Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Together We're Better

The other day I was sitting in a conference and I heard an amazing story by a fellow educator. Some of the people in the room were brought to tears...but everyone in the room was inspired. After I heard the story I approached the individual and thanked him for sharing.  Then I asked him what his twitter handle was.  I told him that his message was moving and I wanted to share it with others.  His response surprised me...he laughed.  In the next moment he turned and began to talk with other people.  As I stood there for a moment, I began to genuinely wonder why there is such a divide in our profession. 

I hope I never come across as pushy or forceful when it comes to being a connected educator.  I simply see being Connected as a tremendous resource.  I believe the World needs to hear the positive stories. As I reflect, I think his story reached a couple hundred...but what if his story reached more...?

Recently I attended #edcampldr in Philadelphia.  For me the event actually began months earlier. My good friend +Tom Whitford reached out and asked if I was interested in doing a road trip to Philadelphia. Without much thought, I committed!  I was all-in for this event.  I viewed it as a chance to build stronger relationships and to be a part of one of the most amazing think tanks in the nation.

Shortly after Tom and I committed, others decided to join in the fun.  The Road Trip was taking on a life of its own.  Our group communicated through Voxer and Twitter for the better part of three months.  Some of us even got together in May and took in a Cubs game.  Finally the time came and we flew to Philadelphia and stayed at the home of +Tom Murray.  

People that aren't connected look at me in disbelief.  I had one person say, "You're flying to Philadelphia to spend four days with people you've only met once or twice in person?"  I casually responded, "Yes."  You see, being connected is about learning...but even more importantly it's about connecting.  You've probably heard it's about relationships!  For over four years I have leaned on my #PLN for support.  I'm blessed to work with several of my #PLN members, but what's great is I have friends around the country willing to help out anytime.  Would I be an effective educator without my #PLN? Maybe. But I truly believe "Together We're Better!"  

During the weekend leading up to #edcampldr I had the opportunity to talk with experts.  We discussed Google+, Blogger, WordPress, Instagram, Learning Spaces, Edcamps, Conferences, Books, Voxer and more.  The learning and connecting was truly fantastic.  

If that wasn't enough, Monday arrived.  All of us got there early to help +Joe Mazza set-up and get #edcampldr rolling.  Watching a group of educators acting in a completely selfless manner is powerful. It wasn't about one person. Again the attitude was "Together We're Better!"

I will tell you that I've attended a lot of conferences, but nothing compares to the four day learning experience that #edcampldr was for me.  That Monday, over two hundred people were tweeting and sharing their learning on Twitter and Voxer.  The positive vibes at Penn Law were contagious.  

I do have one regret though.  I wish it would have been longer.  I left thinking that I can't wait to connect with +Brad Gustafson and discuss Augmented Reality.  Plus I was thinking of more ways to stay in contact with +Victoria Day so we could discuss #PTcamp.  The day flew by and I was only able to spend minutes with some of my favorite #PLN members.  

I share that with you because I strongly believe that Together We're Better.  

This Week's Questions Are:  Who pushes your thinking?  Who challenges you to be your best? Who gets you out of your comfort zone? 

Whether you are connected or not we all need a Personal Learning Network.  I encourage you to build your #PLN; find those people that make you a better person.  I feel lucky to have so many caring friends.  I truly have an amazing life!  Thank You 

For more on #EdCampLDR check out these photos: EdCampLDR Photos

For more on the Power of a #PLN, check out these posts:

Upcoming Dates For Your Calendar:

Tuesday, August 12th:  Jackson County EdTech Kick-Off at Western High School
Sunday, August 24th:  Family Cookout at the Gilpin's 5pm
Monday, August 25th:  NEW teacher orientation
Tuesday, August 26th:  TBD...stay tuned
Wednesday, August 27th:  ALL Staff - 7:30am BKfast followed by 8am Western Kick-Off!
Thursday, August 28th:  ALL Staff - 8:30am in the Jackson High School Auditorium
Thursday, August 28th:  5:30 - 7:30pm Back 2 School Night
Tuesday, Sept. 2nd:  First Day of School

Articles Worth Reading:

Videos Worth Watching:

Stuart Scott's Moving Speech... (7 min)

Young Boy and a Soldier (7 min) +TheEllenShow 

I'm not a huge Badger fan, but I must say this gets me jacked up for College Football! (2 min)

Thanks for Leading Sessions with me friends, I appreciate you all. @thomascmurray @KleinErin @Joe_Mazza 


  1. Ben once again you make it about the relationships. I can't tell you how much I've grown from connecting with you. While I am sure the learning was excellent, it's the connections that make life worthwhile. It sounded like an awesome time! Thanks for always keeping your PLN heading in the right direction.

    1. I appreciate your support and friendship Jon. I look forward to connecting F2F in the near future. #EdCampLDR was terrific! I can't wait to connect in the future.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Ben. You have modeled that the connections we make on social media are strengthened by personal, face-to-face interactions. I wish I could have been at #EdCampLDR; it sounds like everyone had an amazing experience. Thank you for continuing to share positive messages that encourage us to keep the relationship the main thing! I appreciate you!

    1. That's very kind of you Jennifer! I wish you could have made it, but I know we will connect soon. With strong relationships we are able to create environments of joy where people flourish.

  3. Great take-aways Ben! Our experiences mold who we are. Those that we interact with are our inspiration to be the best we can. We are leaders, we serve, we empower.
    Your leadership is powerful.

    1. Thank you Craig. You are spot on...our experiences truly mold who we are. Thank you for being part of my PLN, I enjoy learning from you and with you.

  4. I'm glad you were able to enjoy Philadelphia! I grew up outside of the area, and seeing the skyline brought back memories.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences at EdCamp. I've stumbled upon the event through Twitter and Instagram and will be making my best attempts to attend EdCamp Dallas. Now I have something to look forward to!

    1. CJ,

      Philadelphia was fantastic! I enjoyed the CheeseSteaks, the sights and most importantly the company. I'm glad the pic brought back memories!

      I hope you sign up and attend Edcamp Dallas. I personally know that Matt Gomez and Amber Teamann will help create a wonderful day of learning and connecting. I encourage you to go for it!

  5. Sounds like an amazing conference & looks like you had an amazing group to hang out with. I hope that little by little we can gather more around us that see the numerous positives with being connected. Who knows, maybe even the educator you spoke of at the beginning of your post will see the benefits of joining in and sharing his story with others!

    1. Jen,

      I sure hope you are right. I can only speak for me, but conferences like #EdcampLDR and being a connected educator have made an immeasurable impact in my life.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I appreciate your kindness and support.

  6. Ben,

    Your reflection and your comments all summer on #ptcamp have been spot on. Thank you for always bringing it back to what matters- the people and the relationships we create.

    1. Kellie,

      PTCamp has been fantastic all summer! Thanks for voxing and connecting all summer long.