How Much Time Should you Devote to Your PLN?

Ah, summertime. Time to recharge batteries, refocus and reflect on the previous year and make plans for August and September. I've taken a bit of a hiatus from writing but as I just hit the official calender day which signals only two weeks left of summer. Bummer.

It's funny how some moments from the previous year stick with you. One of the more noteable for me was from a graduate school collegue that told me that everytime she spoke to me she felt dizzy and overwhelmed, mostly for my advocacy for building a professional learning network.

Image Courtesy of CC

Why Build a Professional Learning Network?

In a profession where it's easy to stagnate, connecting with educators has been (for me) the most invigorating experience. Cool Cat teacher Vicki Davis said "If you don't innovate, you depreciate" which is so true. Having a constant stream of ideas allows teachers to explore new methodolgy, which keeps them current and gives participants the opportunity to move out of isolation. I'm in awe of how educators are using this tool for collaborative projects, crowdsourcing, and flattented classrooms. Some are eagerly getting on board, some others are resistant. Why?

I Don't Have Time for This. True, to a teacher with marking and huge class sizes, how do you find the time? Busy paperwork and curriculum often zaps our time. In my first few years of teaching at my current school I was uber busy with curriculum alignment and development and building quality lessons and assessments. Now that they're in place, I have more time to tap into chat rooms with other educators in order to share resources and ask for feedback.

This is a Waste of Time. Web 2.0 is a two way street. If you are merely a "lurker" and don't respond to prompts, don't offer your two cents, don't be surprised if others don't do the same. In the early stages, don't be surprised if you inquries have not gotten many replies. As your reader and followers grow, your tendency for replies will as well. As many teachers are starting to implement CC standards this fall, twitter has been a very accessible tool on how to do this.

I Can't Keep Up With All These New Tools! No one can. If you want your students to build a presentation, you'll easily find a dozen software programs to do the job. Must you and your students learn how to use ever one of these tools? Of course not. But you may find some are more interesting, interactive and versitile than others.

Image Courtesy of CC

Learn from your PLN and share what you've learned with your collegues be it either in house PD or at team level or division meetings. You'll be surprised at the great applications your sharing has for your coworkers. From there, it's not much more effort to apply to present at a local or regional conference. From there, is writing your first book that far off?

I think back to that collegue of mine and her question: how much time should you give to doing this? I told her: "As much as you want". Some weeks I log onto Edmodo a couple times a weeks, some times, none. I usually have Tweetdeck open on my task bar and tap into Google Reeder (now Feedly) at the end of the day or weekends exclusively. You get out of it what you put into it. Isn't that the case with anything in life?

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