This week, at the MCTM conference in Duluth, I had the pleasure of listening to Sara VanDerWerf. She was advocating for something I already now believe in- the power of teaching, twitter and the MTBoS. She made the statement: “Many of you expressed you wanted different opportunities to connect and collaborate with your peers, Twitter is that opportunity.” While I now totally agree with this statement, there were many years that I did not, and this post is about the reasons why.
When I am in my classroom, there is no second-guessing what I do or how I have planned out the day. I am ready for any challenge presented to me by my students- in fact I welcome it. I believe that I have created great experiences for students to experience, discover and learn math. I do not worry when my administrator drops by for a visit- they typically are impressed with what happens in my room (especially since I have had 8 different administrators within the 12 years I have been teaching). As every teacher does, you start to collect a variety of go-to lessons that begin to define your curriculum. These involve activities that inspire students, create wonder, contain great mathematics and ignite heated discussions. I needed a place to start to store these gems- something other than the behemoth of filing cabinets I see in my peer’s rooms. I have always been a techie, I wanted to store my ideas someplace that wasn’t physically limiting (especially when it comes that time to change jobs). That is when I first started to think of the internet as a place other than my vast resource for ideas- but rather a place to store my ideas.
I began to creep as my students would say. I started visiting blogs, devouring ideas and manipulating them into something I could use for my classroom. I used those blogs to find others- until I had this big web of sites I visited weekly, and some daily. I found myself connecting to many posts and responders- suddenly for the first time I began to feel that I was not alone on my classroom island (I worked at a school where I was the only mathematics teacher at that level, and vertical discussion of practices or curriculum was not met with enthusiasm). I wrote my first blog, about linear equations, and it wasn’t very good. I shouldn’t have been disappointed, it was written for me- having anyone else discover it would be a bonus (so to say). Still when putting yourself out there publicly, it’s hard to not focus on what happens publicly (or lack thereof). I just focused on my students and classroom and let the beast that is the MTBoS lie.
It wasn’t until I read Dan’s post, Why Do You Blog: Then Vs. Now?, that I starting thinking about why I took that first step into the MTBoS. I wanted to not only make an online resource for myself, but I wanted to reach beyond my physical locale- I wanted to find other teachers who were in similar belief and what they were doing to be successful. Dan and a colleague, Dana Woods, started me blogging again, and for this I am very grateful. Every time I post I have this nagging fear of how my posts will be received, I have come to respect you all and rely on you guys- and to that end I do not want to disappoint you in ridiculous blather. On the flip side, I really wish you all to read this and provide me with input, ways to make me a better teacher for my students.
Currently, I feel that I may be slightly adrift with my blogs, that there are many focal points that interest me at this time. I also feel like I haven’t been able to fully devote myself to my reflectional blog, but that comes with taking on a new position at a new school district. BUT I have met a lot of great, supportive people on the MTBoS, and consider you all friends. You have pushed me to grow in a way I never did before I discovered this community. I continue to grow with you, and you never cease to create a smile when I roll through tweets.
To this day, I am still hesitant to share with others my twitter handle or blog address, I still am intimidated with the thought that others may wonder what the heck I am thinking with my ideas- but I know that this community has allowed me to expand my MTBoS voice while challenging me to improve myself professionally in a way that no other PLC could. Thank you.