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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

179 Comments

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  1. I plan on making time for building my PLN by making it part of my morning routine. Instead of shopping on amazon or just wandering around the internet in the morning, I plan on checking in on blogs I enjoy to see what’s new. I can make this even more efficient by utilizing some of the tools I learned about like Feedly or Pocket to curate and organize the content I want to be reading. By building this in as a ten-minute routine every morning, I can slowly start to build up my PLN.

  2. In order to start building my PLN, I am going to set the goal to begin following people on Twitter and familiarizing myself with the platform. I hope to begin by allowing myself 10 minutes a day to try to build relationships with others on Twitter. I see myself in several years, after having establish a PLN, jumping into content curation through the creation of a blog. I have found reading through The Cult of Pedagogy blog extremely helpful in beginning my career as a teacher and would love to create a blog resource that does the same for other beginning teachers.

    • Matthew Kitchen
  3. This year, my first period will be overseeing some independent studies if any, so this will be my time to work on my PLN and search for resources for my classes.

    • Tammi Lynne Cooke
  4. I plan to make time to develop my PLN by just giving a few minutes each day. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, I can explore any of the tools mentioned throughout this series to connect with others. This will help me achieve my goal of establishing relationships and giving/receiving advice from other educators!

    • Hi Addie,

      It’s definitely easy to scroll mindlessly. It sounds like a good plan to become more focussed in your approach.

      All the best!

      Kathleen Morris
      Edublogs Community Manager
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  5. My goal is to continue to build my PLN, I currently use Pinterest to get ideas for teaching, but haven’t really contributed much. I plan to contribute more and share my ideas with others. I want to focus first on starting small and get some of my ideas out there and see where this takes me. I think this is a great way to start growing my PLN.

    • Myra Martinez
    • Hi Myra,

      Well done on completing the steps. Pinterest sure is a great way to get teaching ideas. I encourage you to use platforms that allow you to make personal connections as well.
      Good luck!

      Kathleen Morris
      Edublogs Community Manager
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  6. I plan to organize all of the accounts and subscriptions I have to blogs. I also want to reorganize my Pinterest pins. I plan to set up a routine to build my PLN by setting aside time in the morning while I drink my coffee to build upon it. I definitely picky about the things that work best for me so I will take my time in finding what I like best between podcasts or reading blogs or watching videos. I also need to stop being shy and just make comments! It’s neat to be able to have conversations with people from around the world so why not take advantage of it!

    • Well done on completing the course, Katie. It sounds like you have a great plan and I definitely encourage you to not be shy!

      Kathleen Morris
      Edublogs Community Manager
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  7. It is important to start small and with one goal in mind so that you dont get overwhelmed.

    • Samantha Kneer
    • Thanks for sharing your reflections throughout the course, Samantha. I hope you gained some new ideas!

      Kathleen Morris
      Edublogs Community Manager
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  8. I want to focus on what will work best for me which is finding what works best for me. For example, I love to write so one way that I can increase my PLN would be blogging and commenting on other people blogs. Also, not focusing on how shy I am in real life because most educators are friendly and their feedback will help me grow.

    • DeKimia Hosken
    • Hi DeKimia,

      It’s very true. I have found that the majority of educators online are very friendly and approachable! I’m very happy to hear you love to write. Blogging sounds like the perfect avenue for you. Good luck.

      Kathleen Morris
      Edublogs Community Manager
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  9. I have used Pinterest for a long time as a way of finding activities or new information and saving it but have not posted my own ideas or commented on other’s posts. I think I would like to focus on the sharing aspect first for my PLN. If I make time for sharing my own ideas and interacting with others, it will help me build connections, relationships, and further interact with the global educational community!

    • Akira Vaughan
    • Hi Akira,

      It can be difficult to take the step from lurking to connecting. You’re right that sharing will really help in so many ways.

      Good luck!

      Kathleen Morris
      Edublogs Community Manager
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  10. To make time to develop my PLN, I want to devote the time I already spend on social media to look more into connecting with educators. Along with this, I want to begin to take my personal profiles up a notch and include my own thoughts and ideas on education.

    • Savannah Hodges
    • Hi Savannah,

      Well done working through the steps of this course. I like the idea of devoting the time you’re already spending on social media to some more purposeful connections and investigations. Good luck!

      Kathleen Morris
      Edublogs Community Manager
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  11. My main goal in creating a PLN is to find new, exciting, and innovative things to introduce into my teaching. I want to learn from others so I can spread that knowledge to my students. Building a network of dedicated educators is the easiest and most efficient way to constantly be surrounded by new ideas, lessons, and beliefs! I look forward to expanding my PLN in the near future.

  12. One of my favorite tips about building a PLN is to do what works best for you. We all have unique learning styles and process content in different ways. Additionally, what works for someone else may not work in the same way for everyone. I feel like that is important to keep in mind when building a PLN because it can be a daunting task at times.

    • Anna,

      You’re right –it’s so important to do what works for you. Some teachers love Twitter (like me), others are more into Facebook groups, or Instagram etc. It can be a great idea to dabble with different ideas before finding what will suit you best!

      Kathleen Morris
      Edublogs Community Manager
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  13. The first thing I want to do is develop some competence in using visuals in tweets so that I can share things and RT/QT/reply better. I know how to make a number of kinds of visuals with outside tools, but I don’t really understand how to get any of them into my tweets. I would also like to be able to make those embedded original tweets that have the little picture to the left (many QTs have them), but I can’t find the explanation for that either. (Are those considered to be ‘cards’ or what?) Anyway, once I can do those things, I want to more actively enlarge my PLN via Twitter.

    • Hi Kat,

      Good questions. My favourite way of making visuals for tweets is through Canva. I wrote about Canva on The Edublogger recently.
      It’s super easy to use if you haven’t tried it yet. You can just modify one of their templates. When you complete your design there is the option to publish it to Twitter but I never do this. I prefer to save the graphic to my computer as a JPEG or PNG and then upload it to my tweet manually (by clicking on the photo icon in Twitter).

      For example, I made a quick visual in Canva the other day to make my ‘last call for the Student Blogging Challenge’ tweet stand out.

      And you’re right, you can also use Twitter cards to make your tweet stand out without the effort of creating your own visual.

      Here are two different options you could use to enable Twitter Cards:

      Sharing module of Jetpack plugin
      WP SMO plugin

      Hope that helps!
      Kathleen

      • Kathleen Morris
  14. I plan to use twitter to follow more teachers and create a larger PLN.

    • Margaret LaFrancois
  15. By going through this course, I found out that I always sought PLNs and joined them regularly. I just wasn’t aware of the concept. My goal is to reach as many teachers in my area and share knowledge. I am positive that they would be able to give as much as I can.
    Step 6 for me was the richest one. It took more than a month to digest all in and I will always refer back to it regularly. Thank you for making such wonderful course available to all educators.

  16. This course,’Teacher Challenge 2018’ uses the expansive reading approach, where the text becomes a springboard to improve language skills and to explore Content Curation throughout social media Twitter, cultural connections and other topics suggested by the author.

  17. Great course! Saving as a resource for future reference. One thing I’ve realized through this is I put building a PLN on the back burner. With everything else that teachers have on their plates, doing something for yourself is “something that can wait”. However, me pushing this off for “later” means I’m missing out on all of the amazing sharing that’s going on! I need to prioritize my PLN by finding a time to dedicate to focusing on building, sharing and communicating through my network so that I may grow as an educator.

    • Congratulations on completing the course! You’re right. It’s so easy for teachers to put building a network (or other things) on the backburner. A little effort now will probably save you time in the future and help bring longevity to your career. Good on you for making it a priority!

      Kathleen Morris
      Edublogs Community Manager
      @kathleen_morris

      • Kathleen Morris
  18. My PLN has the following aims and objectives:

    #TeachWithoutTears is a global conference of teachers, educational managers and consultants.

    #TeachWithoutTears aims at connecting teachers and other educational stakeholders for effective, collaboration, cooperation and continuous improvement.

    #TeachWithoutTears elicits, promotes and supports quality teaching and learning activities through social media discussion, organised conferences, workshops and seminars.

    #TeachWithoutTears provides teaching resources, materials links and information for career advancement and Professional Development (PD).

    #TeachWithoutTears is a knowledge sharing and learning hub customized for teachers, by teachers!

    We meet on WhatsApp every weekend to discuss, collaborate, engage and share relevant knowledge.

    • Stephen Obasun
  19. As a student, I intend to use Sundays to spend more time in expanding my personal learning network.

    Thanks to @edublogs for this insightful information. It’s been enlightening.

    • theenglishstudentdiary
    • So glad you enjoyed the course and I hope you have many happy Sundays ahead!

      • Kathleen Morris
  20. I would try to do a little per time and see what I can learn. It’s true that not every tool is meant for you. I will try to stick with a few ones.
    By and large, consistency and persistence are the keywords!

  21. My first goal for building is continuing with Twitter. Since starting the course I have added followers, responded to posts, and I did set up Feedly. Now I want to find people to follow in my kindergarten field. As I have seen the many blogs out there I want to find some that will appeal and help with my field. I did participate in a Twitter chat, but want to do it more.
    As for making time that is a bit harder. Right now I am committing to 15 minutes a day, but hopefully that will increase.
    Thank you all so much for this course because it has definitely helped me.

    • Michalle Keiser
  22. When I first started Twitter I was overwhelmed and did not really know where to start. I began sharing my thoughts about professional books that I was reading. I learned how to do a book snap so I began to share that way. I also joined an online book study with George Couros and began my blog.
    Then after some time I got brave enough to share my ideas and thoughts on a twitter chat.
    So for those who are unsure and hesitant to step out of your comfort, just take a step. Respond to a tweet, retweet, join a chat or write a tweet. Once you try it , it becomes much easier to step our further.

    Bridget

  23. How I plan to make time for developing my PLN is to spend every other night connecting to other educators here in America and throughout the world through Twitter,Face book and other sites that I have learned about here. Thank you for the wealth of information you provided which I definitely plan to share with fellow colleagues,

    • Abdu kareem Muhammad
    • great plan- and you are welcome!!

  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. This is quite overwhelming but I look forward to spending at least 20 minutes a day building my PLN.

  33. 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
  34. 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