I can do this.
I am at one of the biggest tech conferences in the United States, all by myself, and I have no one to eat lunch with, recap a great session, or explore the exhibition hall with.
“I GOT THIS!”, I think to myself. I am here to learn and I will just focus on that. Take a deep breath, find your session, and relax.
And then it happened…
I checked Twitter and saw a tweet to win a free book from Alice Keeler but to get the book, you had to locate her at the venue. I found her and many other people. When she found out I was alone she invited me to lunch, and through that casual meet up, we started a professional relationship.
That is how my PLN started, and it has been the single most impactful event of my teaching career.
A PLN is a Personal Learning Network. This is a group of people that you actively communicate, collaborate, create, challenge, empower, and support. It’s not a random batch of people you know but a personalized group of people with the same shared interest, goals, and focus as you.
Follow these three easy steps to starting or growing your own PLN.
STEP 1: Social Media
- Connect with people on Twitter. Search for people with similar interests. If you are interested in Edtech you may want to follow Kasey Bell, Alice Keeler, and Matt Miller.
- Connect with people on Facebook. Facebook has groups that specialize in a select area. There is a HyperDocs group that allows you to share and get resources and Seesaw for teachers where teachers share tips and ideas for using Seesaw in the classroom.
- Instagram, Voxer, and Linkedin are also valuable social media sites. They will allow you an opportunity to follow people for content, resources, and communication. Voxer is great for people that like to talk and have an asynchronous conversation. You can visit this spreadsheet of educational Voxer groups to find one that is right for you.
- EduMatch uses the power of social media to help educators collaborate and connect with other educators around the globe. Check out their website, books, Twitter account, and podcast to learn how you can get connected today!
STEP 2: Chats & Educational Blogs
- Twitter Chats are a weekly meeting place for people to gather and discuss shared topics. They will typically last anywhere from one hour to thirty minutes. Chats allow you an opportunity to connect with hundreds of people at one time. Don’t forget to follow the people that will help you grow. #Tosachat, #Ditchbook, and #CUEChat are fantastic chats for Edtech and Coaching.
- Educational Blogs (EduBlogs) are blog posts that are written to amplify best practices in education. There are countless blogs out there so you need to search for what information will help you excel. You will be able to learn, share, search, and collaborate on different topics. I love to learn from Ditch That Textbook and Cult of Pedagogy. They always have quick tips and resources. I also love Innovating Play which features a blog post, resources, as well as a slow Flipgrid chat.
STEP 3: Conferences & Networks
- Attending a conference is another way to build your PLN. When you attend sessions you are able to connect with your presenters. There are various gatherings where you can meet up with like-minded people and make connections. Some of my favorite conferences are ISTE and CUE. Don’t forget to reach out to your local CUE affiliate groups and state conferences. It will be easy to grow your PLN there. Local Edcamps are free and a fun way to meet up with educators in your area.
- Network, network, network. Joining a club, group, or team that encourages growth in your area of expertise will surely grow your PLN. You will have chances to connect with leaders in your field and this could lead to collaboration opportunities, brainstorming ideas, and creating resources to grow your craft.
I encourage you to not work alone in your career. Build connections with people, share your work, and resources. Build a community that will inspire, uplift, and empower you.
While attending one conference I was able to make connections with some amazing people that have made a huge impact on my pedagogy and career.
We are truly #BetterTogether.