I don’t have any answers here. I can only do my best to articulate the question.
The collection of tweeting and blogging math teachers we call the Math Twitter Blogosphere confuses me.
Look at this place.
- It has a welcoming committee that organizes challenges to help new members find their feet. It also pairs volunteer newcomers with volunteer mentors. (Shout out to my mentee Lisa Garcia.)
- It comprises thousands of blogs and Twitter accounts. Two weekly gazettes exist just to summarize the activity. (That first link is, without exception, the most valuable post of whatever week it’s published.)
- It organizes weekly webinars with speakers and topics running across every spectrum.
- It organizes an annual in-person conference, which sold out in two weeks last year and in eight hours this year.
- 2016 Feb 12. It has maintained a physical booth presence at three of the last four National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ conferences, staffed round-the-clock by volunteers.
It bears saying again: these are all volunteer efforts and self-organized.
Someone has to help me. Does the same organization and activity exist in other content areas?
It's long been my hunch that math educators have captured the best of social media and connecting. Good stuff here. https://t.co/GJ6OWdE61C
— Jenn Borgioli Binis (@JennBinis) December 2, 2015
If not, then why not? Each of the efforts above boasts some talented contributors – shout outs to Lisa Henry, Julie Reulbach, Sam Shah, Raymond Johnson, Tina Cardone, and the communities they lead – but I find it hard to believe similarly talented people don’t exist in other content areas. If you had to go back in time and bet that one group of teacher bloggers would break out in these amazing spasms of collaboration, admit that math teachers wouldn’t have been your first or second guess.
So how did this happen?
I don’t get it. I love it but I don’t get it.
2016 Feb 11. Helpful data? Googling “[x] teaching blog,” I find in millions of results:
- Math: 33.9.
- English: 115
- Science: 129
- History: 73.1
- Art: 88.9
- Language: 91.3
- Social Studies: 53.8
Quality, not quantity.
@ddmeyer That's quite an undertaking. No other subject area has conquered the internet like math teachers have.
— Jennifer Orr (@jenorr) February 12, 2016
@ddmeyer My theory is, the average math teacher teaches very few multi-day projects. So each day is a new lesson, compared to SS or English+
— Kent Haines (@KentHaines) February 15, 2016
I think of all the disciplines, math teachers are frustrated most with status quo. Personally, I want to change my practice, but on my own have struggled figuring out how to teach differently than I was taught. I don’t have a blog of my own (yet) but have grown so much by blogs I’ve found via Pinterest, Twitter, and google searches.
I think that curriculum is a huge part. Almost all secondary math curricula include the same topics. There is much greater variation in what states and districts require for social studies or even science. Different required texts for English classes.
In my own district, I found it hard to find anyone with much of a passion for trying new things…those who truly wish to invest the time for self-improvement. I sometimes wonder if some of my math colleagues even really like math. I certainly don’t get that vibe from the science teachers or the English teachers. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to this community. It is out of necessity in order to find those who are equally passionate.
But after a very few years, the group collapsed. Traffic stopped in the edWeb community, and the in-person meeting which had peaked at about 20+ people gradually shrank.
I think the fact that edWeb was a closed community, with formal membership was a fatal mistake. MTBoS is totally open.