The Power of a PLN

Football.

The quarterback throws to the receiver. The receiver locks his eyes on the ball soaring through the air. Teammates block opponents from intercepting the catch. The receiver catches the ball, turns toward the end zone, as teammates continue to block any opponent coming his way. He goes all the way! Touchdown!

A football team has one purpose: to score and win.

Everyone needs a team.

A group of people committed to working together, learn, challenge each other, and overcome obstacles. Enter the professional learning network or PLN.

A PLN is a collective environment of professional learners who come together to continue to grow and learn to improve themselves as educators, and to enhance the art of teaching to positively impact student growth, development, success, and achievement.

The term traditionally refers to PLCs or professional learning communities. In recent years, there has been a growing trend for this community of learners to develop the same kind of relationship on social media, specifically, Twitter.

Reasons are endless to join the growing PLN on Twitter.

My article, “Who’s Your Growth Partner? Pushing One Another to Greatness & Beyond,” highlights the importance of the educational PLN on Twitter and rich PLN chats scheduled regularly on Twitter.

One of those chats, PD4UandMe, hosted by Teresa Gross, Pam Hubler, and Emily Francis is the inspiration for this article.

When I realized Twitter was more than just a social arena, PD4UandME was one of the first social media PLNs I joined. The chat is free flowing and conversational rather than question-driven. Herein lies the beauty of PD4UandMe. The conversation is taken wherever the PLN needs it to go under the umbrella of topic of the morning.

One conversation led to the facilitators creating a private group for edubloggers. The group is a space for bloggers to challenge each other to push through time management, writer’s block, and fear. Bloggers also celebrate successes, accomplishment, and meeting goals.

Recently, during a weekly PD4UandMe PLN chat about – of all things – blogging, Carol Salva, co-author of Boosting Achievement made a reference to her podcast.

I have been researching podcasting for quite some time. I have dreamed of having a podcast, but the talk of RSS Feed, hosting on a different platform from a blog, pushing out to Spotify, ITunes…it all quickly became overwhelming to me. Intimidating is a better word. I didn’t know which hosting platform is better than the other for a novice. Nor did I understand some of the terminology.

I raised my white flag in this chat and told Carol Salva that I really wanted to have my own podcast and shared my challenges.

She responded saying she would DM me with a contact who could help me.

Within moments, in the middle of a chat about blogging, Carol messaged me and included a wonderful colleague of hers, Stephen Hurley. Stephen is the architect and chief catalyst of Voiced.ca, an intellectually stimulating online radio forum connecting listeners and readers with live interviews, deep-thinking educational conversations, blogs, and podcasts.

Our direct messaging conversation took off wonderfully. It quickly turned into an online meeting, then making plans for a podcast, all of which led to a live interview on Voiced.ca!

I need you to understand that all of this happened in 72 short hours! All because of my active involvement in a Twitter PLN. The blogging chat was on Saturday morning and the live interview was Monday evening!

I am eternally grateful for my PLN colleagues around the world who are helping me make one of my biggest goals become a reality.

I think I can consider myself an authority on the value of the Twitter PLN.

I recently saw a post challenging the value of PLNs on social media.

When you can have coffee in your pajamas with superintendents, international speakers, best-selling authors, consultants, power house leaders in education, budding teachers, veteran teachers, teachers on fire, teachers who need support and are thirsty to connect with other teachers to help bring back the spark…there’s no better place to grow a PLN!

My advice?

  • Get a Twitter account yesterday.
  • Start small. Choose a PLN and be consistent in reading, communicating, and learning.
  • Remember to be balanced. Not only should you post, you should interact with others who post.

Are you ready to join the football team of educators?

Leave a comment and let me know which PLN you will visit first and why.

You’ve got this!

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