Monday, August 10, 2015

Put Yourself Out There!

How is my recent experience hosting a six-week #ditchbook (Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller) Twitter book study chat connected to a Kelly Gallagher writing workshop?

Let's check out the six degrees of separation that fell into place when I put myself out there.

1- I attended a 3-day Kelly Gallagher writing conference in Eau Claire, WI.  Kelly Gallagher encouraged me (and the other attendees) to join Twitter. Of course, I did.

2- I started lurking in Twitter chats, until I joined one (#tlap), and was welcomed by the author of Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess @burgessdave. This chat became a part of my Monday night routine and I met many wonderful pirate educators, including Heidi Jones @MrsJones_Merton (a fabulous 5th grade teacher from WI).

3- From the educators in #tlap, I found out about the Thursday #sstlap (Teach Like a Pirate for Social Studies teachers), and began participating in that chat. I met more pirate teachers, including host Ben Brazeau @Braz74 and rock star SS teachers like Chuck Taft @Chucktaft.

4- This spring, Chuck Taft shared information about an incredible new edcamp/unconference opportunity called Summer Spark @USMSpark, held at the University School of Milwaukee (where Chuck Taft teaches). Not only was Dave Burgess the keynote speaker, but I volunteered to present about teaching speaking and listening, and Chuck approved my session. If that wasn't incredible enough, I asked Heidi Jones (who lives close to USM) to stay at her house and go together. She said yes, and plans were made.

5- Heidi and I attended Summer Spark in June. Among many other phenomenal members of my Twitter PLN, I met Dave Burgess, Chuck Taft, and teacher Matt Miller @jmattmiller (author of Ditch That Textbook) face to face. That first night of the conference, Heidi and I were lucky enough to have dinner with Dave Burgess and Matt Miller (with a few other fabulous educators), after which we live tweeted that night's #tlap chat. I had just bought Matt's book and he and I had some great conversation between tweets.

6- Once I returned home and read the book, I asked Matt if anyone was planning a #ditchbook book study or chat. My good friend (and health/PE teacher) Jenny Wamsley @JennyWamsley had contacted Matt about starting a #ditchbook Voxer group. Matt was on board for both, so we made plans and started the chat on July 2nd.

As Heidi would say, "Awesomesauce!" 

There is my six degrees of separation connection between Kelly Gallagher and Matt Miller.

I put myself out there. 
I tried new things. 
I took advantage of opportunities. 
I connected with other educators.  

When I think about all the awesome experiences I've had over the past few years, their roots can all be traced back to putting myself out there and connecting with educators via Twitter or Voxer.

My former colleague Laura Wagenman just started putting herself out there. She became more active on Twitter, presented her awesome math strategies at a summer teacher workshop, and recently started blogging. I'd encourage you to follow her journey @laura_wagenman 

I am excited for the year ahead and all of the amazing opportunities for me and for my students.
Many will be the subjects of future blog posts. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about all of the incredible educators, authors, leaders and friends in my PLN. 

Who knows who/what you're six degrees away from? 

Amazing things can happen when you put yourself out there. 


  1. OMG! This is fantastic, Sandy! I love it! "Six degrees of separation." You're absolutely right, it's all about putting yourself out there and you did just that. Reading your blog brought back all of the wonderful memories we shared together at Summer Spark! One of my favorites was on Sunday night when we had to go to Office Max for Dave and not only did we buy him the board he needed but we also made him a "Get Well Soon" basket! Remember?!! #somuchfun Thanks for writing, Sandy! I wish you all the best this upcoming school year with your new adventure!

    1. Thanks, Heidi! Loved our Office Max emergency (and the Walgreens care basket). wouldn't have met you without Twitter, That would have been a shame.

  2. Kevin Bacon Shmacon - this is the best six degrees I can remember!

    1. Thanks, Chuck! So happy to have connected with you.

  3. GREAT things happen when you put yourself out there. You may not have had any experience moderating a Twitter chat, but you were a top-notch moderator ... And I have participated in my fair share of Twitter chats! Keep stretching yourself, and you "Otto" see some great things happen! (See what I just did there???)

    1. I'm a sucker for a funny pun, Matt! So excited to spread your message to the masses. It actually wasn't my first rodeo, but it's been a fun ride!

  4. Well, great things happen to GREAT PEOPLE who put themselves out there.