To the Editor:
People often talk about how times are changing when students are taught mathematics differently than were previous generations. But saying that the times are changing for mathematics education is not precise enough. In math ed., the type of change itself is what is changing, and social media may provide one method for keeping up.
Imagine being on a plane, sitting on the runway waiting to take off. At that moment, everything feels normal. Minutes later, the plane is in the air at cruising speed, and even though you are zooming across the sky at 500 miles per hour, everything still feels relatively normal. What really feels different in an airplane flight is accelerating down the runway to take off. The plane darts forward faster and faster. You can feel the increased speed as you get pushed into the seat. For some people, these moments are exhilarating. For others, they are scary and uncomfortable. What is certain, though, is that something is definitely changing, and you can feel it with your entire body.
Math educators feel something similar now. It is not the constant push to improve math education. We have been at that cruising speed for decades. What we feel is the acceleration of how quickly that change is coming—partially as a result of the Common Core State Standards. There was a time when educators were only aware of what was being done in their classrooms, and that they would have to implement change on their own. Over time, this isolation eased with best practices being shared across schools and districts.
Fortunately, now there is a community of thousands of math educators using social media to collaborate and improve their practice: the MathTwitterBlogosphere, abbreviated as MTBoS.
The educators involved with MTBoS share pedagogy and resources to make this change more manageable. The work done together is better than any one teacher could have done on his or her own. Teachers can take comfort in the reality that most math educators are experiencing similar excitement and fear as they plan their new curricula and methods.
Anyone can join this community of math educators across the globe by searching online for MTBoS.
Mathematics Teacher Specialist
Downey Unified School District
A version of this article appeared in the August 26, 2015 edition of Education Week as As Math Education Changes, Social Media Play a Role