Why Write This?
Why do I use Twitter? Why do a write the occasional blog post?
A relatively long standing attended of One Hundred Factorial, I was vaguely aware that David would post things to Twitter about it. Because at varying points in its history, the day or location of One Hundred Factorial would change, I would often check the webpage for the session, which had Facebook and Twitter embedded. But as I’ve not particularly cared for social media, I didn’t do anything about it, until this last year, when I reached the last year of my teaching degree.
As my classes began before the start of the normal university semester, there were not yet weekly One Hundred Factorial sessions. I didn’t think about it until a few weeks into classes, and so when I check around the 21st of February, I discovered I’d missed the holiday session by a week!?
So, I ask again. How did I, someone who never cared for social media, go from not having any social media to having 321 tweets in 194 days, with 57 followers, in addition to having started a blog?
Having been somewhat aware that David used Twitter to share content from #100Factorial, I visited his page early in the year to check when the next session was. Though I had missed the last holiday session before regular sessions began, it was conversations between the afore mentioned culprits that caught my interest. As I was becoming increasingly aware of how valuable having the support of other Maths teachers would be, whether for encouragement, advice, or with the sharing of resources, when I saw this on Twitter, I decided I wanted to join in. I had seen David and Amie talking maths education, and I had seen David like or retweet some of Sarah’s Monday summaries of content, saved on her website, of all the cool Maths Education things that she’d come across during the previous week.
So the three of them were my first follows. Shout out to Howie Hua (@howie_hua), who was the next person to appear in my feed as being a constant source of maths education content, in the form of reflective thoughts on teaching practice. A session from Dylan Agnew (@DylanAgnew3) at the MASA2 annual conference reinforced the idea of networking, and from there I’ve been able to curate a list of people to follow so that my feed is a constant source of ideas, resources, and support. Outside of a few people I know from university, as I have come across new people on Twitter, I’ve followed people who consistently share interesting and useful education-related content.
This has been quite self-centred though, focussing on everything that I can get out of all these people. I wanted to give back, but the question was “How?” I’m a preservice teacher, still trying to get a handle on some of the basics. How could I offer anything of value?
My answer was that I am inexperienced, and new, and that writing down my thoughts as I struggle through the start of my career is something that anyone else already on Twitter sharing things from their experience can no longer do.
So, I started out slow. First, just reading stuff on Twitter. Then I started liking content that I thought could be useful, occasionally bookmarking things that I definitely wanted to look at again. Then I started copying what I saw the people I followed doing. I started tweeting, once or twice every few week – a thought about numbers, or maybe something I assembled I thought was cool. David and Amie made sure to make me feel welcome – liking many of my posts, occasionally responding too. One of my favourite early tweets was about Amidakuji3.
Looking at my hand, I noticed an Amidakuji. I may then have felt compelled to follow the paths… pic.twitter.com/jiucfE2eTn
— Jeremy Hughes (@JeremyInSTEM) May 20, 2018
But then I started the first of my two final teaching placements. Following Sarah, I had become aware of #Teach180 – a challenge to tweet something about your teaching every day, and I resolved to do that for my teaching placements – share my thoughts, my successes, and my failures in my initial experiences of teaching. That got my posting regularly, but I was encouraged to continue to do so when my thoughts began prompting interesting discussions (it was also pretty nice to get noticed by Sarah once or twice too).
Along the way, I got to participate in a few cool things as well. Erick Lee’s (@TheErickLee) #MathPhoto18 was a bit of fun, although I only contributed a few photos to it. I also got to write a lengthy blog post for Sam Shah’s (@samjshah2) Virtual Conference of Mathematical Flavors, which just having the encouragement to get those crystallised and on ‘paper’ was really helpful for working out what I believe as a teacher.
And so then here we are, with me writing a blog post about writing blog posts. Six months in, I’ve been able to use resources, and even lesson ideas, that I’ve found on Twitter to help run my class, and already plan to implement more things in the future. By sharing my thoughts, I’ve been able to clear my head and focus my ideas, and I feel that I have been able to make a few small contributions back to the community, whether through a few blog posts, or in the odd twitter conversation were I’ve had a useful perspective, or through something like my compilation of #100Factorial puzzles as a reference resource.
The Next Chapter
So why Tweet? Why Blog? And what should you try and find out?