We blog for each other, we tweet with each other, we facebook with each other, we email each other, we skype each other, and we gchat each other. And finally… this summer… we will meet each other. To explain who we are and why we’re doing this, we’re going to have different people give their own views…

Who We Are, & Why We’re Doing This by @druinok

Hi! My name is Shelli Temple and I teach AP Statistics in Oklahoma. I am blessed to work at an amazing school with wonderful teachers, but AP Stat is definitely a lonely course to teach. For most stat teachers, our class is the “kind of math” class – one that doesn’t really fit into the traditional framework and we are usually the only teacher, with no one nearby for collaboration. Thankfully, with the internet, each of us can have a virtual math department that includes teachers from around the globe. One of the most powerful things about the Math Teacher Twitter community is that no matter what time day or night, there is always someone available to brainstorm an idea with me, read over an activity, or share an “a-ha moment”. After finding the online blog/Twitter community, I’ve found myself increasingly dissatisfied with traditional professional development. I hate the idea of spending hundreds of dollars in registration fees when I can get much better PD for free through our Twitter discussions and online book clubs. I have grown as a teacher since finding this hidden pocket of knowledge and I’m so excited to finally get the chance to learn from my virtual colleagues in more than 140 characters at a time! :)

Who We Are, & Why We’re Doing This by @cheesemonkeysf

In each life lived out of passion — if you pay attention, and stay awake, and are very, very lucky — you might meet a a few soul-friends on this path: fellow travelers on their own journeys whose views and creativity and ideas reflect back and amplify what you see and what you seek in your own teaching life every day. Teaching is, in many ways, a solitary pursuit. Much of each day is spent either with students or planning for time with students. Reflection on the teaching life tends to take place alone, with a notebook or laptop, in a living room or a coffee shop. It’s often gift enough just to find colleagues whose styles and worldviews are compatible with your own. Nowadays, many of us have become practitioners who use our lesson blogs as our thinking-out-loud online reflective journals and Twitter conversations as our real-time, crowdsourcing, crowd-supportive interactions. And so Twitter, for many of us, has become a vehicle for creating soul-friendships with other math teachers around the world — relationships that transcend social, cultural, economic, spiritual, and political barriers that many of us would never think to cross in our ordinary, day-to-day teaching lives. Where else but Twitter could I put out a call for help with a truly thorny student math question — and receive instantaneous answers from great mathematicians around the world? Where else but Twitter could a colleague’s rant about the commodification of education by plutocrats with more money than sense turn into investigative journalism and activism about what actually works in the physics classroom? And where else but Twitter could I find instant and steadfast community with fellow teachers who are inquiring into their own teaching practice in the classroom at a time when our profession and our schools themselves are under a misguided attack in the name of our society’s children? So we are feeling grateful for this unexpected oasis of community in the ether. And that makes us eager to take the next step and gather in person — or, IRL (In Real Life).

Who We Are, & Why We’re Doing This by @lmhenry9

I am Lisa Henry and I am finishing my 20th year teaching. I have taught just about every class that I am certified for (grades 7-12) except for 8th grade Algebra 1 and Statistics. I presently teach Math 1 (lower level freshmen), Algebra 2, and Advanced Algebra 2 at Brookfield High School in Brookfield, Ohio (near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line in Northeast Ohio). I am married to Jason and have 2 children: Grace (9) and Cade (6). I tend to be an organizer by nature and I have found throughout my life that I generally do a good job at it. When we first started kicking around the idea to meet, I was excited about the opportunity to meet in person several of the people who have influenced me to be the teacher I am today. Helping organize this “camp,” if you will, is a way I can give back to those who have freely shared with me over the last 2 ½ years. Plus, I get to meet all these great people in person! I’m looking forward to meeting you all in July in St. Louis!

Who We Are, & Why We’re Doing This by @samjshah (www.samjshah.com)

Howdy. I’m Sam Shah. I’m a fifth year teacher, working as an Upper School (read: high school) math teacher a wonderful independent school in Brooklyn, New York. A couple of years ago I gave a short presentation on the use of twitter and blogs for math teachers. I asked Dan Meyer for his thoughts and in a single image he captured what it took hundreds of words to explain.
lounge This is who we are — colleagues who collect for hours around a virtual water cooler. We’ve collaborated a heck of a lot. We’ve shared and improved materials, helped first year teachers survive and even thrive, and reinvigorated veteran teachers. And for me, this community has helped me from accepting the status quo and doing the same thing day after day, year after year. All my online colleagues, and their constant hum of activity, keep me interested in the intellectual and emotional challenges of reaching kids. We’re tight knit. We have fun (click for more favorite tweets). We’re delightful. We share a core common philosophy about teaching. And our collective goal is to try to be a little less bad each day. With all of this, it’s a shame we’re all still virtual entities to each other. But now I think it’s time we put faces to the names [1], and see what we can achieve in person. I think the most important function of this conference — more than the sessions and problem solving — is going to be the in-person relationships we forge. It’s going to be de-lovely.

[1] This sounds a little like online dating! And it’s time to meet!