So You’ve Got a PLN – Now What?

In my quest to have everyone personalize their professional development using my 4-step process (Twitter, Curation, Blog, EdCamp) as described here, I’m using the next few posts to really flesh out these steps.  I described the first step, joining Twitter and using it to leverage your PD, in the last post.  The purpose of joining Twitter is to build a global Professional Learning Network, also described by Bill Powers (@MrPowersCMS) in this blog post.

Professional Learning Network

graphic source: http://teachersbox.com/

Although Twitter may limit you to 140 characters, much can be shared and learned in a well-contructed PLN.  Just as in any meaningful relationship, there is give and take; I share what I’ve come across and have found important, and I keep things I find useful that others have shared.  Members of my PLN do the same, and pretty soon, we all have more knowledge, ideas, and a newfound respect for our profession.  Surf your Twitter Home Feed and reply to questions or comment on others’ postings. Take part in hashtag chats that pertain to your interests and watch your resources grow!

In my mind, there are five main ways to maximize the power of your PLN:

1.  Share Ideas & Resources.  My hope for you is that you’re not a lurker.  What’s the point?  Type something!  Share!  I’m sure you’ve written an amazing lesson plan, developed the perfect rubric, or just created a document aligning your current curriculum to the new Common Core.  Be proud and share it!  No one likes to re-invent the alphabet if they don’t have to!

2.  Seek Advice.  Last weekend, a member of my PLN wanted advice on Apple TV vs. the Reflection app.  That was a topic a couple of us had personal knowledge of or resources about.  We shared, and everyone learned something.  Instant gratification.  Awesome.

3. Share Day-to-Day Activities.  Sometimes the most interesting tidbits contributed by members of my PLN include their daily activities.  What did you do during science class today?  How did you resolve a parent issue?  What did the kindergartener say that was just too funny (you know how random they can be)?

4.  Collect Resources.  Much of what is shared by me and members of my PLN on Twitter is assigned a Star and added to my Favorites stream.  Pretty soon, your stream becomes like your email’s Inbox – unregulated, with the earlier entries forgotten.  In my next post, I will share some of the ways I organize all those resources, since CONTENT CURATION is the second step of my plan for Personalized Professional Development.

5.  Connect on a Personal Level.  All work and no play makes for a dull existence.  The ultimate purpose of a PLN is, after all, Professional.  However, just like in a classroom, letting your personality shine through can be a good thing.  Every once in a while, tweet about something funny, something you’re proud of, something meaningful to you.  Who knows, maybe it will earn retweets, follows, and before you know it, you will have sparked a conversation and made a connection with someone across the planet whom you have never met before.

I can honestly state that I am in a better place professionally because of my Professional Learning Network which I have established on Twitter.  I look forward to weekly hashtag chats, I enjoy sharing resources, and as I work through my day, I make mental notes on interesting activities or amusing happenings which can be shared later.  Thanks to all of you already a part of my PLN, and I look forward to expanding it even further and learning even more with my future colleagues.

~Matt

@MatthewWeld