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Literacy Needs Its #MTBOS, So Let’s Make One

I’ve long admired #mtbos and its role in professional learning for math teachers. If you know #mtbos, you know… and you probably understand why so many math teachers appreciate it.

If you don’t know #mtbos, you’ll find its history below. Today, #mtbos is a loosely-organized community of math educators seeking to improve practice, as well as a hashtag used across the K–12 math community. It started grassroots. Posts in #mtbos are often sharp, authentic, even humble. Questions asked of #mtbos get quick, quality answers. Skimming #mtbos tweets, one finds excellent reading and insights. So, its value as a Professional Learning Network (PLN) is significant. (Some use #iteachmath for the same purposes.)

Here’s the thing: literacy has no equivalent. It’s shocking, really, when you think about it.

Yes, there are hashtags that some folks use sometimes: #engchat, #elachat, #ilachat, and very recently, #ScienceOfReading.

Still, when I look at posts by the educators from whom I learn the most, I don’t see consistently-used hashtags. In fact, most posts have no hashtag. And hashtags are a pretty valuable way to find your tribe – and its best resources – in #EduTwitter.

So, let’s pick a hashtag for sharing about research-aligned reading instruction and how kids learn to read! We’re overdue, given the national conversation about reading instruction.

First, we need a name.

Do we try to align around an existing hashtag and make it our own? #elachat, #engchat…

Do we create a new(ish) hashtag? #LitChat #LitTwit…

Do we run with #ScienceOfReading? #SORChat?

Also, who are our MVPs? When new educators arrive in #EduTwitter, who are the must-follow folks? I’ll publish a Literacy Twitter Must-Follow blog in a few days, with wisdom of the crowds. (So help me, y’all!)

Lastly, I’m reflecting on how our community is experiencing the national conversation about reading. Folks have been In Their Feelings… and I find myself really curious about how educators are responding to the discussions. (I think I may be literacy Twitter’s resident anthropologist.)

Related questions include: How do we feel about the phrase “the science of reading”? As a hashtag – and beyond? Which topics are underrepresented in the conversation? Et cetera.

I have my own perspectives, but I’ll hold off writing more until I understand yours. The community perspective feels a lot more important than my own humble opinion.

Let’s Crowdsource This Thing

I made a short Google form covering the open questions above. Please add your two cents?

I’ll share out what I’m hearing, and promise to publish the follow-up mentioned above.

Shout Out to My Muse

Thank you to Jamie Garner for the inspiration! All this sprang from a single tweet that pushed my thinking about EduTwitter:

What the heck is #mtbos? And what can we learn from it?

#mtbos – which stands for Math Teacher Blog-o-Sphere – began when early math teacher bloggers began connecting as they discovered each others’ blogs, and substantive discussions took place in the Comments sections… perhaps because these were the days before #EduTwitter was a Thing. A network of thoughtful math educators emerged, and the conversation carried over to Twitter; the early leaders are busy sharing an oral history in Twitter today.

You can learn more about today’s #mtbos here, including a directory of the teacher bloggers worth following. Math teachers RAVE about its role in their professional growth, to a degree that inspires me!

It’s not a perfect community (is there such a thing?). For example, the last two years have seen important conversations within #mtbos and the math community about inclusiveness, diversity, and equity within the group. Follow Marian Dingle and Dr. Kristopher Childs, two important voices in that conversation, for more. I hear many math educators say that they’ve learned a lot from those conversations. One important point, IMHO, is that there was a connected math community in which those conversations could happen in the first place.

Hat tip, #mtbos. If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, consider yourselves flattered.

Published inK–12 EducationLiteracyScience of Reading

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