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Earlier this evening, 39 math teachers attended a web conference to discuss the “State of the Math Twitter Blogosphere,” a community that comprises many millions of math teachers from god-knows-how-many countries. I’m sure the premise of that conference – that anything these 39 teachers might say or do or decide about any of these questions would have any kind of corporate effect on the community they’re one infinitesimally small part of – was well-meant, but it seemed awfully self-regarding at the same time. The premise frustrated me.

My microphone frustrated me also at the exact moment I was going to speak my piece. Here is that piece, polished a little and elaborated quite a lot. It expresses my frustration, yeah, but also a lot of gratitude for a community to which I really probably owe a kidney if it asked.


One thousand math teachers will start one thousand new blogs and one thousand new Twitter accounts tomorrow and they will be totally unaware that this conversation ever happened. They will be completely unaware of our corporate resolutions here.

This conversation might be ineffective but it might also do some harm. I’m uncomfortable with how concerned we are with the right ways to tweet, blog, collaborate, and socialize online.

Because I’ve had that conversation before. For several months on Twitter I didn’t follow anybody. I enjoyed composing silliness in 140 characters but I didn’t yet feel any need to read anybody else’s. And people gave me grief about it. As though there was some right way to do this Internet thing.

There isn’t.

The resolutions we make as a group here won’t matter at all. They won’t have any effect on the community of which we’re one small particle. But the resolutions we make personally matter enormously – whether you’re read by two people or two hundred or two million.

I encourage you to be the blogger and tweeter you want everybody else to be.

Imagine if everyone tweeted and blogged like you. (And I don’t mean your ideas and your opinions. That would be boring.) Imagine if everyone shared your ethic and the value you place on community. What kind of online math education community would result?

For example:

  • I like reading tweets that use complete sentences and few abbreviations, so that’s how I try to tweet.
  • I like seeing lots of internal and external links in other people’s blog posts so that’s how I try to blog.
  • I like people who criticize me fairly, but seriously, who don’t drape their criticism with qualifiers like “In my opinion” or “Don’t take this the wrong way” or “I’m not trying to be mean.” So that’s how I try to criticize.

As I and my blog have changed over seven years, I’ve found different ways to express that ethic to my community. Here is a fly-by of those changes, in case they’re of any use to you.

When I started blogging:

I blogged like no one was reading. Bloggers come and go. The bloggers that have stayed all seem to recommend this.

I asked for commentary. You can email someone directly and ask for commentary. You can write a post and include a link to someone else’s blog, which they’ll then follow because we’re all vain creatures. You can write a post and then tweet a link that includes the author’s Twitter handle. (Example: “My recent post on Dan Meyer’s wrong ideas about the mathtwitterblogosphere. /cc @ddmeyer.” Irresistible!)

I tried to have an opinion. Most of them were wrong, but I respected bloggers who wrote about their own opinions as well other people’s. So that’s how I wrote.

I blogged under my own name. There are plenty of good reasons to blog anonymously, but if that isn’t your explicit goal, you should spackle your identity – including your name and photo – all over your blog. It’s amazing how many times I read some great idea from some new blog and I want to holler that blogger’s name from the Twitter rooftops only to have to apply some serious Google-fu to find it.

I asked explicitly for criticism. You may tell yourself you’d happily accept criticism, but no one will offer it unless you ask for it explicitly, repeatedly, and then respond gratefully to the criticism that’s helpful and then ask for more. Eventually you won’t have to. At the moment, no one does this better or more consistently than Michael Pershan. None of his readers can seriously doubt his gratitude and eagerness for criticism. It’s his ethic.

I started to “feature” comments. I wanted to build a community around here, to celebrate good ideas and good criticism apart from my own, so I started pulling useful comments up to the main post and then telling those commenters I appreciated their comments. I appreciated how seriously other blogs took comments and I wanted to be that kind of blogger.

Then the gears on this blog shifted. Now:

I try to turn interesting opportunities into blog posts. Your name and contact information are on your blog, right? As people contact you for increasingly interesting projects and opportunities, you can share that learning with people who didn’t have your same blind-stupid luck.

I answer every email. This isn’t true, but it’s close to true and I absolutely want it to be true. I have an email in my inbox right now from a first-year teacher I know nothing about asking me whether he should take a job offer at one school or another. I get emails from parents – really desperate parents – who want their children to be challenged less by math (and sometimes to be challenged more), from principals who want to know how to change their math faculty’s approach to teaching, from Chinese students who’d like to tell me what math is like in their country, from sympathizers, from antagonists. I answer (nearly) all of these because that’s how I’d like this community to be.

I try to highlight the best of new blogs. This “Great Classroom Action” feature suddenly overwhelmed me a few months ago because there was so much of that action and you guys were so good at capturing it. But I’ll pick that back up. It’s important. When I was in the classroom, I could contribute the action. Now that I’m not, all I can do is read the blogs so you don’t have to. I hoover up every RSS subscription I can, scan every post, and keep my eye out for images of students doing interesting, challenging mathematics.

I try to create more value here than I’ve captured. This has become increasingly difficult because I am enriched by you all every day in new and different and more extravagant ways, which challenges me to find ways to create the same kind of extravagant value. Your generosity makes reciprocity very difficult, but I volunteer for webinars, hop on phone calls, answer emails, contribute feedback on curriculum projects, and write appreciative notes to your students who catch my errors. I don’t know if I’ll ever find enough ways to pitch in.

This is how I do online community not because it’s the right way or the only way to do online community but because it’s how I want this online community to look. I’m not asking anyone here to be like me. I’m not asking anyone here to resolve to do anything corporately. I don’t think those resolutions will have any effect. I’m asking you to consider how you’d like this community to look and then to act accordingly.

I can’t speak with enough gratitude for this place and I’m excited to see what you all make of it and what it makes of all of you.

2013 Jun 25. I update posts, even ones that are millions of years old, because I love coming across other people’s old posts that show not just their current thinking or their oldest thinking but the progression from one to the other.

2013 Jun 25. Kate Nowak, the high priestess of the high council, simultaneously wrote up her own ethic, though she wouldn’t be so pompous as to call it an “ethic.”

Featured Pushback

G Taylor:

I don’t think it’s a matter of being concerned with the ‘right’ way, so much as the ‘most effective’ way … or perhaps the ‘less ineffective’ way.

Justin Lanier:

But Chris asked some great questions and people came up with lots of thoughts to share about them. No one was trying to delineate the “right ways” to interact online.

[..]

For crying out loud, it was a conversation that was centered around helping people feel more welcome and comfortable joining in whenever and however possible.

My response.

2013 Jun 29. Updating myself in the comments:

But I want say that I see how the title of this post, the tone of the first few paragraphs, along with whatever esteem this community has for me has had the cumulative effective of making some of you shocked and defensive, and in no position to give those ideas that close read. I am sorry for that, both because I’ve distracted the conversation from the 90% of this post that I actually care about but especially because I like you guys and your work and would never want you to feel small on my account.

39 Responses to “The Gathering Of The High Council Of The Math Teacher Bloggers”

  1. on 25 Jun 2013 at 7:54 pmDarren Kuropatwa

    Amen.

  2. on 25 Jun 2013 at 8:47 pmRussell Helmstedter

    Dan, I always appreciate your blog. In fact, I owe a lot of my first semester of student teaching to you. That being said, take this council for what it is. It is indeed well-meant. I’m sure that your blog when you started it was well-meant, along with multiple posts that you have since recanted (good learning begins with a good worksheet comes to mind). But just because it is a self-regarding and frustrating experience at the time, doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. It may not be refined and a finished product, but we need to start somewhere. Please, for my sake, and many many others I’m sure, continue to publish your piece and make that council of 39 better because of it. I’m not saying you’re perfect and the council is wrong, but isn’t it a great thing to be able to have the conversation?

  3. on 25 Jun 2013 at 8:59 pmJonathan Claydon

    “One thousand math teachers will start one thousand new blogs and one thousand new Twitter accounts tomorrow and they will be totally unaware that this conversation ever happened. They will be completely unaware of our corporate resolutions here.”

    For similar reasons this is why Promethean is unaware their products aren’t as amazing as they think, why Apple/Google keep highlighting the wrong things about tech in education, and why the average first year teacher will turn to a textbook for guidance.

    This group is small. Smaller than you think. We can spend time discussing procedures and pointing out problems, or continue to find the quality work being done and share it as best as we are able.

    “I blogged like no one was reading. Bloggers come and go. The bloggers that have stayed all seem to recommend this.”

    Best advice in the world. I started writing because I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted to read. It’s lead to a hundred discoveries I write about to remember later. The person that should benefit the most from your website/twitter feed is you.

  4. on 25 Jun 2013 at 9:09 pmJohn Stevens

    As a teacher who has been looking for a push, stumbling onto your blog and 3-Act math tasks gave me the push that was necessary. I am forever grateful for your contributions, as well as other progressive math educators out there who continue to share their ideas and reply to comments & posts.

    I understand parts of your frustration with the collaborative effort, but not all of it. Opening up the document for everyone to see gave me an insight that I needed to start looking outside of the US and into what other people around the world are doing in their math classrooms. It has given new teachers a chance to have a voice. It has shown us that we are not alone in our thinking about the way that our conversations are being held.

    When Chris posted the document, plenty of people joined in, lurked in, or favorited it for later. There is something to be said for an opportunity to have a voice.

  5. on 25 Jun 2013 at 9:27 pmG Taylor

    Going to disagree on a couple of points:
    -”I’m uncomfortable with how concerned we are with the right ways to tweet, blog, collaborate, and socialize online.”

    I don’t think it’s a matter of being concerned with the ‘right’ way, so much as the ‘most effective’ way… or perhaps the ‘less ineffective’ way. Randomly tweeting out a link is not very effective. Those who stick with it will probably realize this. But there are others who may give up after enough times of doing that. Leaving them out of the discussion simply because “they couldn’t figure it out” seems akin to failing a student without ever showing them what they’re doing wrong.

    Of course, the tradeoff is that we do end up explaining the problem, without letting that student discover a solution on their own. At least at first. Is it worth it? Maybe, maybe not.

    -”The resolutions we make as a group here won’t matter at all. They won’t have any effect on the community of which we’re one small particle.”

    I take exception to this. To expand the scope: It doesn’t matter what we do here on Earth, it won’t have any effect on the universe of which we’re one small particle. Okay… while that’s technically correct, it ignores the fact that if I give someone a hug tomorrow, that MATTERS to them. (Perhaps for differing reasons, depending on if they know who I am, but anyway.) Just because something might only affect a select group, or individual, isn’t an argument against doing it. If anything it’s an argument for the very personal element you then highlight.

    What if the blogger and tweeter I want to be is someone who makes blogging and tweeting better for other people? Perhaps that goal winds up being more misguided than helpful, depending on how I go about it, but I’d like to think it still matters.

    I suspect part of your frustration might stem from the way you framed this remark: “They will be completely unaware of our corporate resolutions here.” As if, by even having this gathering, the social atmosphere suddenly became a corporation (or dictatorship?), crafting ‘rules coming down from on high, and you must follow them to be successful!’ I didn’t see it as corporate, I saw it as collegial.

    Then again, I’m also the sort of person who will probably continue to do their own thing regardless of what someone tells me – barring a sensible explanation of how I could be doing it better. So in that respect, you’re right, nothing changes. That said, it still felt nice to see so many people out there who seemed concerned about the opinions and well being of others.

  6. on 25 Jun 2013 at 9:48 pmJustin Lanier

    I appreciate the advice and ethic that you share above. And I super-appreciate everything you do to help build up community around teaching math and your great ideas about how to do so.

    However, I feel that you’ve been really ungenerous in your opening paragraphs about the Global Math Department session. What I experienced there didn’t sound like Making Decisions, but rather some people facing tough questions with a lot of thoughtfulness and goodwill. I didn’t see any High Council, but rather some people trying to talk through their understanding of this enormous and enormously-complex online math ed community, as well as how they personally do and would like to interact with it. I saw folks who have been around for a while and people who are newer dialoguing and feeling heard.

    Maybe some amazing things will come out of that conversation. Maybe nothing much will. But Chris asked some great questions and people came up with lots of thoughts to share about them. No one was trying to delineate the “right ways” to interact online. For crying out loud, it was a conversation that was centered around helping people feel more welcome and comfortable joining in whenever and however possible.

    You are certainly allowed your genuine feelings of irritation and frustration. But that session did some good for the people who were there. It gave me a lot of food for thought. It got you to write a blog post that’s 5/6 awesome. And you know what? Afterwards @jlpaulen wrote, “even just attending globalmath tonight made me feel like I was more a part of the community and helped me feel more comfortable participating.” How can you be so bothered by a small slice of the online math world trying to figure some things out for themselves by talking together?

  7. on 26 Jun 2013 at 2:47 amAndy Mitchell

    Don’t worry, Dan. I was one of the 39, and I have no interest in world domination.

  8. on 26 Jun 2013 at 5:24 amDan Meyer

    G Taylor:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of being concerned with the ‘right’ way, so much as the ‘most effective’ way … or perhaps the ‘less ineffective’ way.

    Justin Lanier:

    But Chris asked some great questions and people came up with lots of thoughts to share about them. No one was trying to delineate the “right ways” to interact online.

    Here are some of the conversation starters. These and others implied to me a “right” way to interact online, a Platonic #MTB. (The word “should” is a big signal.)

    What should the MTBoS 2.0 look like?

    Is the MTBoS leaning towards becoming a consumption and sharing resource, and not towards a creative collaboration of new materials / ideas / etc.?

    Is there too much agreement in the MTBoS, and not enough ‘pushback’?

    Is there an issue with the number of blog post comments we’re receiving?

    Does the MTBoS have enough of an elementary math teacher presence?

    What should a newcomer be doing to contribute to the MTBoS?

    These questions (and many of their answers) implied a right way to be a part of a community that is vast and sprawling enough to accept anybody regardless of whether they just want to consume existing resources or create new ones or if they want to comment or just post, or etc. These questions don’t capture the myriad ways people interact with each other other online and the myriad purposes they have for those interactions.

    There’s even a sub-conversation about the right number of Twitter followers one should have! Why is it too much to enjoy the fact that people get value from Twitter and add value to Twitter in vastly different ways? That surprise is one reason I love my community online. That surprise has a huge advantage over the faculty lounge.

    Justin Lanier:

    For crying out loud, it was a conversation that was centered around helping people feel more welcome and comfortable joining in whenever and however possible.

    Seriously, I appreciate the intent. But I’d ask you to see the question, “What should a newcomer be doing to contribute to the MTBoS?” from the eyes of a newcomer. How does that newcomer not feel like there are tacit expectations for her contributions and interactions? How is that a welcoming question?

    Imagine another question and the welcoming, expansive, interesting conversation that might have resulted:

    “What are all the ways a newcomer can contribute to the MTB?”

  9. on 26 Jun 2013 at 6:17 amMarshall Thompson

    For the record, I learned the acronym FFS from @ddmeyer.

    Just sayin’.

  10. on 26 Jun 2013 at 8:39 amKate Nowak

    I am totally fine with the title “high priestess”.

    Despite the discussion over whether and how to have this discussion, which is important in itself… there is some seriously excellent advice in this post. Both the overall encouragement to behave the way you would like for people to behave, and Dan’s examples of how that has informed his own behaviors. I’ve learned an awful lot about how to be in the virtual world by watching Dan, and all of these resonated for me.

  11. on 26 Jun 2013 at 10:28 amBrandon Dean Price

    As a newcomer, I was pretty unaware of this (summit/conference/party). But looking through the google doc, I loved the question of whether the big players had formed a clique.

    If anything, #MTBoS is cliquey towards people who are CONSTANTLY CHECKING EVERYTHING. You guys know the NBA playoffs eat up springtime right?

  12. on 26 Jun 2013 at 10:33 amMegan Hayes-Golding

    I’m loving the debate this Lunch Table conversation has opened up.

    Dan:

    The resolutions we make as a group here won’t matter at all. They won’t have any effect on the community of which we’re one small particle. But the resolutions we make personally matter enormously – whether you’re read by two people or two hundred or two million.

    I disagree but G Taylor explains it far more eloquently than I can.

    G Taylor:

    if I give someone a hug tomorrow, that MATTERS to them…Just because something might only affect a select group, or individual, isn’t an argument against doing it.

    The Lunch Table conversation is less about changing course of a huge (and not at all monolithic) community of math teachers. Rather, I see it as giving everyone a place at the table to share their ideas without feeling like they’re too new to the community to possibly have anything to contribute.

    Justin also offered that he didn’t see any High Council at the GMD meeting last night. Me neither.

    My favorite part of last night’s Lunch Table conversation was when relative newcomers to the MTBoS heard the stories from the Old Geezers about how we got started contributing.

    I’m gonna go with this lunch table metaphor: You’ve gotta admit there’s a cool kids treatment given to some of the more established bloggers/tweeters in our community. Respect that’s well-earned but I think it creates a barrier that holds the newbies back. I wanna break down the cool kid / new kid roles and see a more egalitarian community.

    Now, it’s easy to tell the new kids to just jump in on conversations, to comment on blogs. However (and I’ve heard this over and over), there’s a social anxiety among the newer folks that holds them back. Some have broken through, sure. But I think others just need a little push — something last night’s conversation probably provided.

    Less High Council and more Ambassador-to-New-Kids.

    Dan’s advice about being yourself while contributing is excellent. Two of my favorites of his are the highlighted comments and the great classroom action posts. Both help me get to know new people, whom I often seek out on Twitter.

  13. on 26 Jun 2013 at 10:36 amMegan Hayes-Golding

    Oh and I just wanted to add that I agree with Kate 100% that Dan offers some amazing advice here.

  14. on 26 Jun 2013 at 11:23 amChris Robinson

    Dan:

    First off, thanks for dropping in last night to the discussion. I, as well as many others, respect what you’re doing to push math education forward and appreciate your opinions, even when we don’t completely agree with them. I’d like to explain my intent for the discussion, as well as comment on some of the things you mentioned in this post.

    The impetus for putting this discussion together was several conversations that I was part of over the last couple weeks with newcomers to the mathtwitterblogosphere who expressed concern about “fitting in” and having their contributions noticed. There was also some consternation about the feedback they had been receiving regarding their efforts. In short, there was some frustration floating around in the MTBoS. I can relate to this feeling of frustration, as I’ve experienced it as well throughout my tenure in this community. I’d hate to lose the benefits we receive from every member that feels welcome and a part of this great thing we have, and that sentiment was echoed by others, so I decided to formalize the Twitter conversations into last night’s Global Math Department meeting.

    As for the idea of driving the MTBoS forward and envisioning what it might look like next week, next month, or next year, that was mostly my own doing. I have a vision of an online community that comes together to collaborate on creating (together) new and exciting resources and ideas. I feel that is somewhat missing in the current state of the MTBoS, and I know from fleeting conversations that others feel this way as well. I’ve mentioned in the past that this might not be what the MTBoS is good at doing with the limitations of the media, or even supposed to be its purpose. And that’s fine, because it is a great resource as it stands.

    Let me address of a couple of your comments:

    This conversation might be ineffective but it might also do some harm. I’m uncomfortable with how concerned we are with the right ways to tweet, blog, collaborate, and socialize online.

    I don’t fell that I pushed any particular “right” way to blog, tweet, or interact. I’m not pontificating for a standard procedure that must be followed to be a part of the MTBoS. Nor am I calling for all members to do anymore than they want to get what they want out of the community. If my choice of words (i.e. “should”) made it appear that way, than that’s on me. In fact, I think I tried to make this intent explicit by disclaiming that I had no answers, only opinions, and that the forum was for a sharing of ideas. That’s what I envisioned when I set up the format of the discussion.

    The resolutions we make as a group here won’t matter at all. They won’t have any effect on the community of which we’re one small particle. But the resolutions we make personally matter enormously – whether you’re read by two people or two hundred or two million.

    I disagree here with the premise that we can’t make a change in our community. And by community, I mean those that want to see change happen. There is no mandate that requires anyone to take part in something they’re not interested in seeing happen. I understand that I am a very minute part of a much larger thing, Unlike a corporation that is driven by its leaders, the MTBoS has the envious position of being able to create the change it wants to see happen. However, if the conversation about these sorts of things never happens, than the critical reflection doesn’t take place and changes can’t be made that might need or want to be made.

    With that being said, I think there were more positive discussions that came out of last night’s forum than animosity. We got the chance to hear about the experiences of some that have been a MTBoS member for some time, and we got to hear some new voices that we might not have otherwise had the chance to hear. Concerns were voiced and were heard. A tremendous conversation about the MTBoS took place, and is still taking place. If I had to hold that same forum tonight, I’d do it without hesitation.

    I just might have my wording edited for intent.

    Thanks for the pushback. I think this has been an interesting experience for all.

    (@absvalteaching)

  15. on 26 Jun 2013 at 12:38 pmAllison Krasnow

    If I were asked what’s the first word that comes to my head after reading this post, I’d say, “Thanks.”

    Why?

    Because I feel like what is amazing about this community is how open it has been to newcomers. I completely understand Megan’s sentiment around ‘Ambassador-to-New-Kids” but from my own experience the welcoming nature of the cool kids of this community has been striking to me. I have gotten my toes wet in blogging/twittering, but never stayed consistent. I constantly wish I did and would like to make staying connected more of a priority. BUT…each time I have stuck my feet in, I have realized that the cool kids are only that because they have stayed consistently involved when I have not. The first time I ever used daily desmos in my classroom I became a 1-hit wonder on twitter (for at least 30 seconds) after Justin Lanier tracked me down. Over and over again, I have been struck by how included I have been made to feel to this community even though my blog/twitter/comments are fewer and more far between than I wish they were.

    So…thanks.

  16. on 26 Jun 2013 at 12:57 pmTom

    This, to me, is a very strange discussion. I can’t shake the ridiculous notion that someone(? some people? organization?) is trying to make rules for Twitter. Then I laugh.

    Then I get concerned that the MTBoS is going to be my next professional development hell – where someone (who my school pays to bring in) talks at me for a couple hours about blogging and tweeting and how it is a super organized PLC that had a big “State of” discussion and is something that must be done and must be done the correct way.

    Dan, I believe you said it best: There isn’t a “right way” to do the Internet.

    As for the number of people participating and the scope… Something I did a few months ago was take advantage of Fawn’s Google reader list and added all 208 blogs into my feeder. Some blogs have long since passed on, but I went from reading everything in my feeder everyday to maybe getting 5% read. And that’s okay because I can pick and choose and it encourages me to comment b/c its a big world out there and every blog post benefits from discussion. Case in point, I’m rewriting a unit based on a discussion I had recently on one of my posts with another blogger.

    But because of that 208-blog list, I haven’t really made a big effort to find new blogs. And certainly there are many I might be missing out. And I think that’s where Twitter fails and comments on blogs succeed. I’ve only been blogging for 1 year (woah! More like 14 months… I probably should have blogged on that or something). I don’t get a TON of comments, but whenever I do I head over to that person’s blog and read a ton and learn a ton and make sure they’re in my aggregator. So, I think that’s a big deal: Twitter is great, but if you miss something you miss it. It’s tough to miss a comment on your own blog, or another’s if you’ve made a comment on it.

    That was a pretty disjointed comment, but I feel it’s a disjointed discussion, so, yeah :)

  17. on 26 Jun 2013 at 7:47 pmDan Meyer

    Chris Robinson, taking on more blame for all of this than he should:

    I have a vision of an online community that comes together to collaborate on creating (together) new and exciting resources and ideas. I feel that is somewhat missing in the current state of the MTBoS, and I know from fleeting conversations that others feel this way as well.

    Real quick: we’re talking about the math twitter blogosphere, right? The same one that’s cranking out awesome projects and resource sites seemingly by the day?

    Assuming you’ve got something other than that in mind when you say “creating new and exciting resources and ideas,” I’m having a hard time understanding the call to action here. Rather than saying, “I want to set up a project site, who’s in?” (ie. being the change you want to see in the MTB) we asked last night “Are we consuming too many resources and not creating enough?” (ie. asking others to be the change you want to see in the MTB).

    (It’s clear I’m convincing nobody of that distinction who wasn’t convinced the first time around.)

    Whatever’s inside your head has gotta be pretty grand, Chris, so I hope you find some collaborators and set it up. But if someone is thrilled just tweeting once every second Thursday and consuming every last resource around, let’s not put an ounce of moral judgment on that decision.

  18. on 27 Jun 2013 at 12:36 amNik

    (Full disclosure – I was not there at the above meeting. I would have been if I could because I think it was important but not necessary. But I have watched it back)

    Dan,

    I don’t know what you intended with your post, but it seems to me that what *is* an excellent statement about writing has got lost in what you wrote at the start about how 39 people were doing the MTBoS wrong. I wonder how many people read your blog post, never followed the links, and went away thinking ‘Those bar stewards in the High Council, how dare they tell me how to internet’. Rather than going away thinking – ‘There’s a lot of good advice about starting/continuing blogging in that post’.

    In terms of the twitter discussion:

    One of the questions I get asked a lot when people start on Twitter (and, newbie though I am, I get asked by people in the UK a lot!) is how many people to follow. If I’m being asked that question, people want an answer. Isn’t a discussion of what answer we think best to give to questions like this important?

    I think that you were right Dan, to be concerned that the discussion could come across as pompous, but I also think that potentially, your posts and the ensuing comments (for which you can’t be blamed – obviously) have done more hurt than that discussion could. Because your blog (rightly so IMO) has a lot of ‘weight’ in the online blogger community it is unsurprising that people may make value judgements based on your post without even considering the facts that are there. Right now I can easily see a newcomer (or anyone with an idea) with an idea to ‘set up a project site, who’s in?’ reading this blog post and thinking “No way my idea is worth it – if Dan doesn’t agree he’ll call me out and the internet will hate me.”

    Great food for thought as always,

    Nik

  19. on 27 Jun 2013 at 5:40 amTom

    Nik,

    I can appreciate that concern. Let me offer the opposing experience. I did click through to the links and it WAS the Google Doc that rubbed me very much the wrong way. I wasn’t kidding – when I saw that Google Doc I thought of every bad professional development experience I had, even though there were the basis for some good discussions. I was definitely rubbed the wrong (maybe wrong isn’t the best word here) way with the “should” word choice that Dan has described. (This isn’t to say those aren’t good discussions to have and good comments were made. I hope that is clear.)

    And I think there’s a consensus bubbling up that there maybe should be a concern with making new members more visible or more willing to jump in head first. I think that happens naturally with people that put in the time and effort. I look at someone like Sarah Hagan (http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/) that has become an all-star in a relatively short time – about a year and a half – and has really made me think about and try foldables among other things.

    Last year’s summer blogging initiation was great and a way for vets to welcome in n00bs. I missed the deadline to get involved, but I was reading more new blogs than ever before. I certainly hope that there’s another blogging initiative at the end of this summer – that’s the kind of thing I could get behind the High Order of Esteemed Math Blogger and Twitterers on.

  20. on 27 Jun 2013 at 6:33 amChris Robinson

    Tom:

    I hesitate to ask, but have you listened to the webinar discussion? Judgements made without the complete context can be dangerous.

    And to be clear, I love professional development experiences that encourage the sharing of ideas and critical reflection, which is the intent of the GDoc.

    We can argue about my semantics, particularly the use of should vs. could, but I don’t feel that’s necessary as 99% of the 1% of the MTBoS that attended seemed to understand my intent.

    Thanks for your opinion.

  21. [...] There have been some heated discussions lately online (on blogs, on twitter, on email) around a post that Dan Meyer wrote about the Global Math Department session called “Choose Your Lunch Table: A Warmer [...]

  22. on 27 Jun 2013 at 5:47 pmTom

    I have listened to the discussion. I would first say that I don’t think the difference between “should” and “could” is just semantics. There’s a crucial difference there. Also, please understand that I am not criticizing well-meaning ideas and questions, rather the notion that something needs to be fixed or there’s a right or wrong way to blog.

    I’m having trouble concisely and accurately conveying my view on this, but here’s my best attempt.

    There SHOULDN’T be a defined place to go. It should be a free and open place where teachers collaborate. As such, I found the conversation, while well-intentioned and valuable itself, seemed to be grounded in this idea that there was some fixing that needed to be done – specifically the 2.0 comment.

    Again, there are great discussions to have, but like I said, the day that I have to sit through a PD where someone tells me the right and wrong way to blog is the day I am done blogging (or with PD :p). I’m not saying that was this, but maybe I’m just a little too worried that may be a future.

    I think these discussions can continue to be had, but maybe in a more open manner? Maybe that’s what’s rubbing me the wrong way. This seemed to be some collection of people – as you admit yourself a very small percentage – defining something that I question whether needs defining. For example, I didn’t even know this thing was happening, I didn’t even know there was a #MTBoS chat. And I’m pretty active in my writing and reading of blogs. So maybe I’m a little biased in the sense that I don’t use Twitter as much as it seems many are.

    Thanks though for rolling with my, perhaps not the most well-conveyed, thoughts. :)

  23. on 27 Jun 2013 at 6:36 pmDanielle Metzler

    Dear Dan,
    I really appreciate that you’ve addressed the ethics of our blogosphere as a profession. It’s the first time that I’ve read something so comprehensive. I’m an elementary school teacher, and your post has inspired me to keep going with blogging. I’m a very new blogger, just started this summer, and I started because I want to contribute if possible to this wonderful new world I’ve stumbled upon of networking professionals passionate about the field of teaching. I marvel at the natural evolution of such an ethic and agree on every point. Even if new bloggers “will be totally unaware that this conversation ever happened,” I think we can be confident that most teachers, being people who strive for excellence and to model the kind of ethics we want to cultivate in our students, that the newcomers will come to some understanding of this on their own. I had some version of this in mind, and I appreciate that someone was able to voice it for me!
    Thanks. DM

  24. [...] I read Dan Meyer’s response. [...]

  25. on 28 Jun 2013 at 9:41 amcheesemonkeysf

    I just want to say this: I experience the MTBoS as a giant, global, come-as-you-are party.

    I try to bring my best self forward in it when I show up, though I’m not always successful at that. I try to assume that everybody else who shows up is trying to do the same thing too.

    It seems to me that, with so many diverse participants and interests, any ideas about future direction are destined to be purely aspirational at best. And so in that spirit, my greatest hope for the MTBoS is that we can be and remain unconditionally constructive.

    - Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)

  26. on 28 Jun 2013 at 3:23 pmTravis

    It’s all good. People are inspired. Sometimes they like pointers, sometimes they don’t. I even sometimes feel 3acts is a sort of ‘prescription’ of how to do it right, especially when whole tasks from textbooks are rewritten. And then I realize: sure it’s a bit evangelical, like tweet advices and ‘best practices’ but I can think for myself. Many people provide valuable blogs and posts, comments, praise, critique. In the end I decide what I take in or not.

  27. on 28 Jun 2013 at 6:23 pmChris Robinson

    Dan and Tom:

    I made some editorial changes to the MTBoS GDoc to reflect my intentions. I also kept the original wording. Thanks for the pushback, it was definitely a learning experience for myself.

  28. on 28 Jun 2013 at 6:31 pmSean Sweeney

    I have a number of thoughts on this, but I’m going to stick to one for this comment. A group of us, or even an individual is NOT insignificant. You, Kate, Sam and others have, as individuals, made a major difference to the online math world. When 40 of us met last year at TMC it had a significant effect on the blogging community as a whole through projects and blogposts that were a result of motivated math teachers meeting. Really, what many people love about the math community is that they don’t feel insignificant. Anyone can help others, share their resources, and it can have a real effect on other teachers in other schools throughout the world. Sure, people can’t sit around and create an edict about what must happen moving forward and expect anything to change(Though, really, do you think that’s what anyone is really trying to do?) People can(and already have), however, collaborate in groups to focus on certain topics with their blogs, encouraged certain things within the community or create projects which can all be really meaningful to others.

  29. [...] I love this advice and the other concrete suggestions in Dan Meyer’s recent post, The Gathering of The High Council of The Math Teacher Bloggers. And I’m thinking about how to take his advice more [...]

  30. on 29 Jun 2013 at 7:55 amDan Meyer

    Small groups like the GMD, small people like all of us, small projects like the Welcome to the MTB and the Global Math Department absolutely matter. They are worthwhile. I’m glad they exist. I’ve organized some of my own and pitched in on many others. I’m enjoying seeing the conversation unfold in Justin’s newcomer document. I’m excited to see whatever Chris and Nik are cooking up with their collaborative. I brag about you guys all the time.

    These projects have an effect on ourselves, at minimum. They define our character and our ethic. They also have an effect on the people around us in ways that are extremely significant. Strangers tell me at conferences how much the blogosphere has meant to their practice and their happiness. I don’t want to trivialize any of that.

    None of that contradicts any idea I was trying to convey earlier. I won’t restate those ideas here because I think they survive a close read.

    But I want say that I see how the title of this post, the tone of the first few paragraphs, along with whatever esteem this community has for me has had the cumulative effective of making some of you shocked and defensive, and in no position to give those ideas that close read. I am sorry for that, both because I’ve distracted the conversation from the 90% of this post that I actually care about but especially because I like you guys and your work and would never want you to feel small on my account.

  31. on 02 Jul 2013 at 12:22 pmJohn Scammell

    Dan, you say you try to answer all emails. Lately I’m getting ones asking me to link to their site from mine, or to endorse a book and things like that. If I get 2 a year, you must get 2 a day. How do you reply to those?

  32. on 02 Jul 2013 at 12:48 pmDan Meyer

    Eh. That’s just spam. I don’t pay it any mind.

  33. [...] Dan Meyer has written an excellent post on how math educators can blog and tweet (and there are over thirty quality comments there now, too), and I think it holds true for all edubloggers. [...]

  34. on 10 Aug 2013 at 1:45 pmMoniki

    Dear Dan,

    I know this topic is old news, but I’d dare to go out on a limb to offer a different perspective.
    I once had the painful experience of commenting on a well known and respected math blogger’s blog. I felt the recent blog of the idividual was unlike the previous ones in the sense that it wasn’t as grounded, practical and in general ‘useful’ as the others – sort of out of touch. I did mention the fact that I read all the others and put those strategies into place in my own classroom and was therefore forever thankful to the individual. I got an extremely snarky reply from the author, whereafter the author posted a snarky tweet, whereupon other ‘bigs’ appluaded her.
    I still feel a bit of fear/shame when I intent to comment, and mostly therefore let go of that intent. I know that I have not contributed anything to this community, except for the odd comment or two, so who am I to judge? The tweets also made that quite clear.
    I was of course not at the conference, so my inferences may be completely wrong (and please do not hesitate to correct me if they are) but somehow feel the intent of this conference may have been to discuss/ find solutions to these types of problems. Being socially inept most of my life (at school too ‘smart’, ‘weird’ and ‘liberal’ and at university too ‘big-breasted to study teaching’) I may have understood this entire MTboS wrong.

    Great pointers in your post, I will definitely return to them once I pluck up the courage to start my own blog.

    Thank you for your insights.

  35. on 11 Aug 2013 at 9:39 amKate Nowak

    So, that was me, and I owe Moniki an apology. I was and still am feeling self-conscious that anything I write is going to carry less weight since I’m not currently in a classroom. And your comment hit that anxiety like a bullseye. Honestly I thought my comment in response on the blog was very reasonable. But then I went, “waaaah, a stranger on the Internet was mean to me, I’m going to go whine on twitter where my friends will validate me.” If there /is/ a way to not do the mtbos, I found it. It was immature and unprofessional. I’m sorry.

  36. on 11 Aug 2013 at 10:06 amMoniki

    Dear Kate,

    Thank you for your response. I find it very gracious and courageous, and of great significance to me.

    Kind regards

  37. on 11 Aug 2013 at 12:48 pmDanielle Metzler

    This year, the director of my school opened the school year with a whole-school assembly by opening up a pinata. It was full of erasers. He then went on to talk about how mistakes and misunderstandings are inevitable for all kinds of reasons, but the real power we have is to try to fix them if and when they happen. This is a perfect example, and I so admire you both. :)

  38. […] how I feel about the exclusion of people of color in education anything, from Edublog Awards and the Math Twitter Blogosphere to the Bammys and every ed-tech conference I’ve been, I’ve been invited to, and / or […]

  39. […] Dan Meyer […]