better me every day.
Teachers I respect occasionally “lose” followers. So do I. That’s okay. The goal here isn’t to have a loud megaphone but to have a calm discussion that everyone can listen to.
Blog and tweet true to yourself every time, and stay positive.
Share, Thank, and “Yes, and…” Often
And vice versa! There’s too much goodness out there not to share it as far and wide as I can.
— Brian Bushart (@bstockus) August 7, 2017
You never know how a small act of kindness will make someone’s day. Relatedly, some of the more interesting additions to my tweeted lesson plans involved someone on Twitter tagging on. I so appreciate that, so now I offer “Yes, and…” to teachers who ask for it.
Depends on the person, but my quick response is, “How about I teach it during my prep to your kids? You might be right, & now I’m curious.”
— Matt Vaudrey (@MrVaudrey) July 6, 2017
Because we all want to feel like our work matters, right? We all want to feel like we’re making a difference, not just for our students, but for education as a whole. So I give out back-pats like I’m Oprah.
+ even tho I’ve made great relationships at TMC. What made me feel most included was having places where my contributions were useful.
— Judy Larsen (@JudyLarsen3) August 3, 2017
I have a medium-sized megaphone, so I amplify quiet voices.
Adding to my Routine
All this recent chatter (and — honestly — writing these posts) has gotten me thinking about other ways to make #MTBoS more inviting and more inclusive, so I’m adding these habits:
1.) Kate suggested following up any mention of #mtbos with “Math Twitter Blogosphere,” which I think is a fair and accessible suggestion.
Clue the noobs in. It’s a kindness.
3.) And I followed ExploreMTBoS on Twitter, which — frankly — was long overdue.
What’s missing here? What have I forgotten?
~Matt “Always nearing, never arrived” Vaudrey