Get Connected with EduMatch

Sarah Thomas is a Regional Technology Coordinator in Prince George County, MD.  Sarah currently holds a master’s degree from Howard University in the field of Curriculum and Instruction and is a doctoral candidate at George Mason University.  Sarah is the founder of EduMatch, a passion project that helps educators connect globally.  Sarah started EduMatch in 2014 and since then has become a global phenomenon using social media to help connect educators all over the world.

Checkout the podcast: Get Connected with EduMatch Podcast

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“I love to connect with other educators, because I strongly believe that we are all experts at something, and can learn so much from each other!  Let your voice be heard, and let’s all grow together.”  Sarah Thomas

I was fortunate enough to catch up with Sarah to talk about some of her upcoming projects.  

Jorge:  Sarah, thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  I would like to start with talking about EduMatch.  Can you explain a little about EduMatch and how you came up with the idea?

Sarah:  EduMatch is a global network of educators who learn together using social media.  We build strong relationships in order to be able to talk about the issues that really affect our students.  One Friday night in September 2014, I was chatting with my friend Rafranz Davis on Voxer.  We started talking about gamification in math, and I told her of a recent conversation I had with my cousin on the same topic, and how I wished she, him, and another mutual friend, Chris Aviles, could get together and talk.  This made me wonder if something existed to connect educators around similar interests.  Yes, there were Twitter chats, but I couldn’t find anything that specifically introduced educators to one another.  So, I created an account, a Google Form, and a really ugly logo, and tweeted out to see if anyone would be game to try.  An educator in Australia said he would, and after he filled out the form, I tweeted this information out using relevant hashtags.  At the end of the day, he reported that he made several new connections.  This was our very first “Person of the Day.”  Rafranz then encouraged me to make a website, and as people signed up, they brought their amazing ideas.  This is how EduMatch has grown over the years.  

Jorge:  One of the things I really admire about you is that you are a self-described introvert, yet you keynote and present at conferences around the world.  How do you work through your shyness and how would you encourage others to do the same?

Sarah:  Thanks, Jorge!  I read an article once that said to reduce nerves, take the focus off of yourself and place it entirely on the message.  In addition, I channel my alter-ego, Sarahdateechur, to deliver the message for me.  This usually works.  I know that things went well if I don’t remember what I said, haha.

Jorge:  One of the many great things that has come out of your passion to connect educators is EdCamp Voice, which is coming up on July 7th and 8th.  How did the idea to do an ed camp on Voxer originate, and how can people learn more about the event?

Sarah:  Back in 2015, a few of us were chatting about how it would be cool to do an edcamp on Voxer.  We decided to try it and see what would happen, and had the first round in December 2015.  It went so well that we decided to bring it back, then again, and now again for our fourth round.  This format was great because if you’re anything like me, you suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and this allows you to be in all of the rooms!  In addition, as someone who is pretty shy, I am usually super-conscious to not interrupt people in face-to-face sessions, which usually leads to me not saying anything at all.  However, that problem is eliminated in Edcamp Voice, where you’re not bound by time.  As a matter of fact, one room, AR/VR in Edu, has been going strong since the first round.  We encourage people to continue the conversation for as long as they like after the closing, and add their rooms to the EduVox List.  People can learn more about Edcamp Voice by going to our website, edcampvoice.com.

Jorge:  EdCamp EduMatch is happening August 5th.  Can you tell us about that and how people can learn more about the event?

Sarah:  Absolutely!  We are about to launch our third Edcamp Edumatch, where Edumatchers from around the world will come together to learn online from 10 am – 12 pm ET.  We plan to use the MIT Unhangout platform, which is really cool.  We have been using it for the past three years, and it looks like they made some cool changes to the interface, which we are excited to see.  People can find out more by going to edcampedumatch.org.

Jorge:  These events take a lot of time and work to put together.  Why do you do it?

Sarah:  I love learning with educators around the world, and feed off the energy and ideas that my colleagues bring.  Yes, it’s a bit addictive…but I feel like I learn so much being a fly on the wall in these spaces.

Jorge:  What is your vision for the future of EduMatch?

Sarah:  The beauty of EduMatch is that it belongs to the community.  Everyone who joins brings a piece of him/herself and that’s how it grows.  A lot of the crazy things we do, like starting a Voxer group or a podcast, for example, comes from someone saying, “hey guys, why don’t we try X?”  I have a couple of ideas for the future, but it’s pretty open-ended.  I’m confident we will be publishing more books together…we are talking about maybe doing a conference one day, and releasing a mixtape in the near future.  I’m looking forward to what will hopefully be a lifetime of learning together.

I would like to say thank you to Sarah Thomas for her passionate work and dedication to our profession.  I encourage everyone to checkout EduMatch.org and follow Sarah on Twitter, @sarahdateechur, to learn more about what’s going on in the EduMatch community.

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