“This community is not about impressing each other.” -Tracy Zager, keynote speaker at TMC16
I stumbled into the Math Twitter Blogosphere (MTBoS) world when I first started teaching three years ago. I don’t remember exactly how I found it, but one click lead to the next. Before I knew it several hours had passed, and I had forgotten what I was originally looking for. As I’ve continued down various rabbit trails in the MTBoS world, I’ve slowly discovered more and more of the awesomeness that this community has created and continue to be amazed at the things that have come from this group.
Over the years, I have thought about blogging, but I’ve never followed through with it because in my mind a) much of what I do in my classsroom has been inspired by someone else so it wouldn’t be anything new and b) the rest of it isn’t “good enough” to put out there for the world to see. As I’ve dug further and further into blogs, it was even more cemented in my mind that these people are so far out of my league -another reason I have refrained from actively participating in the MTBoS world. Who was I to throw out a question to them on Twitter or comment on their blogs, let alone start a blog of my own?
Obviously, if you’re reading this, I’ve decided to hit the “publish” button and am putting this out there for anyone to read. So what changed?
I went to Twitter Math Camp (TMC). That’s what changed.
I went to TMC still feeling like I was completely out of my league. One of the things said to the first time attendees at TMC was that there are no rock star teachers there. At the time I thought to myself, “Yeah, right! The people that say that usually are the rock stars!” However, these are some of the things I noticed throughout the course of TMC.
- During the Desmos pre-conference, I watched Dan Meyer and the rest of the Desmos team attentively listen in on conversations teachers were having while working in Desmos making mental notes of ways to make their product better. I saw people ask them questions they didn’t have answers for yet.
- I worked with people I would consider “rock star” teachers. I asked them questions. They asked me questions. We learned from each other.
- I watched as these “rock stars” had their minds blown more than once by something someone said or an idea someone shared with them. You could literally see their minds racing as they thought of ways to apply this knew knowledge in their classroom.
So maybe these “rock stars” don’t have it all figured out? They’re still learning too? They make mistakes just like me? Going to TMC made these teachers whose blogs and tweets I read real to me. However, what does separate these teachers from me is that they’re willing to put themselves out there and let others see into their classrooms. They’re asking questions and looking for feedback from others to take their good ideas and turn them into great ideas.
These are the questions I left TMC with: What’s my role in all this? How do I go from a MTBoS stalker to an active participant? What does that look like? The idea of a blog terrifies me, but as I’ve asked myself why I would start a blog I’ve come up with this:
- It forces self-reflection.
- It gives others, outside the walls of my school, an opportunity to give me feedback on things I’ve done in my classroom and provides an avenue for the collaboration that took place at TMC to happen year round.
- Although I may end up blogging about something many other people have blogged about already, there’s a pretty good chance I do those things a bit different from others, and someone may benefit from seeing those things in a slightly different way.
As I look at that list if the only thing that comes of this is self reflection, this will be worthwhile. The second two would be added bonuses, even if they only happen once.
So here goes nothing. I’m facing my fears and jumping into the MTBoS community because of what I experienced at TMC. The idea of actually following through with this still scares me, but I keep coming back to what Tracy said, “This community is not about impressing each other.” And thank goodness for that!