Guest blog post by Amy Storer, Learning Ambassador
Not too long ago, I sat and watched a friend in Kansas connect with my friends in Montgomery, TX. As I was sitting there I started to reflect on the importance of connecting with others. The importance of knowing that we aren't the experts at everything and that reaching out for guidance and inspiration is more about growth than it is about deficit.
"It took me a while, as an educator, to come to this realization. To completely understand the Power of the PLN." -Amy Storer
What is a PLN? To me, a PLN (Personal Learning Network) is a group of professionals that thrive on the concept of "sharing is caring." The more that I think about the term PLN, it makes me think of a Kindergarten classroom or any classroom for that matter. When learners first enter elementary school, what is one of the first things that we teach them to do? Share. We foster a learning environment that encourages and inspires students to collaborate, share, and bounce ideas off one another. Isn't that exactly what a PLN is to us today as lead learners? So why, as educators, is it sometimes so hard for us to ask for help? Why does that fear sometimes win?
I didn't realize the power of connectivity until about 3 years ago, when I finally decided to start a classroom Twitter account. I was inspired by Kayla Delzer, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made as an educator-the decision to make my classroom more than the four walls that contained it. During that school year and the next, my kids connected with Ryan Davidson, a meteorologist from the weather channel (check out his story here), a Martian soil expert from Kansas (check out her story here), a college professor and her students from South Carolina, and so many more. Little did I know that meeting this college professor would mean so much to me and my profession!
Dr. Julie P. Jones was one of the first educators that I met on Twitter, and it was all because we (my 4th grade classroom) thanked her for being our 200th follower on Twitter. She quickly responded, but not just with a "thank you". She sent my kids some challenges about #make200. It was one of the first instances where I recognized the power that Twitter had, especially for my kids. Dr. Julie P. Jones is a professor at Converse College in South Carolina, and she works with educator prep students. Because of our initial connection, our classes soon connected for other reasons! My 4th grade students visited with her college age students about classroom management, technology tools, and classroom jobs. They loved being able to voice their thoughts about the classroom and education with future teachers.
A year later, we finally met in real life! We presented about Twitter at a conference in Orlando, FL called ATE on the magic in social media. It was such a surreal experience to meet one of my Twitter heroes!!
I am forever blessed to know and love my PLN, and I have Twitter to thank for that!