I picture a store opening in my town. All I know is its title. Let's call it Math Warehouse. I drive by it, maybe a friend told me the warehouse has been open for some time now. They suggest I should check it out. I did a little window shopping. One day, I was at a store nearby and found myself with a few minutes to spare. I ventured into the Math Warehouse without any expectations. I see that there's no membership to be a part of the Math Warehouse. Just like any other store, I can come and go as I please. I can talk to those that are in the store. I can browse all the items available to me. I can get recommendations. I can go to certain aisles that have resources and tools I might need for my classroom, students, and teaching craft. I have no expectations. All I know is that the Math Warehouse is a place I can go as a math teacher to find resources from people who are willing to share. I can't use it all. Not all of it applies to me. Not all of it can be consumed in a lifetime. This Math Warehouse became the greatest thing. It instantly became my favorite store. It is the MTBoS or place we refer to as Math Twitter Blogosphere.
I entered this online community of educators with no expectations. All I know is that I feel I owe this math community a large greeting card of gratitude. The kind of greeting card that makes you feel all good inside. My students, my classroom, my craft of teaching has grown immensely because of you and everyone else that has given me feedback on math education. I've had opportunities to meet like-minded teachers, both online and in person. This is a cool experience. Honestly, I've never given it any thought as to how it should be run or what direction it needs to go, because I am just a small rain drop in the beautiful rain that this online community showers us with. I'm a little saddened that so much thought is going into these discussions. Granted, I don't know everything, but I don't like hearing where this place needs to go. This online community will do what it needs to do. There are things I wish I was better at and ways I could give those greeting cards to more people.
I'd love to follow more people, but following and paying attention are two different things. I'll admit, I limit my follow group mainly so that I can pay attention to those I have filtered to provide my students, teaching, and classroom with growth. If someone is doing something, I'm confident I will eventually hear of it and consider its application. I'd love to comment more on people's posts, even if it's a "thanks for posting." I'd love to know all the great things that are happening in my twitter feed or blogs I don't know about... but I can't. It's beyond my human capacity. I heard some stat once that sticks in my head. Take all the hotel rooms in Las Vegas. If one were to spend a night in each hotel room, it would take multiple lifetimes. All the content available to us at our fingertips, mouse-clicks, and eyeballs is beyond what our brains, classrooms, lesson plans, curriculum, and pedagogies can handle. It's a warehouse.
I'm not interested in shaping where this online community goes. I'm happy to be a part of it. Let me rephrase that. I'm extremely grateful to be a part of it. Maybe I'm blowing this out of proportion. I'm happy for you all. I'm thankful. And I'm one to just let this be a good shopping experience at our Math Warehouse, if you will. Come and go as you please. Take what you need. Leave some ideas behind. Share, share, share!
Lastly, I'm at Drexel University working with some other great teachers on assessments and rubrics. One of The Math Forum leads, Wesley Shumar, shared this with us this morning:
Community is the result of the process.The process he was referring to was the sharing of ideas, resources, strategies, and other educational components. We have a community here that is the result of the process. We share, we provide feedback, we listen, we retweet, we blog, we share, we favorite, we comment, we create, we borrow, we improve, we share, and as a result we create a community that will define and direct itself through the process.