I’m not asking us to retire the #MTBoS (unabbreviated: the Math Twitterblogosphere) the collection of people, ideas, and relationships that has provided the most satisfying professional development and community of my life.
I’m asking us to stop referring to it as “the MTBoS” and to stop using the hashtag “#MTBoS” in online conversations.
That’s because this community is only as good as the people we invite into it. We currently represent only the tiniest fraction of the math teachers in the world, which means we (and I’d like to believe they also) are missing out.
That fraction will stay tiny so long as our name alienates people. And it alienates people.
Umm, MTBoS? What is that please?— Prof Rick Fletcher (@TRFletcher) July 26, 2017
People don’t know how to pronounce our name. Whenever I use it, I get tweets back asking me what I’m talking about. Whenever I invite new teachers to get on Twitter and search for “#MTBoS,” their confusion is plain at that seemingly random assortment of vowels and consonants, capitalized in seemingly random ways.
This morning I read a tweet from a science teacher named Andrew Morrison. I learned from Andrew that the physics teaching community hashtags their work “#iteachphysics.” I felt such a sense of invitation when I read that hashtag – “This is who we are and what we do. You should join us.” And then I felt envy.
We should be so inviting.
This community of ours has no leader. It has no high council. Each one of us has to be the change we want to see in it. I want to see a more inviting community, a community that doesn’t shroud its entrance behind a hedge or protect its door with a password.
So I’m going to stop referring to my participation in “the MTBoS” and instead talk about how much I love “Math Teacher Twitter.” I’m going to stop tweeting using “#MTBoS” and instead tweet using “#iteachmath.”
No one has to join me, and I absolutely won’t be offended if you don’t, but I hope you will, and I hope you at least understand why I’m doing this. I think this change is necessary for our growth and this is how I’ll try to be that change.
Reservations That I Had About This Proposal That I Don’t Anymore
“#iteachmath” is five more characters than “#MTBoS. That’s five fewer characters for my tweets!”
I accept that those five characters are the cost of a more inviting community.
Twitter users outside the United States will want to use “#iteachmaths.”
The MTBoS has a very, very tiny handful of community members outside the United States as it is. I think we can only improve from here. Me, I’m going to add both “#iteachmaths” and “#iteachmath” to the same column in Tweetdeck.
“MTBoS” includes blogs (the “B”) but “Math Teacher Twitter” just refers to Twitter.
“MTBoS” also fails to refer to Slack, Voxer, or any of the other ways teachers collaborate online. “Math Teacher Twitter” hints at all those ways. It doesn’t try to catalog them.
But I’m a coach / consultant / curriculum author / administrator. I don’t teach math so I’ll feel weird using “#iteachmath”.
Let’s not treat this hashtag like it’s a sworn statement in a court of law. It’s an invitation. It’s how we’ll gather community around a conversation. It doesn’t need to serve any higher purpose than that, and I think it’ll serve that purpose better than anything we have right now.
Finally!! Cause I could never figure out how to be a part. I want to be a part. #iteachmath— Natalie Moon (@themathgirl) July 27, 2017
I agree. It 'sounds' like an organization you have to apply to. And existing members are better than you, and always know more than you— Justin Yantho (@iYantho) July 27, 2017
Justin’s tweet seems really, really important to me. Consider the perceived requirements for membership in the #MTBoS vs. #iteachmath.
#MTBoS: who knows, but a blood sample and credit verification is probably part of it.
#iteachmath: it’s right there in the hashtag. That’s it. No guessing. You’re invited.
Thank You! I have followed for mult yrs but always felt like until some1 "in" knew who you were, you weren't actually in the club...— Jason Kissel (@MrKisselMATH) July 27, 2017
This is awesome. I've been on the very fringes for many these reasons. It might just be semantics, but definitely #iteachmath— Angela Cooper (@angecooper) July 28, 2017
I joined the community of online teachers this last year and attended the national conference. MTBoS felt like a secret society that I wished to be a part of but didn’t know how to get in.
… my honest-to-goodness first thought about being invited was, “Am I ‘in’ the #MTBoS ‘enough’ to speak about it with these other mathies who seem to be ‘in’ it ‘more’?
This makes me happy. For months when I first discovered #MTBoS, I had no idea what it stood for and felt so left out! And then I had no idea how to talk about it to others. (And usually resorted to “it’s basically math teacher twitter.”)