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

414 thoughts on “Step 7: Making Time To Build Your PLN

  1. My goals are to find blogs that associate with teaching skills and tips on becoming a better teacher. I would want to follow up on those tips before working on anything else.

  2. My goal is to focus more on starting small and making one change. That change could be following more educated people on social media or taking time out of my day to search for how I can improve my teaching instead of sitting on my phone mindlessly.

  3. Making time is the most important piece to creating a PLN for me. I’m not a person who spends a lot of time online browsing. I really only browse when I have a moment of down time and I don’t have a book to read. I’m still a bit old school when it comes to creating PLNs. I like to meet people and share ideas through traditional professional development avenues. I do, however, feel like some things will benefit me. As mentioned, I like the Pocket app and the Free Tech for Teachers site. I am also a blogger, so creating another one for educational purposes is a great idea.

  4. Now is a good time to start making accounts on different social medias if you haven’t yet and become familiar with how to use them. I think it is important in today’s day-in-age to use social media for professional interests and hobbies, which I have been doing for the past couple years now.

  5. I personally think I have time now to make time to create a PLN right before I student teach next semester. I find myself spending a lot of time on technology like my phone and computer which at the same time I could use the applications we talked about earlier to start my PLN. As long as it is on the pace I feel that it would work out very well for me.

  6. Goals: I was hesitant to join Twitter and other social media sites because of time consumption and how it can be unhealthy for some people. However, after completing this course, I am much more inclined to start a PLN and look for educators who provide valuable resources. My plan would be to start small, perhaps following a handful of insightful teachers. As my PLN grows, I may try to curate content or share my own thoughts with the world.

  7. My goal is to put the knowledge that I learned here to good use, and not forget it after this assignment is completed. I will do this by using the resources and logins that I made during this module, and regularly check those websites.

  8. My goals is to be a great future teacher and try to use as many resources as I can for my students. I wanna be able to help others. I will definitely be using twitter more in the future after reading. I could use all the tips that I can get. I will definitely spend more time on twitter now and see what else it has to offer.

  9. 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.

    I know it can be hard to make time for a new skill but I think integrating time during planning, or before or after school would be a good way to be in a focused environment in order to work on your PLN.

  10. My goal for my PLN is to concretely set it up so it’s something that I can access anytime, anywhere no matter what device or account I’m on. I also plan to research a lot more education blogs and sites in order to gain more connections and create more opportunities for growth and learning. I plan to continue to use a lot of social media to connect and learn from other educators world-wide as well as learn about amazing educators near me. I’m excited to continue to build this through my career and see all of the amazing opportunities and information it provides me.

  11. I would like to look on Pinterest more for ideas on little things like conversation starters for morning meetings so the beginning of our day is more exciting and welcoming. I also would like to get into Twitter. I have never had a Twitter but I think it would be useful for me as an educator. My goal is to stay up to date and find new ways to improve my teaching for the students and social media platforms are a great way to achieve that.

  12. My one tip to starting your PLM is talking to fellow teachers. Ask them for recommendations for who they love to follow. Once you find one person you love, look at who they follow and follow those people too. Look up hashtags about things that are important to you like art in the classroom or music, etc. The more you use your platform for things like this, the more your platform will recognize what you are interested in and it will do all the work for you by showing you things you would love.

  13. I am going to add my professional account to my twitter app, that way when I wake up and check twitter or when I am on twitter in the evening I can easily switch to my professional account and interact with my PLN.

  14. I am going to ask and discuss with my practicum placement teacher what type of PLN she may have. I would like to pick her mind about tips and tricks on how to keep myself from getting overwhelmed, worry, or even take on too much. I will also log on to my newly created Twitter account and reach out to new groups and chats to explore educational opportunities. 

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