Saturday, September 5, 2015

The POWER of a PLN

Recently, I asked a question of one of my Voxer groups...a valued and trusted part of my PLN. The response and subsequent conversation was incredible. In fact, we are still in the middle of the discussion.

This experience caused me to reflect on the power of having a PLN. I have many different groups of educators in my PLN. This particular group of teachers all started off in 5th grade, yet despite a few grade level moves and one cross-country move, we continue to connect. They are: Jess-a 5th grade teacher from Chicago (@JessLif), Rob-a 5th grade teacher from NY (@Mr_U79), Rosy-a 5th grade teacher recently transplanted to Delaware (@rosy_burke), Cara-a former 5th, now 4th grade teacher from Kansas City (@cahillcara) and me...who recently made a job switch to 6th ELA in middle school. Quite an eclectic bunch, yet a close-knit and friendly bunch.

Today was a question about writers notebooks, reading response journals and/or iPads. My students will be 1:1 iPads, and I wanted advice about whether to use them for all writing or not. After this thoughtful discussion, I have a better understanding of the benefits and limitations of both tools, and I have a plan. Change is always a little scary, and hardly ever gets going without a hitch. Good educators question and seek advice on best practice. They reach out, as I did.

My PLN was there for me today.

I have another incredible PLN of Minnesota educators, who connect via Voxer. My "besties" Kim (@khurdhorst) and Jenny (@JennyWamsley), incredible principals like Brad (@GustafsonBrad), Mark (@PrincipalFrech), Dawn (@dawnbrown11), Jen (@jenhegna), Sharon (@SharonHendrix1), Tech leaders like Chris (@TurnbullChris), Leslie (@LPralleKeehn) and Andrea (@halversonandrea) and fellow teachers Kory (@korytellers) and Sarah (@SarahBosche1). We chat about life as MN educators, often discussing current issues and sharing ideas and accomplishments.

Then, there are my Twitter chat PLNs: #tlap, #5thchat, #6thchat, #sstlap, #satchatwc, #titletalk, #whatisschool, and most recently #2ndaryela and #ditchbook. Led by some of the greatest educators/authors/speakers and game-changers in the field of education, and joined by incredible educators from all over the globe, these chats push me and inspire me.

My PLN has expanded with a couple of new and exciting additions: Facebook groups. I feel lucky to connect with other like-minded educators in FB communities such as Notice & Note, 7th-9th grade ELA Teachers, and Kelly Gallagher Inspired Teachers. Members of these groups ask questions, share resources, vent, and seek advice. There is no hierarchy in this group. No fees collected. Just open, generous, incredibly knowledgeable educators with shared goals. These teachers want what's best for their students and know that more heads are better than one.

Of course, there is my new group of 16 teachers (including me) on my 6th grade middle school team. This is my daily face-to-face PLN. Except for one of us, Leona (@luinien), we all came from elementary. It's our first time at the middle school rodeo, and we will need each other for support, laughter, some tears, and camaraderie.

I am a better teacher because of the POWER of my PLN

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