Why Twitter?

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On November 18th, I decided to give Twitter a try. I wrote:

So I’ve decided there is possibly a vibrant teaching community that I’m not familiar with, because I had decided to ignore Twitter while getting the year in order. So here I am, going to take the plunge. […] I found a whole bunch of blogs by math teachers that I follow regularly. Let’s see if I can find the same on Twitter. 

It is now May 10th. I have made 741 tweets. I follow 71 people. And I check twitter multiple times a day. 

On November 18th, I didn’t “get” it. No one could explain to me why twitter was worth trying. But people on the blogs I read were talking about it. Before writing it off as inane… I mean, why do I care what a math teacher in Northern California had for lunch?… I gave it a shot. My goal for this post is to share with you how I use twitter, and why I continue to use twitter. 

One: I joined twitter to be involved with the math teacher blogger community. Turns out, most of the people writing the blogs I follow regularly have twitter accounts. I didn’t know that so many people were on twitter before joining. So these people, who I sporadically communicated with by commenting on a post here or there, have become people I communicate more regularly with. I solicit ideas from them and I share my ideas with them. The dialogue, short and sweet, is continuous. Like a bird chirping in the electronic zeitgeist.

Two: I get to solicit advice and share frustrations. And I get to give advice. 

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Three: I don’t know much about the people I follow, but I do know we share a set of values about teaching math. We love what we do. Why else would we want to talk with others who are the same. Not that I don’t have great colleagues in my school, but I am the only teacher for three of my four classes. I like to have someone to hash out ideas with. These people on Twitter are those people.

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Four: Links, links, links! I post links relevant to the post I’m writing on my blog. But I tweet lots of random math links that don’t seem to fit in what I’m doing now. Cool things that I think other math teachers might find useful. And others do the same. When I first started twittering, this was hands down my favorite benefit. Plus I get links about non-math related things too. Like when someone linked to the entire 5 seasons of Angel which were on sale for $57 at Amazon for one day.

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Five: I actually like hearing about the ordinary, math and non-math related things that my twitter friends post. Ummm. Okay, I know that these people aren’t my friends. And that I’m not ever going to meet them in real life, for the most part. But I’ve actually come to care when someone’s kid is angry at them or when someone’s husband was in the hospital. It brings the people behind the blog posts to life. Picture 7Picture 8

Six: I didn’t used to do this, but I have started doing this: when I write a blogpost, I tweet about it for other people to learn about it.

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Seven: I have discovered new math teacher blogs out there by looking at the followers of some of the people I follow.

Eight: This doesn’t apply only to Twitter, but also the blogs I read. I’ve noticed that having other people care about what they do makes me care about what I do. I want to do well that much more because of them. I honestly can’t say that I would have the drive for continual improvement and spend the time thinking through things as much if it weren’t for this little community.

And that’s my story with Twitter. I can see how someone wouldn’t find it useful. But to the nay-sayers out there, I will say this: I went in thinking I probably wouldn’t find Twitter useful/interesting/fun. It was only after I was following math teachers and joining in the conversations did I actually say “hey, this is actually pretty rad.”

To visit my Twitter Page, click here.

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9 comments

  1. I can really identify with reason number 8. In my teaching environment, I’ve been surrounded by people who have little interest in their work as teachers. And, unfortunately, this rampant apathy was beginning to have a negative effect on me. Finding people online who are as passionate and, in some cases, even more passionate than I am has been energizing for me. I can have conversations here that are impossible to have at school. I can share ideas for activities and projects and get enthusiastic responses in return; something that almost never happens during my work day. Blogs and Twitter are a daily, hopeful reminder that there really are like-minded people in the world and that I’m not alone in my thoughts and actions.

  2. Sam, you beat me. I hadn’t figured out what my post trying to explain the blog/twitter community was going to be, and then I read it here. I may try to expand on a few, but really, you summed it up.

  3. @colleenk: Here here! I must say that I don’t feel like teachers at my school are apathetic. (I do teach at a fancy independent school in NYC.) But we all are so busy together that when we hang out, it isn’t to really delve into lessons. I mean, we ask each other advice when planning, but we never really do the rest. I mean, working in any school, you mainly want your colleagues to vent to and to hang back with and have a bit of normalcy. So we don’t have a culture of obsessing over lessons. And I’m happy about that. Hence why I love the online peeps! And why you do too!

    @Sarah: definitely expand on it. This was me just throwing some stuff out there! (And thanks.)

  4. I’m sad. I’ve been reading your blog for the last two months and have loved your postings and I guess I should have commented on something way before now. I’m also a younger calculus teacher, trying daily to inspire my students. I joined Twitter just because you’ve talked about it multiple times and you blocked me from following you. I hope you allow me to follow you again soon.

    1. Epp! Renee, don’t be sad. I was deleting all the companies and spambots that were following me and I probably blocked you by accident. I think I unblocked you, but let me know if you aren’t.

      1. I am in the same boat as Renee. I, too, am enjoying reading your blogs and the links you tweet, but you have blocked me on Twitter. I don’t tweet much (I’m old – almost 40) myself, but if you could add me back, I’d really appreciate it. I am a high school math consultant in Alberta, Canada, and I have really enjoyed exploring the links to other sites that you provide. Perhaps I should have chosen a less suspicious sounding name on Twitter. I go by thescamdog, and if you could let me follow you again, I’d appreciate it.

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