By Teachers, For Teachers
If you’re looking to invest in a personal learning network (PLN) that goes beyond the walls of your school, then you should know that you can learn a lot from people across the globe who can help improve your teaching methods. Everyone has room to improve, right? Before we discuss why you should invest your time in creating one, we must first talk about what a personalized learning network is. A PLN (Personalized Learning Network) as they call it, is a customized online learning platform for educators where you can make connections and build relationships with other educators like yourself. You can also connect with administrators, college professors, and other experts from across the globe. If you’re imagining it to be like Facebook, it’s not. You’re not sharing pictures of what you ate or talking about politics. What you are doing is improving your teaching methods by staying up-to-date on the latest in education, as well as connecting with your peers and gaining knowledge by sharing your resources and collaborating with others.
There are many ways to create a PLN. You can set up a Twitter account and search hashtags to help you connect with people. You can join an online community of teachers, start your own blog, or subscribe to other educational blogs. You can also attend online webinars or join Facebook groups where teachers share stores, support one another, and share teaching strategies and ideas with one another.
You should invest your time in a PLN because you can find around-the-clock inspiration, learn all about the latest in educational technology, and make connections with some amazing educators from across the globe. Here are a few more reasons why a PLN is a great investment for your teaching career.
The great thing about a PLN is that the resources are infinite. If you want to learn more about the latest in educational technology, then you can connect with an expert on that specific topic. You have the opportunity to connect with people from around the world who specialize in anything that you are looking to gain knowledge. You can chat online, connect via Skype or Facetime, or even plan a meetup to learn more from your new connections. Whatever you want to learn about is at your fingertips.
Being a connected educator means that you will be able to gain insight into many different viewpoints. The great thing about an online PLN is that not everyone that you connect with will have the same point of view as you. These individuals will challenge you, and help you understand a different perspective than your own.
Another great thing about making connections and gaining new insights though a PLN is that these people can help you teach your students. For example, if you have a student who is struggling and your way just isn’t working for them, then you can ask your PLN and get a different point of view on how to help your student. As you know, not every child will learn the same, so the way you may be teaching them may not be working for that particular child. By asking your PLN for their advice, you have a better chance of reaching that struggling student.
As you know, being a teacher can be a stressful job, and sometimes you don’t get the support from your school district colleagues as much as you should. Having an online support system can help you vent and cope with anything that you’re struggling with in and outside of the classroom. These people know how you feel and can share in your struggles. They support you and can help you work through any problem you may be going through. Think of them as your virtual therapists.
PLNs are amazing because once you create one, you’ll never run out of ideas on what to do with your students. Think of your PLN as your own personalized lesson planning finder. Like we discussed earlier, the resources are endless, and so are the ideas for your classroom.
In order to build a successful Personalized Learning Network, you should start by spending about 20 minutes a day interacting and connecting with people within your PLN. You can do this by following educators on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+. Read educational blogs, follow educational chatrooms, and accept invitations to connect and collaborate. Once you do this, you will see your professional network grow.
Do you have a Personalized Learning Network? What are you favorite ways to connect? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.