The other day I stumbled upon a tweet linking to a blog post by Doug Peterson (@dougpete). Doug was driven to blog about a new sketchnote created by Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth), and contained within his post was a challenge. I accepted, tagged Sylvia’a sketchnote, and gave a shoutout to two PLN members thanking them for pushing my thinking, and keeping me on my toes. Later, I decided to share Sylvia’s work with a wider audience in my PLN, and, not surprisingly, it seemed to resonate with others as well. Like Doug, I now feel motivated to share some of my reflections regarding why my PLN is my most valuable resource.
— David Carruthers (@pluggedportable) June 14, 2016
In her sketchnote, Sylvia lists 10 reasons why every teacher needs a PLN. Here are some of her reasons that resonated with me.
FINDING AND SHARING RESOURCES AND IDEAS: I’m lumping two of Sylvia’s reasons together (hope that’s OK Sylvia) as I believe it is just as important to contribute back to your PLN, as it is to consume the resources shared by others. Intrinsic to a PLN is reciprocity, building community, and growing capacity. It needs to be a shared endeavor. The more you invest, the more you grow in return.
FOLLOW AMAZING EDUCATORS ON THEIR BLOGS: Not so long ago “following” amazing educators posed quite a challenge. Perhaps you knew someone you could email, or a well-respected teacher in your school who’d lend an ear, but today any educator who recognizes the potential of a PLN, and seizes the opportunity, is catapulted into the classrooms and minds of some of the most influential educators in the world. This isn’t exaggeration, it’s the very nature of social media. As educators, especially those in leadership positions, we need to be cognizant that people are increasing turning to these globally-connected platforms, and abandoning traditional forms of communication. It’s why I’m writing this blog post.
GET SUPPORT WHEN NEEDED: This one takes time and a bit of patience, but as your PLN begins to grow, so will your desire to turn to your network of trusted, well-respected individuals. You may even notice a decrease in Google searches when wanting to learn more about best practises, or find a good digital citizenship resource, and an increase in seeking the advice of your PLN. My PLN is my sounding-board, idea generator, and a source of inspiration, but it is also my vehicle through which I attempt to build capacity by supporting others.
LEARN THE LATEST TRENDS IN EDUCATION: I enjoy exploring the latest trends in education, and keeping my finger on the pulse of emerging technologies. Quite often, members of my PLN share this mindset, and have begun to embed these trends and technologies in their programming. This provides me with a virtual window into their classrooms so I can see firsthand, in real time, the impact that these ideas and tools are having to help improve student learning. I may not know a lot about 3D printers, or how to code in Python, but some members of my PLN do, they are experts, so why wouldn’t I cease this opportunity.