I’m quite excited. I’m going to be meeting one of the TFA bloggers on this website to collaborate about teaching mathematics and hopefully gain insights that will help me be a better community leader for TFANET. (And maybe, make a new friend in a new city, who is connected to a wide network of people who care about math education and want to talk about it.)
Also this week I’m participating in online discussions about building community with the other community leaders. We are reading a few articles about facilitating online discussions and how we can make it a learning experience for everyone involved.
Also I just finished The Teaching Gap which discusses professional development systems where teachers collaborate online to analyze lessons.
When all of your life revolves around math, math education and online professional development you start to see the connections. Teachfor.us a way for hundreds of new teachers to collaborate and learn online. But all this community building and learning is disguised as recreational venting about the lesson went horribly wrong or the terrible new policies we are being subjected to.
We are more than first year teachers who just want to share with the world everything that was hard about our day in the hopes that putting it out to the world will make it easier to process. It’s more than people’s mothers leaving encouraging comments to help their children through the next day at work. It’s even more than a place where NY times readers can follow a link to see what it’s really like in the trenches. A book could do that but this is actually a community that is doing something more even if we are not quite aware of it.
This site is special. Of course it is special to me because through it I’ve realized that people actually are interested in what I say about math education. Not everyone, I’m sure, but there are some readers who do care. And that’s amazing and it gives me hope that through writing about math ed I’m going to be able to help some people.
But more than this, teachfor.us is special because it’s this incredible database of information and stories about teaching and what we are all going through in the process. There has to be something we can all learn from it-some encouragement or help we can take from the comments left on our blogs. In our content communities we wonder how we can build interaction and sharing and this to me seems like a perfect model. Something is inspiring all of us to share our stories and read other’s stories and I can tell this matters because I was unreasonably excited to find out the real name of one of the people’s blog I read today. And yes, it’s still a secret to all of you!
We are strangers-but of a very intimate variety. And I think that all of our words are going to turn into something special someday. I’m not sure when I’ll ever find time to write the teachfor.us book but it could exist. And it would be awesome. Savage Inequalities was the impetus that got me thinking about heading to the classroom. I had NO IDEA how bad education was until I read that book. And I really had NO IDEA about what things were really like until I was a teacher. But the words got things started. I found out today that the blogger I’m meeting had someone donate money to her school as a result of reading her blog. That’s so amazing-especially given how raw these blogs are. They are not the made for TV movie versions painting how TFA is saving the world.
They are people suffering and failing and venting and forgetting to write when things go well because they are out celebrating instead of procrastinating at their desks. They are people who might be frustrated at TFA at the moment or disillusioned with the mission and then they are those same people when they eventually work through it or sometimes give up and move on.
But still, it’s working and inspiring even if some of this might make a very bad advertisement for teaching.
For years I thought I was blogging because I liked it, but now I’m meeting a real person and hopefully accomplishing some real math ed tasks. Someone is doing real research on our blogs. They are analyzing my first two years to see how my identity as a teacher progressed. That will certainly be interesting if you’ve ever read those! The NY times mentions us. It might all mean more than you think. This is part of the movement and part of our own education.
Keep writing. Keep reflecting. Keep learning. We can do it and it may mean more than we think.