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

Now you know what a PLN is, and how people build one, we’re going to discuss ways of making time for your PLN.

In this step you will explore:

  1. How to find time to develop your PLN and embed simple practices into your routine
  2. Tips for building your PLN

Overview

Throughout this series, we’ve looked at different ways that educators enjoy building a PLN and connecting with their networks.

While we mainly focused on Twitter, blogs, and curation tools, remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are many other ways that educators connect with others and we encourage you to explore anything that looks interesting to you.

Popular ways educators are learning with their PLN Edublogs Teacher Challenge

Whatever tools you use, you want it to be sustainable. The real benefits of having a PLN emerge once you get to know people and as we’ve said throughout this series, the more you put in, the more you’ll get back.

Tips For Building Your PLN

Here are some tips for building your PLN and making the time to be a ‘connected educator’ without feeling overwhelmed.

Do what works best for you

How do you like to learn and connect best? Do you prefer reading and text based materials? Are you a keen writer? Maybe you like audio and enjoy learning via podcasts. Videos are also a popular way for people to learn and share information.

Follow your natural learning style and think about ways you can become a connected educator by doing what you’re comfortable with. Not every tool or service is for everyone!

Start small

Put your blinkers on. You really don’t need to use all the tools that are out there. Trying to keep up with many people and many tools is a recipe for feeling overwhelmed.

Some educators have built up a great network just by reading a handful of blogs and following a small number of people on Twitter. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.

Set a goal and commit

Set yourself one goal of something you’re going to commit to trying.

Maybe your goal will be to join Twitter and find 10 people to follow. Then challenge yourself to check in every day for a month and see what your followers are tweeting about. If this works for you, you can build on it. If not, you can always try something new!

Set a routine

You probably already have a number of online routines in place. Maybe you’re in the routine of checking your emails in the morning, or perhaps browsing Facebook when you sit down after dinner.

Create a routine for your PLN too.

This doesn’t have to involve a big chunk of time. A few minutes here and there to read a blog post, browse through Feedly or Flipboard, or scroll through Twitter can be all you need to get on your way.

Consider becoming more productive

We all know how easy it is for time to whittle away while browsing online. Whether it’s YouTube videos or Instagram photos, maybe some of your online browsing experiences can be redirected to building your PLN.

Of course, we all need downtime but this is something for you to ponder!

Don’t be shy

Most people in the educational community are remarkably friendly. Don’t be shy about following people you don’t know, leaving a stranger a comment, or responding to someone’s tweet.

You’ll probably be glad you did and you never know where one small interaction can take you!

Don’t give up

It’s so common to try something new and feel a great sense of discomfort. You might feel confused and overwhelmed but don’t give up! Once you get over the initial learning curve, it will all pay off. We promise!

Maybe you’ll end up like Tisha Poncio who gave this inspiring shout out to her PLN on Twitter.

 

 “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Edublogs PLN Challenge

Your Task

PLNs are all about sharing, collaborating, and learning from each other. So here’s your chance to ask a question, comment, and get involved!

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about PLNs by undertaking one or more of these challenges:

  1. What are your goals? Leave a comment on this post to tell us what aspects of your PLN you want to focus on first. Maybe you want to join Twitter and find some fellow teacher-librarians or history teachers. Or maybe you want to add all your favorite blogs to a Feedly account. Tell us about it!
  2. Making time. Leave a comment on this post to share your ideas on how you will make time to build your PLN. Remember to consider if there is anything you can remove from your online browsing routine to free up time for building your PLN.
  3. Share your top tip. Leave a comment to share your tips that have helped get you started building a PLN without feeling overwhelmed.
  4. Pay it forward. Remember that a barrier to developing a PLN is simply not knowing what’s out there. Why not ‘pay it forward’ and tell a friend or colleague about this series? Encourage them to take part and learn about building their own PLN!
  5. Write a post about PLNs. If you have a blog, now could be the perfect time to write about PLNs. Put all the pieces together from what you’ve learned in this series and share your own insights or goals. You never know, you might just help someone else get started! Please include @edublogs if you tweet your post so we can share it with our network. Leave a comment with a link to your post so we can read it!

Also feel free to leave a comment to ask any questions you still have about building a PLN. We may be able to help!

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.


PLN Course Certificate

Have you completed each of the 7 steps in this course AND left a comment on each post? Maybe you’d like a certificate to show that you’ve completed the PLN Teacher Challenge course!

Fill out the form below to receive your certificate via email. Alternatively, click here to open the form in a new tab.

If you don’t receive your certificate, please look in your junk/spam folder.

Claim Your Badge!

If you’ve completed the PLN challenge, feel free to proudly display this badge on the sidebar of your blog. Alternatively, you might like to add it to your About page to demonstrate your professional learning.

Simply right click on the image and save it to your computer. Then add it to your sidebar by following these instructions.

We’re so happy to have you as part of our Teacher Challenge community!

PLN Teacher Challenge badge Edublogs

143 Comments

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  1. Pay it forward:

    I’ve passed on a copy of the workbook to a colleague and shared some of the curation tools I’ve discovered. I found the tools that offered a dashboard were much easier to navigate and organize, it also gave me the feeling of an organized online workspace (a bit like a desk free of paperwork and clutter).

    Goals:

    * Meet other teachers working in the Creative Writing/Writer’s Workshop space
    * Establish an early morning ‘research’ routine (when the kids are still sleeping and I have the most energy)
    * Setup a fortnightly/monthly online get-together with other online teachers (feedback/support/brainstorming).

    • Hey Kayley,
      Nice work passing on the workbook and tools. I know what you mean about being organized. I don’t like clutter!
      Great goals. Good luck!

      • Kathleen Morris
  2. Without your PLN you cannot develop as an educator and I am grateful to all the great minds I have met virtually also online.
    It is important to think, plan and reflect and to realize that it takes time to develop it.
    Hopefully we have a global community of educators in different virtual worlds and I am pleased to know that most of them are sharing.
    Here is my final post, without TWITTER I would have never developed my PLN.

    http://educationalandissue.blogspot.com/2018/09/pln-making-time-to-build-your-pln.html

    • Tiziana Angiolini
    • Nice work, Tiziana! I just left a comment and will share it on Twitter over the coming days too!

      • Kathleen Morris
  3. I’ve just joined Twitter.. it seems quite overwhelming right now. I’m sure that in a few months I’ll feel like a pro! #edtech202 I am excited to find other educators with various degrees of experience to collaborate with and learn from as well.

    • Anita Murnighan
  4. I just used the futureme.org advice and emailed my future self with my plan so that in one year I can evaluate what has worked, what hasn’t and what changes I’d like to make. The Goals I set for the next year concerning my PLN is to become active on Twitter by following along for 15 mins daily and to post at least 1 time a week. I would also like to maintain my activities on Tumblr (which currently has a “study” focus that I will change to a more professional teaching focus as I draw nearer to graduation). And, last but not least, I am planning on adjusting my current blog (shiveracademy.com). I have let it gather dust the last few years as I have slowed down on homeschooling. I would like to continue sharing my curriculum ideas, but I need to broaden the scope a bit so that my network grows.

    • Patty Thompson
    • Your goals sound great, Patty. How funny will it be seeing that future email. Maybe I should try it myself!

      • Kathleen Morris
  5. The one thing that I have done with adding to my PLN is to take it ONE step at a time. Kind of like baby steps. Except. I only focus on mastering one social media at a time. This way, I’m not trying to get the hang of ALL of it ALL, at once.

    • Patty Thompson
    • Good idea! You don’t have to be on all social media either. Even a lot of the ‘pros’ just focus on a couple. Personally, I mainly use Twitter and Facebook. I dabble with Instagram and Pinterest and would like to use them more but that would be too time consuming!

      • Kathleen Morris
  6. I would love to start a LHS Dance Education PLN and post photos and videos from our day in the dance ed classroom but my district has a policy that states we are not allowed to post students on social media unless their parents have signed a parental consent permission form…how do I go about getting through this block in the road in order to create a PLN students, parents, the community, and my fellow teachers and dance educators can join and appreciate???

    • Hi Jodie,
      Some people post photos of students that either don’t show their faces, or they use an app/online tool to blur students faces or put an emoji over them. So perhaps you could ask your district if it’s okay to post photos without faces and names??
      Otherwise, you could consider using a private blog if that’s something your district would approve. You’d just have to give the people you want to access the blog the password. 🙂

      • Kathleen Morris
  7. I think that using some of these tools will help me significantly develop my PLN and if help myself by developing a time frame to put more into it I think I will get the most out of it.

    • Mattie Bennett
    • Sometimes giving yourself a time frame is a really useful strategy! Good luck.

      • Kathleen Morris
  8. I think that this workshop is very innovative and I am hoping that it will help make preparing much quicker and effective.

    • Indira Pierre-Louis
  9. This is quite overwhelming but I look forward to spending at least 20 minutes a day building my PLN.

  10. I plan to set aside 30 minutes a day each evening to mine my PLN. I hope to limit what comes in to a manageable level so I don’t feel overwhelmed.

    • Darlene Hubber
  11. I am starting slowly to create my PLN, and blogs and twitter are a good start for me, as I become more familiar I wont feel like I am just lurking:)
    I do feel excite about having a twitter page that my students and their families can follow,I will add moments throughout our day and photos I think this will be a lot of fun, as well as build a community for our kids, families, and school.

    • Mary Ellen Mulderrig