Although we all want to continue to grow professionally, not everyone relishes a professional development seminar. Still, we all need to be proactive about searching out professional development that will help us we grow in the areas that are most important for us personally. Luckily, there is an untapped wealth of resources and instructional strategies just waiting for you online. Finding those materials can be difficult, however, if you are searching randomly each time you need a resource. It is much more effective to develop your own personal learning network, or “PLN,” of professionals who have experienced the same challenges that you do.
As I began to develop my own personal learning network, I felt a bit intimidated, but it turned out that it was easy to find professionals who provide many useful resources, articles, and ideas to a large network.
One of the questions you might ask is, “When do I have the time for this?” To me, it’s not a question of creating more time, but a matter of adjusting time spent on social media. Switching time spent on your own personal social media to reading professional content on social media is a good start. In particular, I have found Twitter and educational blog portals wonderful places to connect and share with others with similar interests. Wasted time can easily be converted into time in which I am reading about how a literacy specialist is engaging her English language learners (ELL’s) in the mainstream classroom, or about math resources that can be used to push advanced students or support those needing greater assistance. I follow 235 Twitter accounts, roughly 200 of which are educational professionals, and find a huge amount of useful content shared there.
Your PLN can be most useful when you save ideas for future use in addition to using it as a means for solving immediate problems. For example, at the beginning of one school year I saw a post by Dwight Nelson in which he shared a PDF of a book (Steps to Personal Revival) that later became the morning devotional for our school’s faculty worship time. Another time, I found a nifty app, Genius Scan, that has effectively replaced my need for physical scanner machines. When developed to meet your own needs, a PLN can help you with simple tasks also while providing a window into cutting edge educational research.
You can start your personal PLN whenever you want by picking a social media platform or education blog portal and signing up. If you choose to use Twitter for this purpose, you can login into or create a Twitter account, then select the search option at the bottom of your Twitter app to find professionals to follow. Here are some resources you may find helpful:
Twitter Accounts to Follow
- Spectrum Magazine’s Top Adventists on Twitter
- teachSDA: A learning community for Seventh-day Adventist educators
- Adventist CIRCLE’s Twitter Account
- Mr. KemoNZ’s Top 30 Educators to Follow on Twitter
Other Resources for Developing Your PLN