Today was tough. Really tough. My kids were, for the most part, great. Honestly, most of the time it's not the kids that drive me nuts. Kids will do what they can get away with, after all.
I often feel powerless at my job. I feel as if everything is happening to me, not with me or because of me. I crave collaboration and intelligent conversation about education, but I don't get a lot of it at my job. Whenever I feel alone, in steps my PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network).
Side note: if you don't know what a PLN is, then check out the links at the bottom of this post.
After a long, frustrating day at work, I sent out a tweet:
Within minutes, I received encouraging words, many from people I have never even met in person, but with whom I have exchanged wonderful resources and conversations.
I felt--no joke--all warm and fuzzy inside.
These are big-thinkers, lifelong learners and people like me, who seek out knowledge for themselves and have a passion for sharing that knowledge with the world. Sadly, my face-to-face PLN is lacking such energy and passion. Or, perhaps, this energy just hasn't been released, or maybe it hasn't been given the opportunity to flourish. Twitter provides that opportunity for me.
So, my questions are:
- Have you ever wanted to discuss that new issue of Educational Leadership, only to find you're the only one with a subscription, or you're the only one who read it?
- Have you ever heard a story on TV or the radio or read a great book and been just dying to talk to someone about it, only to find that people want to talk about Desperate Housewives or The View and have never heard or read the story and/or have no opinion about the topic? (No harm meant to those who enjoy those shows!)
- Have you ever had a question that no one seems to know the answer to?
- Have you ever wondered how someone else does something?
If you have a network of friends/fellow educators already, then you should feel like the luckiest person in the world. If not, then you need to get one!
A supportive and innovative PLN will help you grow in your career, help you grow as a person and give you a place to bounce new ideas around, ask simple questions or get help when you need it. It can also be a place of comfort and belonging when you feel isolated or alone.
How can you just up and 'get' a PLN?
- Give in to the fad and join Twitter. (See links to posts below on how to do this.)
- Join a Ning (social network) that is related to your area of expertise.
- Join Diigo and start sharing links with people or join a Diigo group.
- Listen to conversations in your workplace and seek out those people who share your interests or whose company you enjoy. A good PLN does not have to be virtual--it can be right under your nose!
Best wishes to everyone with the new school year and thank you to all of the valuable members of my PLN that keep me going every day!
Helpful links for building a PLN:
'Creating a PLN' Wikispace
What is a PLN, Anyway? from Teaching Village (Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto)
The Innovative Educator: 5 Things You Can Do to Begin Building a Personal Learning Network
How to Build a Personal Learning Network from Free Technology for Teachers (Richard Byrne)
Oh, the Adventures You'll Have if Only... from Teacher Reboot Camp (Shelly Terrell)
How to Become a Twitter Teacher in 23 Steps or less by Kapil Bhatia
Why You Should Start Tweeting by Jason Renshaw
Examples of Online Communities (these are all technology & education related)
Philly Teacher Techs (OK, a plug for my own Ning, but it's the closest I've gotten to starting a local PLN)
ISTE Community Ning
school bus photo courtesy of FreeFoto.com
frustrated face photo courtesy of tuppaware_001 on Flickr