Last year, I was inspired to write a blog post after viewing a sketchnote created by Sylvia Duckworth titled 10 Reasons Why Every Teacher Needs a PLN. In my post, Why My PLN is My Most Valuable Resource, I spoke to several reasons provided by Sylvia, and outlined how they have impacted my growth.
Since writing this post nearly a year ago, I’ve had some additional reflections, not necessarily related to how I leverage my PLN, but more closely linked to the importance of educators to have a network. I would even argue that it is a necessity if our goal is to deliver innovative experiences to our students. In a recent post, 3 Ways to Build Your Network, George Couros writes “you have to see building a network as an investment, not an expenditure.” I’ve spent considerable time investing over the years, and the return on this investment contributes more to my growth than anything else at my disposal. This is what I did yesterday on Twitter: I read and shared the post mentioned above, created some buzz for a new Twitter chat that I’m helping establish in my board, tweeted about learning commons transformations and GSuite tools, connected with several American educators, and shared a new sketchnote that I worked on with Sylvia Duckworth.
We can disagree about the speed in which we’re moving away from a traditional model of education, but we can’t disagree about the fact that the model, created around the need to train workers in the Industrial Revolution, is taking us in a new direction. If innovation is driving this paradigm shift, that is going to necessitate the need for educators to no longer work in isolation; educators will have to recognize that building a network is an investment.
One of the greatest challenges educators face is that we don’t always lead by example. Teachers encourage their students to share, administrators praise teachers who are sharing and connecting with a global audience, and system leaders speak to the importance of reaching beyond the walls of the classroom, but how many are leading by example? When this happens, it’s challenging to convince others that this is an investment, not an expenditure.
The internet has created unprecedented opportunities for educators to connect, but I believe it’s also important, when the opportunity presents itself, to connect face-to-face. When you go to a conference, and there’s an opportunity to connect with others, seize that opportunity. Meeting new people, and meeting your Twitter followers IRL (in real life), is a powerful opportunity. Consider making networking a priority and invest time in building relationships with other educators. This path will lead to exciting places.