Check out this lonely math teacher on Twitter:
Taylor registered her Twitter account this month. She’s brand new. She’s posted this one tweet alone. In this tweet, she’s basically tapping the Math Teacher Twitter microphone asking, “Is this thing on?” and so far the answer is “Nope.” She’s lonely. That’s bad for her and bad for us.
It’s bad for her because we could be great for her. For the right teacher, Twitter is the best ambient, low-intensity professional development and community you’ll find. Maybe Twitter isn’t as good for development or community as a high-intensity, three-year program located at your school site. But if you want to get your brain spinning on an interesting problem of practice in the amount of time it takes you to tap an app, Twitter is the only game in town. And Taylor is missing out on it.
It’s bad for us because she could be great for us. Our online communities on Twitter are as susceptible to groupthink as any other. No one knows how many interesting ways Taylor could challenge and provoke us, how many interesting ideas she has for teaching place value. We would have lost some of your favorite math teachers on Twitter if they hadn’t pushed through lengthy stretches of loneliness. Presumably, others didn’t persevere.
Interesting looking at my early #MTBoS tweets. Most of the time I got no response at all. I wonder why I kept at it.— David Butler (@DavidKButlerUoA) July 29, 2017
So we’d love to see fewer lonely math teachers on Twitter, for our sake and for theirs.
Last year, Matt Stoodle invited people to volunteer every day of the month to check the #mtbos hashtag (one route into this community) and make sure people weren’t lonely there. Great idea. I’m signed up for the 13th day of every month, but ideally, we could distribute the work across more people and across time. Ideally, we could easily distinguish the lonely math teachers from the ones who already experience community and development on Twitter, and welcome them.
wondering: is it possible to make a bot that auto RTs any #MTBoS tweet that's gotten no response in x hours, so ppl are more likely to see?— grace a chen (@graceachen) July 29, 2017
It does three things:
- It searches several math teaching hashtags for tweets that a) haven’t yet received any replies, b) aren’t replies themselves, and c) aren’t retweets. Those people are lonely! Reply to them!
- It puts an icon next to teachers who have fewer than 100 tweets or who registered their account in the last month. These people are especially lonely.
- It creates a weekly tally of the five “best” welcomers on Math Teacher Twitter, where “best” is defined kind of murkily.
That’s it! As with everything else I’m up to in my life, I have no idea if this idea will work. But I love this place and the idea was actually going to bore a hole right out of my dang head if I didn’t do something with it.