Sunday, September 22, 2013


Oy! I've kept my thoughts to myself, but I've been conflicted EVERY TIME I "hear" this term come up in various posts and tweets and such. But today I just read a post claiming certain group think, and it has prompted me to post.

Maybe I'm not part of this MTBoS. Maybe I am. I don't even know. I blog. I teach math. I share resources. I find resources. I look at tweets. Here are the thoughts that go through my stubborn, ornery, contrary head every time I see those 5 letters:

* Don't tell me what to think.
* Don't speak for me.
* I don't feel that way.
* I feel excluded.
* Am I missing something.
* Am I not part of the cool kids skipping around enjoying their time on the Internet.
* No one invited me.
* Why is there a need to yell "YIPPEE" look at us so often.
* This is having the opposite effect I think it's intended to have.
* I want some chocolate.
* No. Wine. I want wine.

Maybe I'm in the minority. Maybe people didn't invite me to parties as a child, and these are the after effects. Maybe I feel awkward in a large group. Maybe I need to mull things over myself, and keep my mouth shut.

I guess mainly, I'm thrilled that there are so many teachers that are willing to allow me to peek into their classrooms and thinking and teaching journey. That's enough. Anything more, to me, is just drawing a line in the sand and potentially making people feel excluded whether that intention was there or not.

Or maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about, and I'm the only one that scrunches her face at such a "thing". Anyway, here's a sweet picture to calm me down.


  1. I feel a bit that way too...

    I haven't made it to the twitter math camp thing, though I'd like to. (But I don't tweet enough to qualify, if that matters.)

    I'm a college teacher, and most of these folks are high school teachers.

    My blog is a little different.

    I follow the blogs of many, many math teachers, but I don't ever feel like I fit in, when there's an in that some people fit.

    OTOH, the last post I saw mentioning MTBoS, was the rant against TPT, and I agree at some level. I like free sharing better.

  2. Sue! I was JUST about to come home from dinner out and ashamedly remove this post. I was thinking, "who's the harpy, and when did SHE inhabit my body?".

    Sigh .... oh well. I guess we're all trying to do our best, and we were NOT absent that day that sharing was taught in kindergarten.

    Hope your year is off to a great start :).

  3. I am glad that you didn't delete this post or I would not have had the chance to read it. It is a perspective that I was not aware of, but is good to know about. Maybe this is something that happens when a name is (affectionately) adopted?

    I don't think of MTBoS as a person, or a collection of people. I think of it more as a collection of places where great resources for math teaching are found, Twitter, blogs mathchats, global math ,... And, I feel that everyone who is sharing resources, or even using these resources is part of this. When the phrase MTBoS is used, I feel like it is just shorthand for all of the amazing resources that are available. I think is it sometimes personified, but I think that is just because so many people love this community of sharing and connect with it. I don't know anyone that would want to make people feel excluded, as every person that blogs or tweets is thrilled when a new blogger joins! It's why we work so hard on the blogging initiative. It is the open invitation to everyone to come and explore, and even learn more about this community that we already belong to. I think our goal is always to make everyone feel included, and I am sad that it seems to have done the opposite for some.

  4. Anonymous12:59 PM

    I share a lot of those reactions, all girded by a long held belief that the primary use of group nouns is to define boundaries and exclude. We're math people, so we know that you have to be careful with boundary conditions.

    But here's why I've started using #MTBoS. On Twitter, it's way more OPEN than making a finite list of individuals. I haven't been able to take the term blogosphere seriously since mid-2002, so I always here it with a wink and an embarrassed giggle.

    I use #MTBoS as a shorthand for "this larger community of math-focused educators I have ACCESS TO via Twitter and Blogs." As such, I very much count Sue as part of my #MTBoS, despite the fact that we've never met, teach radically different subjects and ages, and are certainly not weepy "all the feeels!" friends.

    When we use #MTBoS, especially on Twitter, we provide everyone with a clickable link to a dozen different community conversations that are WAY broader than any individual.

    Consider #MTBoS a strange new discovery,a Mobius/KlienBottle social term. Since there is no "inside," it's impossible to be excluded.

  5. Thanks for all your ideas. I totally agree with everyone that this is phenomenal the amount of sharing that goes on. On further reflection, my "beef" (or "tofu") is I guess it would grate less on my ears if things were couched as, "5 of us were thinking and we ...." versus "the MTBoS thinks and we all ..."

  6. I wrote something similar a while ago too (!

    I think the MTBoS for everyone is different. Some see it as a collection of resources. (I don't.) Some see it as a community of people. (I do.)

    You've been a constant in my own personal PLN for years. You are part of MY community!

    But if you do feel excluded, like you're missing something, not part of the cool kids skipping around, uninvited, etc... what do you think could help with that?

    I think a lot of people have put a lot of thought into ways they can make people feel included, to make people feel like they have value no matter where they are in their careers... And I know that this conversation comes up occasionally (and @j_lanier is particularly interested in it!) and it leads to some good ideas.

    (That's precisely how was created, and why last year there was that math blogging initiation, ...)

    Are there things that you could think of that would help improve things? Make people who want to feel included actually feel and be included? (Besides the abolition of all nouns, which would be just too hard for me...)

  7. Hi Sam. I guess it's not an "excluded" thing at all. It's more of a "we think this" type of thing.

    I am just being my usual inarticulate self and spewing off at my cranky mouth without really thinking of what is really bothering me and how what I write might sound like. Ew. This is a job for wine.

  8. I had never tweeted before going to TMC13. I often still feel like I don't quite belong even though I've met many of these folks. Your blog and Sue's have been on my blog roll for years. You have good ideas and that's what I care about! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Thanks for the kind works, Jasmine. Hope your year is going great ... or at least has some great parts to it :).