7 tips for teachers building collaborative, fearless PLNs

1. Identify a mentor
Every teacher was once a new teacher and experienced the emotions of learning about their students, school, pedagogy, and all that paperwork. Remember that any trepidation you may have about your practice have most likely come from questions posed by another educator in your building. Identifying a mentor or key collaborator within your immediate environment should be your first step. Find someone you can work with, bounce ideas off, and say, “No, that won’t work.” This doesn’t have to be a formal process, but instead should develop as more of an ongoing conversation, an opportunity to reach out and just ask questions.

2. Build a PLN outside of your building
As important as it is to have a go-to in the building it is equally important to have other points of view and opinions. Extend your PLN from your local mentor to the entire globe. PLNs allow you to use technology to pull ideas and resources to you as well as push out your thoughts and ideas. There are a multitude of resources available to begin building a professional learning network. Here are some of our favorites:


  • Twitter. If you have not participated in Twitter Chats these are fantastic ways to connect at a deep level. There are hundreds of Twitter chats taking place at scheduled times. A schedule for Twitter Chats can be found here. If you are new to chats, you can start by passively reading them without getting involved. Follow people in chats specific to your interests and look to see who they follow for additional ideas.
  • Teachability is a social network developed by Pearson. Find “Communities” to follow where you can ask questions, share breakthroughs, and respond to others. There is a community specifically for new teachers.
  • Edmodo. While many educators use Edmodo as a Learning Management System for their students, Edmodo offers much more. There are communities for educators to share and ask questions, and communities for topics including Common Core, professional development, and careers and tech.
  • Google+ not only has communities available for you to join, but gives you the ability to create your own.
  • Pinterest is a place to connect with others, learn from others, and share your own content in a visually appealing format.


3. Grow in stages
As we stated earlier developing a PLN is a process. There are several stages that you will experience as you develop your very own personalized learning network. Jeff Urtecht wrote a great blog post of his interpretation of the stages: immersion, evaluation, know-it-all, perspective, and balance. Finally, share your ideas. Ideas spread around the globe like wildfire and it is a confidence boost when someone else benefits from your ideas (or in turn hears how you benefited from theirs).

Next page: How to give back to your PLN


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