Welcome to second step in our free professional learning series on building your PLN.

In the first step, we unpacked the definition of a PLN and looked at the benefits of being a connected educator.

You may now be wondering how to begin building your own PLN.

The aim of this step is to:

  1. Offer an overview of how to build a PLN
  2. Provide a snapshot of some tools educators use to connect with their PLN
  3. Share tips for connecting with educators from around the globe
  4. Discuss barriers to building a PLN

The Networked Teacher

Around a decade ago, Alec Couros created two diagrams that have been shared thousands of times.

This first diagram demonstrates how a teacher would traditionally connect and learn.

Image by Alec Couros, CC CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This diagram of “The Networked Teacher” demonstrates just some of the ways that educators can connect now that technology is at their fingertips. Note, the “old” ways of connecting are still there.

The Networked Teacher diagram by Alec Couros showing the different media that educators can connect with -- blogs, social bookmarking, chat etc.
Image by Alec Couros (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Alec’s brother George reminds us that the arrows go back and forth and it’s not only about what you consume but what you create. You can give as well as receive.

What Tools Are Used?

Teachers from all over the globe are online and learning together, but where exactly do you find these teachers and develop working relationships with them?

In a 2016 study called “Together we are better: Professional Learning Networks For Teachers”, K-12 teachers were asked how they use PLNs.

The most popular tool in the sample was Twitter with 53% of participants indicating that they used this tool to connect with others.

Other popular tools listed in the survey included blogs, Edmodo, Facebook, Discovery Education Network, and Pinterest.

84% of survey participants indicated that they use more than one medium or site.

How Are Teachers Connecting On Online Platforms?

Teachers use social media and other online spaces in a variety of ways to connect with their PLN.

Here are ten examples:

  1. Twitter — Educators follow people they’re interested in, ranging from “thought leaders” to everyday teachers in a similar subject area or age group. Teachers also use hashtags to follow topics of interest, and join Twitter chats to discuss ideas in real time. Be sure to follow Edublogs and CampusPress on Twitter. The next step in this series will explain how to start using Twitter.
  2. Facebook — Educators follow pages and profiles of people and businesses involved in education. They also join Facebook groups to post questions, ask for feedback, and respond to others. Visit our Edublogs Facebook page and Facebook for Education to start learning something new.
  3. Instagram — You can follow educators to get new ideas for lessons, activities, learning spaces and more. Hashtags make it easy to search for topics you’re interested in. Check out Tony Vincent’s Guide to Instagram For Teachers.
  4. Pinterest — Pinterest is ultimately a ‘discovery engine’ and is becoming a go-to for many educators looking for fresh ideas, resources, and connections. Be sure to follow Edublogs on Pinterest!
  5. Blogs — Blogs play an important role in most educators’ PLNs. This might include reading blogs from a variety of different people or writing your own blog. Visit Step Five of this series for more information.
  6. Email newsletters — There might be an educator, thought leader, or blogger who you really enjoy following. Chances are, they have an email newsletter that you can subscribe to for free to have curated news and contented delivered straight to inbox!
  7. Voxer — This walkie-talkie like tool can be used as an app on your mobile device or on your computer. Educators can engage in both synchronous and asynchronous conversations about their professional practice. Learn more in this article on Voxer by Amy Heavin.
  8. YouTube — Video is a powerful medium. Many teachers enjoy following a selection of YouTube channels to keep up to date with a variety of topics. Check out Kasey Bell’s 20 YouTube Channels for Educators to find some channels that might interest you.
  9. LinkedIn — Considered a “professional” social networking platform, educators can connect with a large community of professionals on LinkedIn. Explore this collection of 25 LinkedIn groups for networking teachers via Fractus Learning.

Feel free to share this graphic on your blog or with your colleagues.

Popular ways educators are learning with their PLN Edublogs Teacher Challenge

Tips For Developing Relationships

PLNs are all about relationships! Here are a few tips to consider as you begin to build your PLN.

  1. Invest some time in building your PLN. Set aside even 15 or 20 minutes a day and you’ll build momentum in no time.
  2. PLNs work both ways. Remember, the more you share, the more you’ll find you receive in return.
  3. Try different tools. There are so many different forms of social media, online tools, and ways to connect. Dip your toes in and see how educators are using various tools.
  4. Find tools that work best for you. While it’s definitely worth giving things a try, not every platform is for everyone. Choose to dedicate time to the tools you enjoy and find the most rewarding.
  5. Follow up with people. If someone connects with you whether it’s through a tweet, blog comment, Facebook group, or any platform, thank them, ask a question, and get to know them. These are the building blocks of forming a relationship.
  6. Ask for help. If you find someone who already has a number of connections (on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or wherever) ask them to introduce you to others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re figuring out how various platforms work either.
  7. Curate wisely. If you want to share interesting resources with people in your PLN, make sure you read beyond a headline and share things you think will be truly useful.
  8. Diversify. Try to connect with people with diverse opinions and points of view. It’s easy for “birds of a feather to flock together”, however, sometimes there is more to gain from communicating with a range of people from different backgrounds.
  9. Involve your students. Once you get to know a few educators, you might start to think about ways you can connect your students. Check out our Edublogger’s Guide To Global Collaboration for lots of ideas.
  10. Spread the word. As you begin to explore PLNs and online communities, share this information with others in your school or district. Maybe they don’t realize this wonderful virtual opportunity exists!

Barriers To Creating A PLN

In our first step, we looked at many of the advantages of building a PLN. If the benefits of being a connected educator are clear, what holds so many teachers back from building their own PLN?

Perhaps the first obstacle is that many teachers simply don’t know about PLNs. They don’t know there are thousands of educators from around the world who are online connecting, collaborating, and learning together.

Furthermore, Tom Whitby has outlined three deterrents to educators using PLNs as a tool for ongoing learning.

The PLN is a mindset, not the outcome of a workshop or the PD offered annually by many school districts. It is not a one-shot fix.

Teachers have learned through the “sit and get” model for generations. This mindset shift where you need to realize that you are responsible for your own learning and you can take control can be difficult to adapt to.

Additionally, prioritizing the investment in time that building a PLN requires would certainly be an obstacle for some. Step seven in this series offers some tips on finding time to invest in your PLN.

Successful users of PLNs overwhelm the uninitiated with techno-babble.

Hopefully, the future steps in this course can break down any overwhelming “techno-babble”.

You will probably find that many teachers who are regular uses of online technologies proclaim that they are “not very tech savvy”. Even George Couros who has a Twitter following of 224,000+ has said, “I’m not that good with technology and you probably aren’t either“.

It requires, at least at first, digital literacy beyond a Google search.

It is certainly essential that educators develop their digital literacy. As Silvia Tolisano has pointed out, our notion of what it means to be literate or illustrate calls for an update. 

... merely reading and writing in text form and on analog platforms is simply not enough to call yourself literate. The skills and abilities MUST include reading and writing in various media forms and on multiple platforms INCLUDING digital spaces. We can’t continue to differentiate between our analog and digital world. We live in ONE world after all.

If you feel like you need to improve your own digital literacy skills, don’t despair! You don’t need to learn everything before you embark on building your PLN. We will provide you with the essential tips and skills throughout this course and you can learn as you go.

If you feel like your skills need updating in other areas, such as blogging and online tools, we have other free courses you can work through at your own pace too.

Conclusion

Becoming a connected educator is something that takes work but has enormous advantages for both you and your students. In fact, many educators would say that it’s an essential responsibility of teachers to connect and commit to lifelong learning.

As George Couros has said, “Isolation is now a choice educators make“.

There are so many ways to free yourself from isolation. The following steps in this series breaks down three powerful avenues to becoming a connected educator — Twitter, blogs, and content curation.

Your Task

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation on building your own PLN by undertaking one or more of the following challenges:

  1. Preferences: We all enjoy connecting in different ways. Write a post or comment on this post about how you plan to connect with other educators. What sites or tools do you think you’d prefer to use to make connections. Why?
  2. Relationship tips: Revise our list of tips for developing working relationships with other educators. What resonates most with you? Do you have any ideas to add? Tell us in a comment.
  3. Barriers: We have identified some common barriers to building a PLN. Leave a comment and tell us what the biggest barrier has been for you (or others you know). Share your thoughts on how this obstacle can be overcome.

Also feel free to leave a comment to ask any questions or share your tips.

How to leave a comment: Scroll down to find the comment box. Write your comment, then enter your name and email address (email addresses are not published). Enter the anti-spam word. Press submit and we will moderate your comment ASAP.

509 thoughts on “Step 2: Making Connections

  1. I feel as if the list of tips provided hits all the points needed to curate an effective PLN. The tips resonate with me as there were a few that I already do that I can apply to my PLN within the future. The first aspect that resonates with me is “Follow up with people.” I feel strongly that following up with people on any matter is vital to the success of what you are doing along with gaining feedback that could potentially allow you to grow in a number of ways. The next tip that resonates with me is “Asking for help”. This is another point that I already do quite frequently and feel it has given me the opportunity to create thorough works and also assisted in building relationships with those guiding me that I can always come back to in the future with more questions. Both of these aspects already being practiced in other parts of my working life will benefit in the success of my PLN’s in the future by allowing me to be comfortable asking questions and not holding back in my attempts to create the best PLN that I can.

  2. I will connect with other educators by blogging, using Pinterest, and signing up for educational newsletters to be sent to my inbox. I must admit, I’m not big on social media. I’ve seen how harmful social media can be. It can zap away your time, make you less confident, and create a facade in opposition to reality. I do think that the PLNs I’m choosing to use are less distracting and less harmful than some others that exist. Blogging will allow me to fine tune what information I’m exposed to. Pinterest is good for gaining ideas from other educators. Email newsletters cuts down on me having to search for information, because it gets delivered directly to my inbox.

  3. Preferences: We all enjoy connecting in different ways. Write a post or comment on this post about how you plan to connect with other educators. What sites or tools do you think you’d prefer to use to make connections. Why?: I think something like LinkedIn but for teachers could be really helpful. You could join a group with others in your field or area and coordinate content and pedagogical methods with ease. Something like Pinterest would also be good for sharing ideas for or whole lesson plans. With the ubiquity of the internet, I feel like many websites could fill this role nicely.

  4. I plan to connect with other educators through Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. On these platforms I will reach out to and inspire other teachers through sharing posts with weekly updates on how my classroom is going (and asking how other teachers are doing in their school year), showing different crafts and learning ideas and through sharing photos of my classroom’s design. I feel I am already comfortable with Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest and I best know how to work through and with these platforms, in order to reach out to other educators, so I feel these are the best options for me to connect with other educators through.

  5. 1. I believe TikTok is one of the easiest places to grow a PLN in the education field and the one I prefer. There are likely thousands of teachers on the app sharing ideas, providing their perspective on new developments in the realm of education, and even just helping other teachers have a good laugh. The algorithm on the app is also very smart, so once you’ve interacted with your first ‘teachertok’ user, you are likely to be pushed many other videos from teachers on the platform, only helping you grow a PLN.

  6. Connecting with other educators is important to collaborate and share resources that could be helpful to the craft of teaching. Whether it be classroom management strategies, lesson plans, or activities, I think having a platform where that information is shared can be extremely helpful. Social media platforms such as twitter, instagram, pinterest, and facebook could be useful in reaching other educators. Educators can easily search groups to join or discussions being held online.

  7. When I first started my M.T. I thought that I had to make everything from scratch, and think of everything on my own in order to be a “good” teacher. I was soooooo wrong. I’m privileged to be in a tight knit program where we can all share our materials and collaborate on how to best create content for our students. Google (Google Drive, Google Slides, Google Docs, etc.) have changed the sharing game. We’ve been able to curate content from a variety of sources into individual places. I have a folder of “Teacher Stuff” that I’ve found from Pinterest, peers, Instagram, blogs, and a variety of other places. In terms of connecting with teachers, I’ve found my district to have a variety of platforms we can use to collaborate. A year ago I may have pointed to TeachersPayTeachers, but now I’ve found many places where there’s a give and take community, without monetary requirement. Readwritethink.org and goalbookapp.com are two sites I’ve been exposed to where teachers can upload any type of lesson or content to engage students from a variety of levels. I love using these sites because you’re able to connect so effortlessly. However, I will say you’re not forging relationships with other educators necessarily. When I’m looking to chat with or collaborate with other educators I often look to social media. I’ve had a lot of luck DMing random teachers I look up to that are “influencers” of the educational world, and they’ve replied. Social media has been such a tool of connection as I’ve embarked on my teaching career.

  8. A big barrier that I have thought about creating a PLN or engaging in a PLN is the fear of the unknown. A lot of the time, we become absorbed by our own ideologies and philosophies that it can make us too used to what we know that we forget or refuse to look outside the box. Coming from me, I have experienced different kinds of learning and been a product of different philosophies that it made me open to the world around me, and it taught me to not be afraid of taking inspiration from someone else. At the end of the day, having many resources, friends, and ideas from a learning network can be beneficial to expanding the ways in which teachers teach, use, and make new information.

  9. I think I would prefer to use LinkedIn and possibly a professional twitter account. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube seem to be platforms that either disseminate questionable information and/or provide false expectations and conceptions of teaching. There are a lot of fabulous looking classrooms and routines on Instagram and YouTube, but I think those are romanticised and highly edited views of what it is really like to teach and viewing those posts often can lead to a lot of self-doubt among educators. I feel that LinkedIn is great because you can see previous work experience, qualifications, and projects others have completed and then ask them questions. Twitter is nice because it is more informal and a quicker form of communication if you have an urgent concern or just want a more laid back conversation about your views of a certain topic.

  10. • I already use TikTok to connect with other educators, but once I actually become a teacher I might expand the sites I use and follow some educators on YouTube as well. I prefer these two platforms because they’re more thorough and tailor-made to my needs. TikTok’s algorithm seems to know me better than I know myself at times and I always end up coming across various teacher videos that I didn’t know I needed. The downside to TikTok is that it’s difficult to search for highly specific content, which is where YouTube comes into play. YouTube videos can go into much more detail since there isn’t a 3-minute limit and their search engine is more developed. Of course, the downside to YouTube is that the turnaround time for responses in the comments is all too slow (or just non-existent). Therefore, TikTok makes up for YouTube’s slow response time by allowing for actual conversations in the comment section within less than 24 hours.

  11. I am not a user of social media. As a result of this, some of the options listed above for building a PLN will not work for me. I refrain from social media for personal and moral reasons and do not believe I can use them for a PLN. Instead, I plan to use blogs and newsletters (perhaps creating an RSS feed) to connect with other educators. With that said, I can communicate with educators who do use PLNs that include social media to expand my PLN by extension.

  12. I plan to connect with other educators by going to events or conferences that I hear about in the area. In addition, that that joining different programs also support new relationships with other educators. A few sites that I really feel support making connection is LinkedIn, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Those 3 networks are a few of the most known sites that are booming in the area of making connection which are bringing a lot of people together.

  13. 1. Preferences: We all enjoy connecting in different ways. Write a post or comment on this post about how you plan to connect with other educators. What sites or tools do you think you’d prefer to use to make connections? Why?
    I plan on not only connecting with people in person but using online platforms. I use twitter regularly and I can see myself making mutual on there. I think Instagram or Facebook a great place to connect as well. I use Instagram and I follow people who have the same interests as me and I will do the same for when I begin to teach. Facebook is good for following pages that relate to you and the content you are searching for.

  14. I would 100% use twitter to connect with other educators. Twitter is very quickly becoming my news source, source for my friends, interests as well as comedy. So many people use it now and it is so simple. It suggests following specific hashtags and all the like information can all be found in one spot. It it easy to look though who likes the same things you life which helps with finding who is right for you to connect with.

  15. I would prefer to use apps like Pinterest and Castbox (podcasts) at first since those are tools I am already familiar with outside of my profession. I understand how to navigate them and make the post of each platform and interact with other members of the community. I also like engaging with blogs and getting ideas from there. I’m also familiar with apps like Linkedin and Youtube which have a lot of PD content on them and means for connection. I’m interested in using sites like Twitter or joining a Facebook group since those spaces tend to offer smaller and more personal communities than other platforms.

  16. 1. Preferences- I think my preferred tool to use to connect with educators would be Instagram and Pinterest. Obviously, with any social media platform, you have to curate what content you’re viewing. However, with Instagram, there are just so many amazing teachers and educators who are willing to share their knowledge and skills. Instagram is, also, the social media platform that I am the most comfortable with using. Pinterest is another great source of inspiration for educators. There’s thousands of posts with links to great information for classroom prep, lesson plans, activities, etc. So if I had to pick my preferred sites for collaboration and sharing content, it would be those two.

  17. Preferences: I think the sites that I plan to use to connect with others would be youtube, instagram and Tiktok. I already have found a bunch of different resources on these sites and when I am a teacher I possibly will be adding to these sites myself. With Tiktok it is very easy to connect with so many different people within the app. These sites I also use in my daily life so I already have experience with them.

  18. “Ask for help. If you find someone who already has a number of connections (on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or wherever) ask them to introduce you to others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re figuring out how various platforms work either” – This tip resonated with me, because this is a problem I have and I also know many other people who also have this problem. Asking for help can be a mundane aspect of the professional world, but it’s surprising how far it can get you. With the way we are structured to work and compete, asking for help can seem like a counter to our independence, or even a lack in our skills or ability. As I’ve continued to grow I realized that asking for help is one of the most important parts to becoming an elite at your profession. Creating a PLN is essential because networking is a key component to success. Once you’ve gained your network, you have to be comfortable with asking for help in order to reach the next level.

  19. One barrier to me to building a PLN is finding the time to do it outside of teaching, grading, prepping, and lesson planning. I feel as though there is often not enough time in the day to do all of these things and still prioritize your own mental health. One way that I can overcome this obstacle is to set small goals for myself and build it slowly instead of feeling overwhelmed and like I have to do it all at once. This way I can still feel accomplished in creating something new or finding a new resource even if it is spending just 10 minutes a day on Pinterest, Feedly, or Flipboard. Over time, my PLN will come together, but it will be important to remind myself that Rome was not built in a day and that not everything needs to be done immediately, especially when it is to best serve the needs of your students.

  20. I think Facebook is the best platform to use personally. You can to control who sees what the information you are referencing and the groups that you are joining. It can also eliminate any spam or unwanted views to your resource. It also creates a space to ask questions and get support from other educators.

  21. A preference that I have for connecting with other educators would be creating a blog, Google-Site, or Instagram that explicitly focuses on my teaching craft and ideas. This would help me share my ideas with other educators while also leaving room for hearing perspectives from other teachers around the world.

  22. When it comes to my preferred methods of communicating with other teachers, I prefer to keep things private. While teachers may not be the most tech-savvy, our students definitely are, and they are constantly looking up our names and trying to find any social media page that we have. I would much rather post anonymously about my educational questions and experiences so that students do not find that I am talking about them or read about personal experiences that I would not have wanted to share with children. Because of this, I think sites such as Reddit or Twitter (under a pseudonym) will allow me to more comfortably express my issues or experiences without the worry of others immediately discovering me. For teachers that I have already built personal connections with, I like to use websites such as Facebook to privately message one another and share ideas. Lastly, Google Drive is a huge tool for me and my teacher friends. We love to use it to share documents, resources, and lesson plans with one another.

  23. I would use Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to connect with other educators. These platforms are very up to date and contain a lot of feedback, ideas, and research from other educators. Personally, an educator can gain so much support just by joining groups on these platforms. I love the fact that you can share pictures, documents, and presentations on these platforms.

  24. I like to connect with other teachers through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and TikTok. It’s really fun to follow teachers you know or teachers that are very popular for different reasons (classroom management tips, organization, etc.). I find it easy and helpful to learn through others via pictures or videos and see what they have to say. I think it’s a great way to share ideas, tips, and advice about what works well in some classrooms.

  25. Preferences: We all enjoy connecting in different ways. Write a post or comment on this post about how you plan to connect with other educators. What sites or tools do you think you’d prefer to use to make connections. Why?
    – I plan to connect with other educator’s multiple different ways online such as Facebook and Instagram and possibly twitter though I do not have one at the moment. Instagram allows educators to share anything from work to their classroom set up which would be helpful to see how other teachers are doing it and what works and what doesn’t. With Facebook it is incredibly user friendly and allows teacher to search for exactly what they need and join groups that discuss topics we need help or others opinions on. Twitter would be a cool idea because it allows us to join chats to discuss certain content areas.

  26. I would like to use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to connect with other educators because they are easy to navigate and understand. They are all appealing to me because I think that most people already have a Facebook account so it seems like a natural progression to use it as a platform to form connections specific to interests and passions.Instagram has provided me with so many connections to other educators around the world. I think that Twitter tends to be a source that covers more current events and important topics within education.

  27. I feel like the easiest platform for me to use would be Twitter. Being that I am a coach, I already have a solid Titter footprint, so using this platform to help me build and grow my PLN would be the most effective and efficient way to do so. The ease of use and familiarity with the platform are also huge bonuses.

  28. I personally think Facebook is a great tool to connect with fellow educators. I think that it is much safer of an option than some of the newer social media platforms that are coming out. Something I like is that I can join “groups” without having to actually show all of my social media information to everyone. It allows me to share resources and get tips for what works with students in a manageable platform.

  29. Social media networks I believe to be the best way to build a PLN. I personally am well versed in Instagram, Twitter and Facebook therefore, making it easier for me to learn and engage with different people. By starting off on platforms that I am familiar with, I will then be able to branch out and join other platforms, or blogs that I see or read about from the pages I follow on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Social media allows for a plethora of knowledge, tools and ideas to be shared regardless of geographical location which allows learning to be endless for both the teacher and students.

  30. Preferences: We all enjoy connecting in different ways. Write a post or comment on this post about how you plan to connect with other educators. What sites or tools do you think you’d prefer to use to make connections. Why?

    I would say my favorite way to connect with other educators is through the use of social media. Three different platforms come to mind when I think of easy ways to connect.
    Twitter, FaceBook, and Instagram. They all have different ways of accomplishing the same purpose.
    Twitter- Twitter allows for teachers to join “Twitter chats,” tweet out different ideas, join users who are similar in content areas, etc.
    Instagram- The old saying is, “One picture is worth a thousand words.” This is so true. The first step is to follow an educator that you can learn from or has similar content ideas as you. Someone can either post their ideas or personal experiences. Then, other educators can comment their own personal experiences and offer support based on the photo or video the other teacher posted.
    FaceBook – This one is by far the most user friendly for educators to use. They can make a FaceBook page specific to what they are looking for, join the FaceBook page, and anyone can make comments or posts. It is a great way to spread great ideas that have works in different classrooms.

  31. I love using blogs as my preferred method of connecting with other educators. The biggest reason this is my favorite platform is because I feel a personal connection with educators who blog. I believe through their posts I am able to really learn about the profession and the educator. Some educators are sponsored by products or other educator websites which allows me the opportunity to learn about products and websites that may be beneficial to me. Blogs allows educators to be more candid with their audience, and allows for a wide variety of topics to be discussed.

  32. Prior to becoming an educator, I thoroughly enjoyed blogging. Blogging is a large outlet for detailing new educational information, research, and teaching tips. For instance, due to being a Christ-following educator, understanding how I can spread the love of Christ without proselytizing students was key. I had only taught at Christian schools up until 2020, also having attended only Christian schools throughout my entire life. To help me transition, I started reading educator blog posts; these blog posts exhibited ways I could pray for students, show the love of Christ, and employ Christ in the classroom without breaking or bending state-regulated barriers. I am grateful for those blog posts, and on top of my love for Jesus, I have also found instructional tips that have increased my differentiated instruction within my content area (English Language Arts – Communication Skills/Remedial Reading). I appreciate the inclusivity among PLNs, and I look forward to the blogging network outlet that can be utilized.

  33. Connecting to various social media platforms is a great idea. I personally am not a fan of social media when it comes to educational purposes because there’s so much other things out there that I can use. For an example to connect with my parents and teachers and students are use class dojo which is an educational platform to be able to communicate with parents and other teachers.

  34. Connecting thru various social media platforms is a great idea. I personally and not a social media fan when it come to educational purposes because there’s so much other things out that I can use

  35. I would like to use the platform, Youtube, to create my PLN. Youtube creates a personalized approach. Educators can see real-life examples, hear the voices of other educators, and use video content creation resources to develop engaging videos for other educators. Youtube provides a variety of topics presented by numerous channels and allows for communication through commenting.

  36. I plan to connect with other educators in a variety of different ways. One way that I plan to connect with others is through social media. I follow other educators and inspiring leaders on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I have even found that I can join specific groups that are tailored to my interests and needs. The use of hashtags also makes it really easy to search for specific topics on these platforms. I also like to listen to the ‘Get Your Teach On’ podcast where new episodes on relevant topics come out each week. I enjoy listening to podcasts because I can go on a walk or work out while I am listening to each episode, and I feel like I am taking care of my physical, mental, and emotional health. Connecting with other educators is essential in a profession that can feel isolating at times.

  37. I feel that connecting through social media sites such as Reddit and Facebook are fantastic resources for educators. I am part of several facebook groups that are great for pooling resources and especially helpful in building up new teachers in AP subject areas. Reddit can also be a good source for ideas and advice. Ultimately these sites work well since the pressure is off, unlike in day-long PD from the school or other professional organizations, and it allows for creativity and thinking outside the box.

  38. I enjoy connecting with other educators using social media sites such as reddit and facebook. I’m part of several groups on facebook and it allows us to pool our resources and share what works well with our students and help newer teachers become more comfortable. I feel it is a more relaxed, water-cooler feel than more typical professional development organizations and the pressure is off. Similarly, Reddit is a fantastic resource for discussion and ideas in a similar way.

  39. My preferred platform that I use is Facebook. I like to use it because it’s easy to manage and it caters to your interests. Overall I find it easier to connect with other educators in my field through here.

  40. Twitter and Youtube are currently the two platforms I find to be most appealing. I find Twitter appealing because it is curated so that when tweets are put out from certain accounts I can get notified and often the science communicators who post there are experts in what information is truly important. I also enjoy the real time communication that can happen between scientists and educators. That real time communication is a powerful tool. I find Youtube appealing because the science and education communicators there are locked into a vital niche with online video. Reading journal articles is great, but often time consuming. Watching Youtube videos can be faster, and also potentially directly shared with students.

  41. One way I will connect with other educators is through social media. I like Instagram’s platform because I can search hashtags for topics I am interested in, follow educators to get new ideas for lessons, and learn from the photos and videos educators’ post. I began using Instagram during my first year of teaching and it has helped me be more creative with my lessons. I follow several educators on my teaching Instagram, and this is a great start to build my PLN.

  42. Youtube has been and in my opinion, has always been the most universal social application on the market. It is free, intuitive, and has something for everyone. It is an excellent market for the creative teacher, and students enjoy interacting with it. Teachers can also share and create content with and for each other very easily.

  43. In order to connect with other educators I plan on using social media networks. Social media is used with so many in today’s society, and there are so many resources shared. Platforms I’d prefer to make these connections include: Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I have used Pinterest throughout my teaching career to find resources and materials to use with students in lessons. I have also used it for classroom decoration ideas, teacher organization tips, as well as student organization tools. Facebook and Instagram are great, because I have followed fellow educators to get ideas. It is also a great feeling knowing we are not alone, when faced with difficulties in teaching, and a great way for us as educators to come together.

  44. I can think of other barriers that may come up when building a PLN. I use the internet every day and it seems like I am always looking at a screen. I know that building a PLN is very helpful, but I do not want to spend any more time on my computer than I absolutely need to. There is also the problem of how I want to use the resources. School resources are used separately from my personal life resources. I do not want to use instagram to network because it is a virtual place where I go to relax and to be entertained. Doing my best to keep work separate from my personal life is very important to me.

  45. I plan to connect with others through social media because that is what I predominantly use for everything. I also think social media is very populated with large and diverse groups of people; there will always be information that people are willing to give you and information that is completely unknown to you that you will want to use. I think I would mostly use platforms like Pinterest and Instagram because those are the social media apps that I am most comfortable with.

  46. The platform that I would like to use to connect to other educators are blogs. Blogs are a way to connect because you can connect with other educators by reading their thoughts, as well as allowing them to read my thoughts and provide feedback. Blogs are also a way for me to write down my ideas, allow other educators to write down their ideas and we can share/provide feedback to each other by commenting on each blog post.
    This platform is mostly appealing to me because I can use this platform to personally connect to someone else through reading and writing. This platform is significant to a PLN.

  47. I plan to collaborate with my coworkers through various means. I like the idea of using Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to find materials to use with students. I am already familiar with these sites, so I will just need to figure out what to search that relates to the material I want to use with my students. My future profession is occupational therapy, and I have already seen some great ideas for child based therapy on YouTube and Pinterest. I think it is great that other educators/professionals share their ideas and welcome you to use or adapt them to what you need to use them for. I would probably use email to connect with my coworkers just so all of the messages would be in one secure place where I can easily access them.

  48. Nowadays, colleagues connect with outside sources via zoom. This allows educators to connect with people all around the world to learn about different teaching skills as well as technology. I resonate with the fact that everyone needs to find a tool that works best for them. This goes along the same thing as not everyone can study the same way or complete tasks the same way. People have different strategies that lead them to success and that is ok! Although, one barrier I do face is digital literacy. Some of my college professors use certain platforms that I don’t necessarily enjoy completing my curriculum on, but I am given no other option.

  49. I really like the idea of using social networking systems to communicate with other educators. I like this idea because everyone has social media. You could form group on these sites or even message someone individually. This also allows for communication to people all across the country. You aren’t limited to only talk to people who live close to you.

  50. In terms of my preferences for building PLN relationships, I think it depends on the kind of information and connections being sought. When I taught early ed, Pinterest was invaluable for writing lesson plans and especially for finding STEM ideas. Science is not my strong suit or something I have ever been especially interested in, but on Pinterest I found hundreds of preschooler-friendly experiments that my students and I loved.

    Now that I am focusing on secondary ed (English), I don’t see Pinterest being my go-to resource for lesson plans, though I haven’t investigated what resources are on there for secondary ed.

    One resource I’m reluctant to use is Twitter—not because it isn’t a great medium for building a PLN, but because I’ve found I personally struggle with keeping on task on the app. I used Twitter a lot about 5-6 years ago, when I was trying to build relationships in the publishing world and connect with other writers, authors, and literary agents. Of all the social media apps I use, Twitter is the one I’ve found I’m most likely to get caught in “doom-scroll mode.” Since this course emphasizes Twitter as a resource, I’m reluctant to write it off entirely. But in my personal experience, the information and connections I found on Twitter (while often invaluable) came at the cost of increased anxiety and wasted time. I see this as a “me issue” vs. a “Twitter issue,” but still something I take into account.

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