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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

331 Comments

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  1. I want to pay it forward. I know so many educators who can benefit from using these steps. I think that it is amazing to see how many students will be changed and even the teachers.

    • cassidylipelt
  2. The challenge I want to participate in for this step is to pay it forward. I know so many educators who would benefit from this course. I think the most important thing about sharing this information with others is knowing how many students will benefit from the connected educators and shared information.

  3. This course was very informative to me and I am glad I took it. This is my plan for building my PLN:
    1. Get more comfortable with Twitter and commit to checking my feed daily.
    2. There are ELL blogs that I am interested in. I would like to get to know the bloggers and learn from their work, respond in comments, collaborate.
    3. Set up Pinterest account

    As far as making time, I would like to dedicate 15 minutes every Monday and Wednesday morning, when I drink my morning coffee. I am trying to avoid getting overwhelmed, as that is how I often feel with social media. I hope I can start small and expand.

  4. After completing this course, I am motivated to expand my PLN through a few goals. They are as followed:

    1) Follow more educator accounts and hashtags on Twitter
    2) Check out an additional curation tool. I will look into Evernote.
    3) Find more teacher podcasts! I love listening to podcasts, so I should check out more of this resource.
    4) See if I can find a teacher book club. I love to read, and I would love to read books about education and helping students and then being able to discuss what I read with fellow teachers.

  5. To make time to build my PLN I think I will start ahead of time before I even begin teaching, while I have free time. When I get into my career I will set aside time every week to keep up with it and continue building my PLN.

  6. I plan to make time by substituting the time I use on social media to build my PLN. When I am on social media, I plan to be adding to my Pinterest or on Twitter following blog posts or hashtags that are beneficial to my career as well as finding new tips and tricks and inputting on others blogs. If I am bored and want to scroll, I can scroll on something that can help build and enhance my knowledge, interact, and learn.

  7. My goal moving forward is to add the Twitter app to my phone so as to have regular access to it, since a good chunk of my time is spent on my phone in between activities. I want to find other teachers online and look at how they have addressed literacy in their classrooms, as well as connect with ESL teachers to learn about their experiences. Also, taking time out of my day for a good educational chat will be as good as meditation, which is something I need to make a part of my regular routine.

  8. I think the one way to make time for keeping up with the PLN is to set the same amount of time (doesn’t have to be much), every day, to designate towards keeping up with it. Even if you aren’t posting, to learn and educate and research ideas are just as important as the actual posting portion. It’s all about time management, just like most things in the educational world!

  9. First and foremost, I would like to build the community aspect of my PLN. I think by finding and developing relationships with fellow educators will assist me in what directions I should go in and what information I should seek to include in my PLN. It would provide a strong foundation and broaden my perspective and knowledge beyond what it would be if I were to go about it with only myself. From there, I would start to branch out with any advice or help I would receive from the network I will have created, and I would scope out any new ideas or information to share among my peers to gain multiple perspectives.

  10. For prompt 1: I want to develop a more consistent routine with finding webinars and teacher panels to attend. I have been able to connect to several through Instagram and Facebook, but I’d like to form a goal of how many webinars to participate in. I think I’d like to pursue 3 a month. I would also like to develop a better routine with my blog. I am going to set some focused intentions on what my goals are for the blog. From there, I think it’ll be easier to establish some time-based goals for the number of posts and content.

  11. My goals for creating a PLN are to reman in touch with my fellows students from school. I feel like I have made so many great connection with educators in the making and they would be an amazing foundation for a PLN. These people are from all over my state and the country and being able to share our ideas with one another would be so beneficial to me, them, and our students. I think I will also join educator groups on FaceBook groups. FaceBook group are actually very helpful and interactive. I am in several just for my interests and hobbies but I should start joining more based on my career and field.

    • Jennifer Carranza
  12. My goal is to connect to more teachers using PLNs to get creative ideas for my own classroom. I like to sense of community PLNs create and the encouragement and motivation the groups bring. I see myself using networks like twitter, pinterest, and Linkedin to connect with other teachers and to create my own PLN.

    • Savannah Teutsch
  13. For setting time, I know I can give myself a good amount of time throughout the week to nurture my PLN. The most important part is pushing myself to do so. I want to spend at least fifteen minutes a day and push myself to create my PLN, from Twitter to newsletters. Most of my online browsing routine is Instagram, and I’m sure I can even find PLN inspiration there too. I’m excited to begin developing my PLN!

  14. I really enjoyed the new ways I realized I can navigate the social media apps I already have. I have been on Twitter for years and use it mostly as a fun app where I occasionally catch some news but mostly just read it for the funny viral tweets. I really liked the idea of following educational hashtags to keep me thinking about the way I want to teach and be in my classroom. I am glad that I got to take this PLN course!

  15. In the mornings, while I get ready for the day, I usually always watch a Youtube video for entertainment purposes. I mainly do this because I like to have background noise as I start waking up for the day. However, I think this would be a great time to make time for my PLN. This would be the perfect time to listen to one of the podcasts I was recommended or saw mentioned as I was scrolling through Twitter! I am definitely going to start incorporating my PLN as my morning routine.

  16. As for PNL as a whole I feel that I need to use a more variety of the social media sites that are out there instead of just the few that I am using. But I feel that I used PNL sites well although I do not think to the full potential, therefore I plan on using different techniques to search and find informative information.

  17. In order to start making time to start working on my PLN, I would like to start searching for more education-related blogs and connecting with other teachers on social media.

    • Kathryn Hopping
  18. One goal I have for building my PLN is to build up a wide range of resources, people, blogs, podcasts, etc. that I enjoy and think I can learn a lot from. I want to create a professional Twitter account, rather than the one I’ve been using for personal interactions, so that I can find other professional accounts to follow and interact with on the platform. I also want to start building up the Feedly account by adding some more blogs and resources to different feeds on my account. I like what I have found and done with the site so far, and can’t wait to see what else I can find and do with it in the future. I also want to find some good education based Pinterest accounts and explore everything they have to offer. I’d like to create my own board on Pinterest of different things that I find interesting and beneficial to use in my future career and classroom. I think I am mainly interested in finding people and accounts that I really resonate with and want to learn more from first and foremost.

  19. MAKING TIME: This course on PLNs has reminded me of how much time I should be investing into growing my online presence and my PLN. I have been thinking a lot recently about how I can best organize my daily schedule to ensure the best output, which is a hard balance to find when working 45+ hours a week and attending school full-time. This is exactly why I need to be more structured and regimented in my scheduling to ensure that I do build my networks. I have begun to wake up earlier so I have more time to work on creative projects, and have limited my non-academic/career screen time to weekends only. I think I could also begin to use my social media time more constructively by incorporating more educational resources in the accounts I follow.

    • Summer Shomette
  20. I will be responding to the first prompt.

    My goal for myself after completing this course is to create a teacher account on Twitter and begin to build my own PLN. Though I am very familiar with Twitter and have had an account for a long time, there is a lot of random stuff on my current account that would not necessarily be appropriate or needed for a PLN. My goal is to create a Twitter account solely based on my path in education and to create a PLN for myself where I can learn, interact with other educators, and create a community.

  21. My goal is to join more educator groups on all social media platforms. After going through all these steps I see how important it is to have those connections with other educators and to share resources with one another.

  22. My goal is to actually utilize the twitter that I created for my educator life. Like I’ve mentioned before, I am not a huge fan of twitter and I never use it but I do think it’s a great way for educators to stay connected and up to date. Therefore, my goal is to actually utilize my twitter and actually make more connections with educators around the world. I currently teach creative writing to students who do not necessarily like writing and so I feel like I’m pulling teeth. I would like to come in contact with a creative writing teacher and ask how to keep motivation up.

  23. The way in which I want to grow is in becoming more engaged on platforms like twitter. I want to get better at following different resources and creating a space that I can save those resources. I want to be able to have resources to share with future teammates in my schools. I also want to continue to find ways to educate myself on best practices.

  24. My goal is to take little more time daily to look around different blogs, Pinterest boards, and instagram/tik tok accounts of different elementary school teachers. I love learning new things from seeing the ideas of others and getting to add my touch on to it. Eventually I would love to be able to do my own blog/website where I can place everything I have learned and my own ideas!

  25. Although I am not sure if I will be creating a Twitter page that is solely dedicated to curating my ideas, I will definitely continue to use Pinterest, Instagram, and blog sites to get inspiration and re-post these to share the ideas with others.

  26. After seeing how important it is and how useful a PLN can be for an educator; I’m excited to start building my own. I’m on my phone 80% of the time so I could definitely take time off youtube or Instagram to view things that are useful to my teaching career. I will probably start following more educators and educational blogs to browse at in my spare time. My biggest barrier was knowing where to start and I think this 7 step process has given me a great start.

    • Alexis Mitchell
  27. The first thing I want to do is become more familiar with twitter. After that i can start connecting with more and more people building my PLN. Then after a while I can start sharing my own ideas and getting feedback. I think I will definitely have some anxiety about it all at first but the more I use twitter the more comfortable will become. Luckily with spring break I will definitely have time this week to explore!

  28. My short-term goal is to develop a strong local PLN with fellow preservice teachers as well as current service teachers to gain insight into their experience developing their PLN. My long-term goal is to develop a global PLN that includes teachers both in and out of my content area through Twitter. The reason is that while I believe specifically curated resources are incredibly valuable, it is also important to reach out to teachers of various backgrounds and grade levels to gain insight into the longitudinal development of students.

    • Roberto Chavez
  29. My goals for my PLN are to first figure out how to consolidate the information into one media. For example, I think having a google document or slides that have links to various blog posts, tweets or twitter chats, videos, podcasts, articles, books, etc. It would be great to be able to have my own blog and join the blogging community. I would love to comment frequently on Twitter chats along with blog posts in order to feel like I am part of this online community. I will do a lot of lurking but I also want to get my voice and opinions out there once I know enough to add. I want to have a large collection of tools to use. I know a few teachers who have given me some tools such as recommending using Seesaw and keeping all tools in a google slide.

  30. My goal is to set up a Twitter account that will solely be used as my PLN and looking for the suggested educators/education pages list here to follow and start lurking to get a better hang of what Twitter has to offer and explore new ideas learned from others.

  31. To begin my PLN, I want to work on looking into the suggested sites and start creating accounts. Once, I get my accounts started I want to focus strictly the blogs at first so that I can just absorb information and get the hang of using the different types of technology. I am extremely excited about beginning it and organizing all of the materials I come across and being able to implement in the classroom.