Friday, February 12, 2010

100th Post - The Growth of my PLN

Around 3 months ago I started this blog with different ideas for where I wanted it to go, and who I was hoping to reach with it.  For my 100th post, I want to focus on my PLN; the people who follow this blog, follow me on Twitter, and that I follow on Twitter.  The whole blogging experience has been probably the most influential of any professional development that I have had while teaching.  Partly because of what I have learned and found, but mostly because I have been able to share that information with others and hear of their personal experiences and then share them.

So what is a PLN?  Well, it could mean Professional Learning Network, or even Personal Learning Network.  That is the literal meaning of the acronym, but what does it really mean?  Imagine for a minute teaching in a school where some of the most influential educators all teach.  Imagine teaching in a school where the administrators encourage new and innovative ways to teach to your students.  Imagine teaching in a school where all those teachers share their ideas and lessons openly without fear of being seen as "that teacher."  That is the experience of a PLN.  Sharing ideas and experiences with people who enjoy what you have to share and openly share their personal experiences.

Most of my PLN started via a few Social Networks that I follow.  The first one that I joined was Classroom 2.0.  Very helpful in allowing me to share my blog as well as get feedback for future ideas.  I also met some people in the same career path as me, as well as some teacher education students who were enthusiastic about learning from other educators.  Another social network that I discovered was the Educator's PLN.  This was another website that allowed me to meet other educators who were experiencing the same change in education that I was experiencing, and many of these same members I follow on Twitter.

Then of course there is Twitter.  This is truly where the growth of my PLN started to grow.  I went from a few followers and following a few people to following over 100 (which I hope to increase soon), and being followed by over 200 in a matter of a month.  The problem with Twitter is its perception through out the education world. Yes, it originally and is still perceived as a Social Network.  But for educators...it is a Professional Network.  It is where I discover new ideas.  It is where I experience new thoughts.  It is where I find people who share many of the same educational values and beliefs that I do, and we discuss those without fear of egos, retribution, or fear itself.  From my original post about Twitter, you can tell that I am passionate about its use as an educational tool.  So let this be another opportunity for me to suggest joining Twitter and learning more about your PLN.  To give you another example, Dodie Ainslie Tweeted for suggestions for  what to include in a professional development about using Twitter.  I replied with ideas and from that, I had about 10 new teachers to Twitter begin to follow me....thus starting the creation of their own PLN.

Another opportunity came through Kelly Tenkely and the creation of a Blogging Alliance.  You can read more about the Blogging Alliance and see how to add the blogs to your Reader Account on her blog here.  By visiting the blog, you can click on a link to subscribe to the bundle of educational blogs.  This type of Alliance created a whole other type of a professional network for me to get to know and follow.  I highly recommend that you check out and follow our Alliance.

So, my questions for you are....what is keeping you from creating your own PLN?  Will you break away from the trend of most teachers and branch out from what is comfortable in your classroom and school and start a PLN?

Remember the following quote:
"CHANGE IS LIKE THE SUN, YOU EITHER CHANGE BECAUSE YOU FEEL THE HEAT, OR BECAUSE IT CAUSES YOU TO OPEN YOUR EYES." Not my own, saw in a book, drawing a blank on the author's name.
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