For many people teaching can often feel very isolated. That is an interesting thought considering how many students teachers interact with on a daily basis. At the high school, my colleagues may see 150+ people every day and yet, they could very easily feel as though they are on an educational island, alone. Just as I tell my students every year, being connected makes the educational experience so much more meaningful. I encourage them to join a sports team or club on campus because I know that it will add tremendously to their high school experience. That is true, not just for students, but for teachers as well.
In creating a “Popplet” (Popplet.com) of my own Professional Learning Network, I came to realize how lucky I am to have forged so many great connections in my professional life.
At the local level I feel very connected to what is happening at my school. I have sought out opportunities to be a part of the professional development team. This has allowed me to connect with many of my amazing colleagues, in particular in a technology group that I facilitate. In addition, as a Special Education teacher, part of my job is to work as a co-teacher in the general education setting. Through this part of my job I have connected with several other fabulous teachers at my school. In the past couple of years I have also had the opportunity to connect with other tech loving teachers at the district level. I always felt invigorated when I left meetings with the Tech Task Force group. That experience is a big part of why I decided to pursue a Masters in Educational Technology.
Thanks to the Internet it is now easier than ever to grow professional connections on a global scale. There are several blogs/people that I follow who post great tips and tricks about technology for education. One thing I noticed while creating this visual of my PLN is that most of my online connections are unidirectional. I read content that other educators put out, but don’t contribute to the conversation. I have made it a goal to become more interactive with my online PLN. Just as my connection to my school grew when I became a contributing member of professional development, I think that by contributing in the online community I can gain even greater benefits.