Long Live the #MTBoS!

Dan Meyer is calling for the retirement of the hashtag #MTBoS. He’s suggesting and going with #iteachmath or #iteachmaths instead.

I get it. I get it that #iteachmath means I TEACH MATH. I get it that #MTBoS could mean anything. I get it that Dan’s intention is no more than to simply make the math community more inviting and inclusive. After all, Dan is among the first handful of math bloggers who helped transform my teaching, and he continues to inspire and challenge my craft. I’m grateful for Dan’s work.

What I don’t get is folks saying #MTBoS is exclusive and alienating and cliquish.

This kind of statement actually hurts my feelings, like someone just said something negative about my children without ever having met them. I feel hurt and insulted because the #MTBoS that I am grateful to be a part of and the people who are in it are anything but “alienating” and “cliquish.”

That’s because I know of the ENORMOUS amount of TIME, WORK, and LOVE that had been poured into making #MTBoS what it is today.

Don’t know what #MTBoS is? Please start here: https://exploremtbos.wordpress.com.

When you’re done there, please see here: http://www.fishing4tech.com/mtbos.html.

It takes ONE click to learn what #MTBoS is.

Anna Vance’s tweet exactly expresses how I feel.


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  1. Posted July 27, 2017 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Great post Fawn. I created this video https://youtu.be/AIZOGCuFuas to introduce new people to the #mtbos, knowing that both how to use twitter and the particular meaning of the hashtag create barriers. Hashtags, twitter chats, tagging people, all have norms to figure out.

    You make a compelling case that a “better welcome mat” is likely to have the desired impact on inclusiveness than changing the hashtag. Would love your thoughts on whether this video fits the bill.

    • Fawn
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much, Jason, for making and sharing the video, and of course thanks to everyone in the video for sharing their ideas what #MTBoS is. If someone truly wanted to learn more about #MTBoS, the answers are there. The welcome mat has always been there, and we can all make it better by using it, promoting it, contributing to it, supporting it.

  2. Julie Morgan
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    I think part of the reason I found it alienating and cliquish is that when starting out with #mtbos I followed people who were using the # a lot. These are people who know each other personally and have built relationships. My timeline was then filled with personal chat so it felt like I was reading about a special club. I’m sure none of this is intentional but it can be intimidating.
    It is difficult to break into that especially when my #mtbos tweets often went unanswered.
    I ended up concentrating in building online relationships with more local Twitter folk.
    Honestly though I don’t think the # is the issue.

    • Rose Roberts
      Posted July 28, 2017 at 4:33 am | Permalink

      I agree completely with Julie. I don’t think any of the newer members of the community feel purposefully left out, but it has taken a long time, reading a lot of tweets where people obviously are friends, and a lot of unanswered tweets to feel like I’m a part of the community.

      I don’t think changing the hashtag will change that though.

      • Sadie
        Posted July 28, 2017 at 4:55 am | Permalink

        I support Julia and Rose in this one. My colleagues and I have attended NCTM for three years in a row and have been wildly impressed with the work a lot of #MTbos folks have done but consistently our tweets go unanswered (one colleague in particular has tried to become a part of he conversation but no one ever replies). It feels like it is now a group of math teaching friends and no longer (or maybe it never was) about teachers connecting with teachers. There are #MTbos superstars and with that comes an awareness that some of us are not. Please let it go and make a conscious choice to invite others in.

        • Fawn
          Posted July 31, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          Hi Sadie. Thank you for dropping in. “Please let it go and make a conscious choice to invite others in.” I’m sorry that all the hard work that folks have done to be inclusive, such as the first link I’d posted (https://exploremtbos.wordpress.com/) — and this is just one of MANY resources — is not considered an invite, then I don’t know what is. I can’t imagine any tweet going unanswered if someone in #MTBoS (or not) is tagged.

      • Fawn
        Posted July 31, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, Rose. Welcome to #MTBoS. You dropped by to read my blog and left a comment, and I thank you. I did this for YEARS before starting my own blog in late 2011. I didn’t join Twitter until some 4 months later. I expected nothing because no one owed me anything. I contributed and was always grateful for any feedback. No feedback meant no feedback, it didn’t mean anything more to me, honestly. Twitter takes time, and I respect other people’s time as I do mine.

    • Ben Morris
      Posted July 29, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      I have definitely had tweets not answered when using the #. However, when I @ any of them, I get a response, whether that’s Dan, Fawm, Andrew, or any of the others. I was (am?) definitely intimidated, but that’s only due to my insecurities. I think that with an explicit outreach on the part of anyone #MTBoS, this will be solved.

      • Posted July 30, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        I have had the same experience. I realize now that I have been focusing on building my relationship with the MTBoS itself rather than the hashtag. I seldom include the hashtag itself… in fact, I have made more connections with other teachers through commenting on blogs than on Twitter. But when I do use Twitter, it is usually to contact someone else directly, or to join a specific thread. Building relationships takes time and effort on my part.

        • Fawn
          Posted July 31, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          Hello Doug. Thank you for this: “Building relationships takes time and effort on my part.”

      • Fawn
        Posted July 31, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, Ben. I’d mentioned the same to other commenters regarding their unanswered tweets. Thank you so much for reaching out and being a part of us! #strongertogether

    • Fawn
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Hi Julie. Many of us regard #MTBoS as our math family, so yes, it’s personal, and our conversations may reflect that. There are so many reasons why a #MTBoS tweet may go unanswered. When I first started tweeting, I tagged certain people who may help me retweet my question or refer me to someone who might know the answer. I was a blog reader and lurker for YEARS and only joined Twitter after blogging for 4 months. Thank you for dropping in, Julie.

  3. Björn Beling
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    From an international perspective, I’d dump the #MTBoS hashtag for something more catchy. I’m truly grateful for all the inspiration that I’ve got since I started following MTBoS, and lots of ideas have had a wonderful impact on my teaching. But still, Julie’s thoughts are mine exactly. A lot of what appeared on my timeline was messages of people that already have a deep personal connection, and even though these are lovely and welcoming people, it’s easy to FEEL like a bystander who watches what’s going on. And yes, I know I always had the chance to contribute and interact, but there still was a threshold. I also found it hard to convince others to join because conversations always became tricky when trying to describe what MTBoS means, how to spell it, how to pronounce it, etc. So I think the hashtag IS something that should be reconsidered. #iteachmath comes with instant identification because, hey, I teach math! MTBoS will continue to exist, no matter what the hashtag.

    • Fawn
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Bjorn. I honestly don’t believe Dan or anyone else who swiftly suggested that the #MTBoS be changed to something else fully understand the scope of the work that had gone into forming #MTBoS (and continue to be poured into this community), from the blog initiatives to dedicated websites to T-shirts to NTCM booths to flyers/buttons. Everything.

  4. Sunil Singh
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Fawn, I applaud you for trying to bring balance and perhaps your own positive experience/perspective, but I too have felt the pangs of MTBoS feeling cliquish.
    Mathematics is now a truly global community, as witnessed by The Global Math Project–which now has Ambassadors from over 65 countries. Mathematics and math education are moving towards more equitable footing, but there is still bias in curriculum and there is still a need to move the locus of leadership to something that resonates more of a 21st century world voice. I have used the hashtag #MTBoS many times…and its always felt like an echo chamber. I have since stopped using it…

    • Fawn
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Sunil. #MTBoS is much more than just an experience or perspective for me, it’s a collaboration of HARD WORK. Hard work that comes from passionate educators like you and me and her and him and them.

      • Sunil Singh
        Posted August 1, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

        I commend your passion and enthusiasm of getting your wholly positive experience through the internet/social media “noise” that can often occur. Keep up the positive math vibes!:)

  5. Posted July 28, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I agree that forming a relationship online is hard, especially when a bunch have formed deep personal connections already (e.g., at TMC). I often feel like a bystander, but have found that meeting MTBoS folks in real life at EdCamps and a Massachusetts Tweetup were great for making what felt like a more authentic connection in-person and online. I think I’ll start using both hashtags now.

    • Fawn
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kristina. Nothing beats meeting in real life, right? I’m grateful for all that you share with #MTBoS. Thank you for dropping in.

  6. Posted July 28, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I understand the sentiments of people feeling intimidated joining the #MTBoS community. I also know that I felt the exact same way when joining in all of the professional groups I am a part of. I viewed them as a resource that I couldn’t/shouldn’t contribute to because I wasn’t a specialist. It was me holding me back, not the people who were already sharing.

    What I’ve been reflecting about:
    How do our definitions of exclusion differ based on our own journey?

    How many people are frustrated by the number of responses Dan Meyer gets vs them?

    How many more Twitter followers does Dan have than me?

    Do all of my thoughts require a response to have an impact?

    How will a new hashtag change how people contribute? Will we not be scared of being judged or rejected?

    Why are we separating ourselves from “superstars”?

    • Fawn
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      I really appreciate this sentence from you: “It was me holding me back, not the people who were already sharing.” Thank you, Lori.

  7. Posted July 28, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Okay, perhaps #MTBOS folks should learn not to tag personal conversations so much.

    Now the “echo chamber” comment… well, I don’t know how a name change would help that!

    • Posted July 28, 2017 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      … and … I’ve read a few more of the ‘retire #mtbos’ posts and … suffice it to say they make me much less sympathetic to the idea. Very authoritarian.

    • Fawn
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Hi Susan. I won’t suggest how folks should use a hashtag, but for many #MTBoS members, we see #MTBoS as our math family, and this family continues to want to add members as we’re simply stronger and smarter together. That’s not just me talking, we have put together numerous resources to make that happen. But it is, at the end of the day, still a social platform, and it’s the internet. This internet thing is big and requires a lot of time to engage with.

  8. Krista Bradham
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    When I read Dan’s propoaition, I assumed everyone would jump and follow his lead. Now, this newbie (relative to the true friends on it) to #MTBoS feels completely confused about whether to use that or #iteachmath. I don’t want to use both!

    • Fawn
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Hi Krista. Thank you for being new and yet dropping in to leave me a comment! You use whatever hashtag you feel like, Krista! If I may help amplify your voice while you’re starting new on Twitter, please tag me and I’d be honored to retweet or tag someone who may know the answer. (I suspect that Dan, too, thought everyone would jump and follow his lead.)

  9. Meg2e
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I just want you to know I appreciate #mtbos so much, even though I am mostly a lurker. It’s the reason I set up a Twitter account and I found lots of info on what it is (a good while ago). It’s not cliquish for folks to have created a real community. To examine practices through a new lens where we see mtbos members share successes and vulnerabilities sets a high bar. It’s easy for teachers to be hard on ourselves and feel intimidated. I’ve never felt excluded, but know it takes lots of time and persistence to become part of any great community. On the other hand, anyone who uses the hashtag IS part of it. Folks who don’t get answers might want to try answering others as a first step. Having another hashtag seems ok, too. The community is so large I think there is room for layers of information and time will likely sort out what belongs where.

    • Fawn
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Hi Meg. I love your comment so much, all of it. Thank you. I just love you.

  10. Meg2e
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Thanks and right back atch!

  11. Posted August 2, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this post Fawn. I keep writing more and deleting it, so I’ll just leave it there. Thank you.

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