My PLN (Professional Learning Network) is my Education BFF (Best Friend Forever)! That's how I feel about my PLN! It is not easy to teach in isolation, but I did, for many years. No more! I have surrounded myself with educators from all over the world and I, and my students, have profited educationally, from my actions.
I have learned more in the last year since I discovered, and joined a number of Professional Learning Networks and/or Communities, then I have in my 27 years of teaching. No exaggeration!!
What should a PLN provide? Here are what, I believe, are important aspects of a good PLN:
- Your opinion matters! Sometimes people get caught up in listening to 'experts" and we forget that we are all experts in this field. We all have something to add.
- You get feedback, whether you ask a question, state an opinion, or provide information. (Not all the time, but at some point)
- Collaborate with people who share a common interest.
- It provides a forum for active, current, relevant, discussions. (My favorite part)
- They are willing to share. (Otherwise, what's the point of being in a PLN?)
- You gain relevant information that is useful.
Edmodo communities - You have to join Edmodo in order to join the communities. A plethora of information in every subject! Just a bunch of teachers, online, talking and sharing information. Have a question? It will be answered. It is very rare that I see a question or comment posted where a teacher does not get at least one response. You can share links, blogs, files, projects, etc..., and then place them in your Edmodo library so that you don't lose it.
Linkedin- It's not just for networking, even though that's a great aspect of it. I am a part of a number of groups on Linkedin. Edubloggers, Elementary School Teachers of America, Teacher's Lounge, and last, but not least, Technology Integration in Education. Not only do we share information, but the discussions generated in these groups are lively and informative! This is another PLN where if you need advice, guidance, or ideas, plenty of teachers will jump in to help!
And of course, Twitter, where I have made many, many, connections. I use Twitter more as a "get information" and "meet other teachers" source. I participate in "edchats", which provides a venue on any and all topics in education. And just like the other PLNs, it is a HUGE source of information, ideas, and discussion.
I also subscribe to Education sites and blogs so that I can stay current with what's going on in our field. And let's not forget your school and district PLN/PLC!
You don't need all the PLNs I mentioned above, especially if you are new to teaching, but just like a best friend, it's nice to have at least one to turn to when you need help!