It’s been an unusual start to the school year. I have my largest class ever. I went on strike. It’s the middle of October, but only the 26th day of school. Things feel a little weird.
In times like this, it’s easy to lose focus or become frustrated. When reflecting on how I’ve been able to navigate this alternate universe, I realized my professional network has sustained me during this challenging time. I’m so grateful for my many dedicated colleagues from a variety of PLN’s who have kept me going. I know it is their support, enthusiasm, optimism and innovation that has inspired me to “keep on keepin’ on.” Thank you PLN! What would I do without you?
As a new teacher, my learning network was small and focused on colleagues in my building. I didn’t have access to many outside professional development opportunities. I looked to veteran teachers for advice and expertise and I tried new teaching strategies in the safety of my classroom. Nowadays, my learning network is easy to access and endless! I learn from teachers who have made their practice and pedagogy transparent through blogs, websites and Twitter. I’m trying new lessons and inviting feedback from educators that I’ve never met face-to-face. It’s a whole new ballgame and we all have an amazing opportunity to join the learning.
Just this week I’ve learned from and been inspired by…
- The wonderful teachers of #1stchat! Via Twitter I collaborate with 1st grade teachers around the world every Sunday at 7:00 CST. We discuss a new topic every week ranging from reading workshop to inquiry. It’s amazing how much you can learn in 140 characters! At the end of each session we swap book titles or new tech tools we’re using with our students. I get fabulous ideas each week. Every grade has some type of grade level chat throughout the week. Join Twitter and search #(grade level)chat to learn more.
- The Chicago Public Schools iPad Project–wow! I’ve been blessed to meet outstanding educators from across the city who are teaching jaw-dropping technology (among other things!). Last night I spent an hour on Google hangout with teachers from NTA developing a PBL experience that is cross-school and cross-grades. Our students will collaboratively question, research and share information via blog, twitter and Edmodo. How could I not be excited by an idea like that?
- My outstanding colleagues at school! I work with the most amazing people. Though we have less time to collaborate than ever before, I rely on them at a moments notice to help me think critically about my students’ needs, analyze work samples and plan rigorous curriculum. They are thoughtful, experienced educators and well-versed in best practice instruction. They are available at 6:30 AM, 6:30 PM and practically any hour of the day via text message. We collaborate digitally almost every day, but the face-to-face interactions are most meaningful. With just a look they inspire.
PLN’s can motivate and excite any teacher. We all need a support team and joining a PLN or expanding your network can provide countless opportunities for learning. We need to recognize what a tremendous resource we are for ourselves and others. Are you already a member of a PLN? If so, take a moment to honor them! Do you know a fabulous network that others could benefit from? Spread the word and start the conversation now.
Take time to celebrate the PLN!