The thirty or so of us certified staff members at my school, in the broad scheme of things, is pretty small, and while I do certainly count them to be the core of my Personal Learning Network, I'm learning that I need to begin incorporating more resources and individuals into my PLN.
Another reason why I need to expand my PLN is the lack of consistent, timely professional development opportunities that exist for my position. I always attend the CECA (Connecticut Educators Computer Association) every October, and I always feel like it's too much information to take in over the course of one eight hour day. The professional development in our district lately has turned into a series of training modules for Common Core implementation and SBAC testing. ACES used to offer consistent technology workshops throughout the school year; either due to funding or interest, those have dropped off as well.
Enter the need to broaden my PLN. Dr. Mark Wagner's article titled, "Personal Learning Networks for Educators: 10 Tips" (2012) asks pointed questions about teachers' Personal Learning Networks: "Who is in your learning network? Who do you learn from on a regular basis? Who do you turn to for your own professional development?" It is becoming more evident that I need to be able to access reliable, up-to-date collaboration in real-time. I need to be able to throw a question out there and see who responds. I need to be able to offer my opinions and suggestions based on my authentic experiences as a technology teacher in order to grow.
As a result of this course and Wagner's article, I've expanded my PLN to include my cohort members, a Twitter feed that is working (!), a new Pin on Pinterest that doesn't have to do with chickens or gardening or honeybees and a membership to Classroom 2.0.
The best part? I get to play AND I'm more excited about my work than ever.
Click here for Dr. Wagner's article