Kate Nowak recently wrote a post about her upcoming talk at NCTM New Orleans this spring asking the following questions:
1. What hooked you on reading the blogs? Was it a particular post or person? Was it an initiative by the nice MTBoS folks? A colleague in your building got you into it? Desperation?
2. What keeps you coming back? What’s the biggest thing you get out of reading and/or commenting?
3. If you write, why do you write? What’s the biggest thing you get out of it?
4. If you chose to enter a room where I was going to talk about blogging for an hour (or however long you could stand it), what would you hope to be hearing from me? MTBoS cheerleading and/or tourism? How-to’s? Stories?
So even though I’m a slacker of a blogger, I thought I’d try my hand here.
1. I started reading math blogs during my year of graduate school as I was earning my teaching certification. I was into education because I loved teenagers, not necessarily because I wanted to teach math. Math was just the vehicle, so I was dreading standing in front of a classroom and boring myself to tears. I stumbled upon Dan Meyer‘s TED talk about changing math education and became an avid reader of his blog. As I lurked, I noticed the same people were always commenting on his posts, and eventually discovered an entire community known lovingly as the “MathTwitterBlog-O-Sphere” (MTBoS).
2. I would say that what I get from being a part of the MTBoS is great lesson ideas, and I do get those and use them, but the reason I really keep reading is that I just selfishly enjoy it. I like being invited into other teachers’ classrooms and I like reading what thoughtful people are discussing about current educational practices. And sometimes I remember to use what I see, and sometimes I’m just along for the ride.
3. Whenever I get around to actually writing, it could be for any number of reasons. I’ve written posts to keep a record of what I’m doing as a teacher. I’ve written posts to share about something important that heppened, or get something heavy off my chest. And, I’ve written posts to try to give back to the community that has shared so much with me. This is my main motivation. I want some new teacher to stumble upon the MTBoS as I did and find an even wider range of teachers sharing their hopes, their successes, and their failures. I just sometimes dread finding the time to do it.
4. Finally, if I were to make it to NCTM again (as I hopefully will) and found myself in a room where Kate was speaking (as I hopefully will), I think the most influential thing I could hear would be stories about lessons and conversations and relationships that have been able to happen only because the MTBoS exists. I think it’s the connections that teachers are making with each other that makes joining the community so tempting. So many of us are looking for that teacher to challenge us or to encourage us and, unfortunately, they’re not always in our building. Being involved in the MTBoS gives you access to that, and let’s you be that for someone else. Then, of course, there would have to be a how-to so all of the emotionally-charged teachers thinking to themselves “I want that!” can go ahead and create a blog.