Welcome to the SECOND episode of the Growth Over Grades podcast!
This is the Education podcast that highlights student learning and practice BEYOND report cards and grades.
Hosted by educator, author, and Spacesedu.com Community Advocate, Melody McAllister - the Growth Over Grades podcast will host conversations with forward-thinking and inspiring educators who are leading the charge on assessment, classroom experience, social-emotional learning, and more!
Our guest today is educator and leader Dr. Sarah Thomas! A little background on Dr. Thomas includes 18 years in education, in the D.C. area, from the role of classroom teacher of grades 1st-12, adjunct professor, and currently central office administrator. She is the Founder and CEO of EduMatch, EduMatch Foundation, and EduMatch Publishing
Dr. Thomas did not start her teaching career in the traditional setting, so she recounts she felt like she was playing “catch up” in the first few years on the job. It was an isolating experience that led her to “crave community.” She did finally find a school community that was the right fit for her. In 2014, without thinking of the future impact, began connecting with educators similar interests from around the globe. Thus, the EduMatch Community was born. Today, you can find this community on several social media networks: Twitter, Voxer, Facebook, Instagram, and even Clubhouse.
“Having those experiences of isolation kind of led me to craving the whole community aspect that having a PLN can bring you. And the fact you can get to know so many different people, and it’s fairly easy to cultivate. That’s something that has really changed me for the better. Over the last few years I've grown significantly and it’s been the result of being connected to so many different people.”
Community Impact on Student Achievement
Dr. Thomas shares that the sense of community, or a safe psychological place that we create in our classrooms, can help our students take risks and expand their knowledge. That safety and encouragement helps them learn through mistakes without feeling defeated. Ultimately, it teaches our students they have the power to make a lasting impact on the world around them.
This sense of community works the same in empowering educators, and it’s usually those empowered educators who create these tight-knit communities with their students and families.
Dr. Thomas always encourages those in her community to keep sharing their stories. The expansion of social media has made it easier to find other educators who care about the issues that matter. We also discussed how a thriving and diverse community, where people genuinely care about each other and are there to learn, can help push our thinking. In fact, she credits community members who think unlike her who have helped challenge her the most. When we feel supported by others, we are more likely to listen to ideas that normally we wouldn’t be as open to. The foundation of community helps us all learn from each other.
“Continue sharing your expertise. Everybody is good at something. That one thing that you’re good at or those many things that you’re good at is going to be valuable to somebody, so put it out there. That’s how we learn from one another.”
All the Extras
PLN is an acronym for Professional Learning Network.
In this podcast, Dr.Thomas mentions the term “PLF.” She coined this term in an ISTE session and it means “Professional Learning Family.”
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People To Follow
These people were mentioned in this episode: