I recently made a new header for my Twitter page because I wanted to express how connecting to others has not only changed my classroom practice but also probably my future. I have done my fair share of travelling the globe over the years but I don’t think I had ever really travelled minds and thinking to such an extent until I started the Coetail journey a year ago. And that’s just it, it’s a journey now that will continue and who knows where it will take me?
When I first joined the Coetail community I was so focused, no, obsessed with reading everything I could, writing my blog, getting my head around WordPress and publishing to the world, I didn’t realise how my PLN was slowly growing. Before long, by reading others’ blogs and commenting and asking questions, I realised that this community was helping and reassuring me in my learning in a way I could not have imagined. As well as attending excellently designed and executed Professional Development, I am now designing and directing my own.
I started to connect to others in different ways and for different reasons.
- Because they teach the same age group,
- Because I connect to what they say that it makes me want to visit their school, try their ideas, or just reply
- Because the experiences are so different or the age group, subject, roles are so different , it helps me to broaden my thinking
- Because I think/know they can answer some of my questions that I have about why and what I can do in the classroom
- Because we are trying to solve the same problems- a problem shared etc.
Global and local PLN.
Building a community is just as important locally as globally and I noticed that since starting Coetail I was also extending my PLN at school. Colleagues were interested in things I was sharing and asking me more.
I noticed that the Coetailers were building an important connection with Lower, Middle and Upper school colleagues that hadn’t happened before. In my last post I talked about the importance of a ripple affect to effect change. I suppose that is what has happened in my teaching as a result of my PLN- all those I have asked, listened to, read, connected with, have had that amazingly powerful ripple affect on my classroom practice, on the Grade 1 team and the school as a whole. Through my PLN , I’m helping other colleagues at school make those connections and think about extending theirs.
Because my PLN has taken me all over the world in my thinking, has pushed, changed, inspired and sometimes reinforced my ideas, answered wonders and problems, why would I not help my students do the same? Here is where I can see the powerful effect of my PLN, here is where I can model to my students that their future is collaboration.
This is where my students’ growing PLN is taking them on their travels and understanding and hopefully on their way to making a difference.
# oops moments.
I credit reference to this video to my PLN and Megan Kuemmerlin’s global book club #GBCreatingInnovators . We had our first Google Hangout this Sunday and due to my ‘oops moment’ wasn’t able to connect to the hang out. Problem solving, and thanks to Megan I watched it live on Youtube and tweeted comments. What was so great about the Google Hangout was that I could actually get to ‘meet’ people who are part of my PLN.
Isn’t this where true learning, innovation and problem solving comes from? The road to building my PLN has been full of these ‘oops moments’.
I joined Twitter in July 2015 and honestly, it took me at least 6 months to understand what I was doing and feel confident to share my thoughts, ask direct questions, and join Twitter chats. I enjoyed being a lurker for a while, taking in the connections, and ideas because reflecting on all those articles, conversations and powerful statements or questions helped me to develop my own voice.
Everyone else is full of knowledge, skills and has really interesting things to say. When I look at how many followers others have in comparison, I used to feel insecure, but then I realised that you contribute in order to get. The moment I started investing regular time and participation in Twitter, there was a turning point. People were beginning to reply to my tweets and I was building not only my PLN but also my professional profile and footprint. What’s important for me is that my tweets represent my voice and that’s when the connections really start to happen.
Sustained interactions are important. In August I started regularly joining the #AfricaEd slowchats and appreciate being able to dip in and out of the conversations during teaching breaks.
I also use direct message via Twitter to build detail and real specifics into the conversation.
Continue to learn through my PLN, but more importantly, share my voice more and louder.
I can’t finish my post without giving a shout out to Tricia Friedman whose blog posts are a regular part of my PLN.
Although my network may not be a galaxy, it’s growing. I will continue my journey. My PLN has no limits and no destination, that’s what’s so exciting. Thank you to all who are contributing.
This is my voice: