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reflection

RIP-BoS: A Tribute to the Math-Twitter Blog-O-Sphere

When I was a first year teacher, the teachers in my province went on strike for two days. It was on the first of those two days that I signed up for Twitter in order to follow public opinion on the job action. It was only days later that–by accident–I found math teacher Twitter, and the Math-Twitter Blog-O-Sphere (or MTBoS, for short) quickly became the self-organized space filled with ideas, insight, resources, and support that set the trajectory for my career.

The MTBoS gave me a forum to grow and provided outlets that found my ideas valuable. I routinely chatted with some of my idols; now they recognize me at conferences, collaborate with me on projects, and invite me to speak to teachers in their parts of the world. All of that still blows my mind.

For may reasons, that space is not what it used to be, but many of the influential characters have moved away from the classroom in pursuit of consultant opportunities, book deals, corporate edu work, or tenure track passions1 It’s been interesting to watch the dendrites of influence flow out from the conglomeration of folks we called the MTBoS, and I believe it’s done great things for mathematics education.

I stumbled upon the MTBoS in its infancy and held on well past its expiration date. Simply: I’m not the teacher I am today without it.

So why post this now? Well, first, I just returned from walking a picket line as my colleagues and I (for the second time in my career) strike for better funding for our public education system. The symmetry felt cute. Second, after returning home, I saw a notification that a new app, Bluesky, no longer requires invitation codes, and some from the old MTBoS community are starting a rally cry to reconstitute on that platform. Third, this week the MTBoS provided one of my students with dignity and it reminded me (again) of how potent the community has been over the years.

You see, this week I got a new student who just arrived in Canada from a country experiencing extreme civil unrest. Remarkably, he has retained his youthful exuberance; his eyes flicker with an infectious curiosity. He wants to learn, but he only speaks Arabic–like only Arabic. It has been a long while since I have wanted to do so much for a student but have been so woefully ill-equipped to do so. All our communication needs to take place via a translator app, and there are 30+ others in the class.

I needed to start somewhere and so I followed my well-rehearsed reflex and asked the MTBoS. Several people responded (within the hour) with Arabic resources, and I am now on my way to building some experiences that he can be proud of.

The second day he was in my class, he typed (in Arabic) into his translator and hit enter. In English, the screen read: “I’m sorry I’m inconvenient”. The MTBoS is helping me to rewrite that sentiment. That matters.

We are better together, and the spaces that allow us to do that are important. So thanks for everything, MTBoS.

NatBanting

  1. .I barely escaped a brush with academia myself–but the PhD call from the ivory tower couldn’t quite pull me from the hustle and bustle of the classroom.

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