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

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

  1. My goal in building my PLN is to be a well experienced educator. I still prefer face-to-face time with educators working in the same location as me, but I believe as an educator I still have a lot of information that I need to know about like the pedagogy skills in the classroom and combining that with technology. I want to use the opportunity of building a PLN to enhance and increase my learning in those areas and then use my professional development time to meet and become familiar with other educators.

  2. I will be working to make time to work on my PLN this school year. I can easily carve out 15-20 minutes each day during breaks in the day, in the morning, or at night to work on it. I will make it part of my daily routine to check into Twitter and find blogs that are helpful for my teaching. The challenge will be to stay on task. I have other social platforms that can be easily distracting. When I am working on my PLN I will avoid using Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to look at pictures, videos, or stories that are not related to education. I will also not check the news or any other sites at this time to ensure that I am giving my time to improve my teaching and learning.

  3. I currently check Facebook and Twitter in the morning and in the evening. I will work to add Flipgrid to that routine. The thing I will need to work on is making time to determine what to do with the information that is curated. Although I currently have a fairly complete PLN there is always room to find more. I believe that reviving my TweetDeck will help to discover new and exciting people and groups to follow.

  4. My first step is to spend time learning Twitter. I set up my account as part of this course and I really have not devoted time to learning the ins and outs of the app. While I am getting a feel for Twitter I will begin following others and commenting. Hopefully I will be able to make thoughtful contributions to the posts of others and involve myself in chats. From here I would like to expand to blogging. I know how to setup a blog but I have not gone further than that. My goal is to spend a little time everyday expanding on each of the steps involved in this course

  5. I think that a great way to make time to build my PLN would be to set small goals rather than expecting my self to create an entire network in one sitting. Curating a useful and pinpointed PLN is something that would take a lot of time and focus, and can not be done all in one sitting. By setting small goals and spreading out the different amount of times that it will take to complete each goal allows for your PLN to become exactly what you want it to be. For example, the goal that I have set for myself today is to simply create three PLN focused accounts across three different platforms, and I will give myself two weeks to do so. As an education student I have a lot of time before I will need my PLN, so if I spread out my goal due dates in this fashion, by the time I begin teaching I should have a fully curated PLN!

  6. I think my number one tip for getting connected online is to not get overwhelmed by the enormous amount of resources there are on the internet. There are so many great things out there, and it is so easy to click on one thing, then another, and so on. What ends up happening is that there is so much for us to get involved in, that we often only engaged in things at a very surface level because we want to be able to do everything. Start with a goal, or a list of 2-3 things, and prioritize them first. Then, go from there when you are ready.

  7. I want to lean more into TikTok and twitter in an educational sense. I plan to restructure my accounts and go from there. Some of the most enthralling information can be learned from fellow educators.

  8. I plan to start my day with a 5 minute catch up and save items requiring more in depth discovery to my Wakelet. Then in the evening I can review what I saved and keep or purge.

  9. After completing this program, I am excited to find teaching communities on Tik Tok and Twitter and interact with individuals that are currently in the field of education. I feel like having a community is a very important aspect of being successful in this profession.

  10. I definitely want to work on finding time for my PLN. I have thought of a couple times during the day I can spend time building my PLN. In the morning, having breakfast with my 18-month-old is a great time. Also, taking a few minutes out of my planned time would be great. The last time I thought of was after dinner. My husband and I usually watch tv or go outside and let our daughter play. All three of these times are perfect times where I can spend 10-15 minutes building and work on my PLN!

  11. My first goal in regards to a PLN is to create a twitter account specifically designated for teaching. I have never used twitter in an education way before, so I am interested to see what it has to offer. I feel as though the chats on twitter will offer me lots of new information and resources. I am also looking forward to following fellow teachers and using their links and resources in my future classroom.

  12. My goals for my PLN are to grow my knowledge by using new resources and connecting with others through a variety of ways. First, I want to create a twitter page that is specifically for teaching. On that teaching page I will follow educators and teacher pages that would help me further build or grow my PLN. I would also like to dig deeper and find other blogs that have different purposes to help with a wide range of things in and outside of the classroom such as what to do in certain situations, what worked for other educators, what didn’t work, etc.

  13. After reading this blog about PLN, it has inspired me to start building my PLN more thoughtfully. I want to spend more time building it and I could start with reading blogs more often or finding new ones that interest me. There are some days where I am very bored and find nothing to do, so I could use that time to be a bit more productive and build my PLN. Another way is through youtube. One of my favorite pastimes is watching youtube videos, so if I find videos to watch that relate to education while I am watching youtube in general, it will also help build my PLN.

  14. I have a goal to not only benefit my education and methods of teaching, but also to help my day to day misuse of an app. I am obsessed with tik tok, and I want to rebrand my account. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through the app I want to follow educational accounts and accounts of helpful resources. When I want to scroll, I will only look at my accounts I’m following. That way I don’t waste all my time, and be semi productive and learn. I already have stumbled on some accounts, and I haven’t yet taken advantage of them.

  15. My first goal is to give my twitter an update! I want to be more intentional about who I am following and what I am posting. I want to use twitter as a platform to connect with teachers and schools, and support other teachers as well.

  16. The first thing I will do is to make a dedicated educator account for Twitter. With this I plan on following some accounts focused on education and networking. I also plan on trying to find people that start engaging conversations so that I will be able to read and interact with those conversations.

  17. One aspect I want to focus on for my PLN is actually finding a platform that best suits me and my students. Social media, like Twitter, is a great way to be engaging with older students, but it can also get out of hand if isn’t properly moderated. If Instagram is/was considered a PLN, that would probably be my go-to because it’s user friendly, can be made public or private, many students and teachers use it, and it’s easier to share posts amongst a group of people.

  18. My first focus is going to be going through my extra email inbox full of ideas I have sent myself and curating them in a more organized fashion using livebinder. This will help me identify the names of the sources and begin engaging on the internet with the educators whose materials/ideas I have saved (or used) already.

  19. I chose to pay it forward! I work with teachers in a Montessori school who are always looking for ways they could improve themselves as educators but I especially wanted to share with my friend who is an up and coming art teacher because I feel she will be able to prepare for her teaching career better with this head start!

  20. I have never been one to join blogs because I always felt that the notifications on it would drive me crazy. However, after exploring a few different blogs I can see the benefits and all the information that can be shared. There are so many different blogs for different things that you can find so much information anywhere. I would also like to make a Feedly account too since I do not have one yet.

  21. When thinking about my PLN plan going forward, I really need to keep in mind the advice that it’s the quality over the quantity of information and engagement. I can see how diving into these communities head first can be overwhelming for an already busy educator. My goal is to find ten quality people/organizations to follow on my newly-rediscovered Twitter account and then log in and review their posts each day over the next month. Maybe I’ll be inspired to find more to follow by that point! I also plan to be deliberate. I will spend 15 minutes of my plan period at least twice a week reading and curating information. I want to be able to share at least one new idea or resource with my English team in my building at our weekly meetings. This will be a great way for me to start sharing the information I’ve learned before I find an avenue for online sharing that works for me.

  22. Pay it Forward: As a conclusion to this course on PLNs, I chose to send the course to my cousin who recently started online classes to become an elementary school teacher. I think that this is something that will be very beneficial to her as she is beginning her journey toward becoming an educator. Hopefully she will be able to gain more knowledge so she can start building a network before she enters the field.

  23. I plan to begin using my PLN by first finding people and websites that I relate to and want to learn more from. I will be able to find them on different platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. By following them they will become a part of my everyday life and as I feel more comfortable looking at their content, I can begin to share mine on a platform/platforms of my choice.

  24. I will definitely come back to these 7 steps in case I have any questions or forget any information that I learned. I will also come back to some blogs and website tools to help me lesson plan if I ever need them. I will make time by doing things one at a time so that I could have an easy and effective PLN for others to come back and look at and help them spark up their minds and ideas.

  25. Time management has never been my favorite thing or my strong suit. But after realizing the importance of PLN I definitely think there are so many easy ways that I can fit into my everyday routine. One way I could fit this in my routine would be to have it when I am doing other things. This could be while I am waiting on my food to cook or even taking a bathroom break. I spend a lot of time winding down at the end of the day by just scrolling on social media and feel like this is very much a place where I could substitute building and using my PLN. I may also find it useful to set a reminder on my phone to take the time to check my PLN by the end of the day. I am currently using Duolingo to learn Spanish and it sends me notifications throughout the day to keep my streak and this really encourages me to keep it going and to open the app in case I forgot to spend time on it.

  26. One way I can make time for my PLN would be to, instead of mindlessly scrolling on twitter, I can spend some of that time creating a PLN for myself. I really like the idea being able to have a network of people who I can ask questions to as I start my teaching career. They will also help to give me inspiration on lesson plans, and hopefully after I have gained some experience, I will be able to share my wisdom with others.

  27. I plan to use all of the tips located above to help me make use of my time. I will try to use my time wisely as I develop my PLN. Perhaps, instead of scrolling through Instagram in the mornings, I will try to make connections by joining education groups on some of the platforms. I can allow myself to become aware of the educational aspects of social media and utilize my resources.

  28. If you are feeling overwhelmed about building your PLN, narrow your focus on forms of social media, blogs, etc. you already use in your everyday life. For example, I use Twitter on a daily basis, so I built my PLN around it. Once you have chosen a social media platform or blog, focus on 2-3 topics that interest you or you would like to learn more about. This will help you build up your knowledge on a core group of topics, and you can always expand your horizons moving forward.

  29. I plan on using PLN to connect more with content creators whether it’s just Twitter or even since times are changing now, with Tik Tok as well. And because I’m very outspoken I’m sure that I can create my own platform to share my own ideas/opinions!

  30. I think that the main aspect of PLN that I want to emphasize putting effort into first would be simply starting the networking process. From what I’ve learned throughout this mini-course, I think a good start would be to make a Twitter account and begin following local educators as well as some of the leaders in the field. By doing this, I automatically am exposing myself to many different viewpoints which can in turn stimulate my own creative spirit to create content for my future students. One area of education that I truly want to focus on in this process would be that of counselors as that is the field I am aiming to enter following completion of my degree.

  31. My goal for now is to start a following on Twitter. I think because I use Twitter currently it will be easy for me to search for people that I think will benefit my PLN. I want to search for teachers that tweet about their experiences and who share tools and resources that they have found to be beneficial. From there, I am sure I will come across other people that they reference to continue to grow my network.

  32. I think I need to first make time to create a PLN. As an aspiring educator, I’m still learning and don’t have enough classroom experience. I think what I could do is start to follow any educators or thought leaders on my social media accounts so that I can gain a better perspective on how to act in the classroom, how to teach to students that have different challenges, and how to make sure that the content/topics I’m teaching are being effectively taught and comprehended for different learners.

  33. My goal is to follow three new educator accounts that I found out about through this program. Then I was to learn about Feedly to organize these accounts. Finally, I want to implement one new thing I learned via these accounts into a lesson plan.

  34. As I worked through the PLN assignments, I was able to learn about PLN, what it is, how to use it to my advantage, and how to apply it to education. I am able to share my knowledge with other educators collaboratively. I will use the information I was given to help my teaching skills and help others.

  35. After completing all seven steps I feel that I will definitely try and start interacting with PLNs and possibly create my own. I will probably use other forms of social media and after completing the blog post step I will definitely try to continue to view blog posts. Since I am an education minor I am unsure if I want to teach but I feel interacting with other educators on these platforms could give me the inspiration to possibly become a teacher.

  36. My goal is to find more tools that will help me teach mine and student(s’) interests. I want to find other tools that can help me teach as well. Not every child learns the same. I want to be able to teach in a variety of ways so I can support all of my students.

  37. As I completed this PLN work through, I decided to share what I know about PLN’s to a friend, who is not necessarily a teacher, but is someone who works in the school system as a reading specialist. It was important for me to share the bridges that having a PLN can gap, like connecting through hashtags and social media. Through this, I relayed how interesting and easily accessible it is for her and others to join together and connect through this network.

  38. A few years ago, I downloaded Twitter and found that it did not benefit me in any way, so I deleted it, but I do like Facebook and Instagram. I would like to start by joining some teacher-friendly Facebook groups and following some teachers on Instagram. More recently, I have started following a couple teachers on Instagram and TikTok to help me learn more about the education field. I also enjoy watching YouTube videos about teachers but find it discouraging at times because many of the YouTube videos are about why teachers want to leave the profession. Hence the greater focus on social media.

  39. I think for me personally I need to look through all the platforms and find one that I enjoy looking at. This then will inspire me to post my own or just find the people I want to follow. My plan is to start small and do a little at a time otherwise I will become overwhelmed. I have really liked what I have found so I think this is a great start to my PLN. Over the next week, I plan on utilizing the hashtags I learned about and seeing which platform feels like an educational home for me.

  40. My firs big step was I created a twitter account today, up to this point I had avoided it, for reasons I can’t really put my finger upon. However, this course made me realize what a vital tool it could be to help me as I create my PLN. I’ve already followed many educators and accounts that seem to be like educational think tanks. I was inspired by a couple lesson plans already. The second thing I have done is set up a Pocket account to begin to create a bank of information for myself. I love that pocket allows me to return and read an article, journal, or blog post I may have missed during a busy day, whether I have Wi-Fi or not! They have a tag feature which allows me to classify my pocketed articles and keep them in categories. My hope is that in using my new twitter and pocket accounts I can begin to build a PLN that enriches me, my future classroom, and ultimately my students.

  41. I am very good at time management as it is but there is always room for improvement. One way that I can manage my priorities in order to set aside time to start building my PLN is by treating my priorities as if they were ranked on a caste system. What I mean by this is ranking my priorities as well as the things I want to do from most pressing/important to optional/if time-willing. All non-negotiable priorities and commitments would obviously go at the top and would be completed first. Then, after those are handled, I could use the rest of my remaining time to delegate moments that I am going to use to build my PLN/compile information and resources that are going to help with my future teaching and to do other things that might not even be related to teaching at all. This way, I am using all of my time wisely and making sure that I am setting aside time to start building my PLN.

  42. For my personal PLN, I plan to use Instagram to share advice and activities that worked best in my classroom. My goal is to be open and real. I want to post atleast once a week and sometimes ask for advice from other teachers. I want to be able to give advice and also receive advice by using my PLN.

  43. Goals I would have for implementing a PLN and carving out time to start is just to begin small in using the tools out there. Its easy to get overwhelmed, as stated above, so starting small and spending a few minutes here and there to build up will hopefully go far! There isn’t much from my browser I would delete to make room for a PLN, but filtering out and choosing some over others might be necessary. I plan to try and join a few blogs as a goal, and research some sites for educational blogs. One other goal would be to look at some of the tools from the previous pages and see how they work.

  44. Since I’m already connected to some online PLN tools already through my school, I want to utilize them more and pay closer attention to the information they offer. I will also plan to start using Diigo in my grad classes to help organize reference material. During the summer months, I will aim to set up a Twitter account again for the purpose of connection with content and grade specific groups for ideas for next year.

  45. A routine is key to success in any field. For this I plan to develop a solid PLN group and engage with them via social media. I plan to read a lot of blogs and utilize the many tools I find from my PLN. Then I plan to perhaps blog myself from time to time.

  46. I plan on using my PLN to help me develop as a young teacher. Next year will hopefully be my first year of teaching and I’ve been eager to get started for awhile. However, I’m aware of how challenging it’s going to be at time and I know that developing my PLN now will give me a slight head start and help me a lot along the way. I think being more active on Twitter will help me a lot more than I initially thought. Even though I’m a younger person, Twitter is the only social media app that I’ve never used. I know how popular it is though and I think I can use that to my advantage. Pairing Twitter with my Pinterest use will create a good foundation that I can hopefully build upon as I grow as a teacher.

  47. My plan for my PLN is to use it as a way to gain encouragement and vision from other educators. Hopefully, I will do this by spreading positivity and insight from my own experience. I also plan to use the resources that are available to me through all of the PLNs that were explained through this resource. Even while I was reading through the tweets I sent my mother (an English teacher) a post on a new way to present vocabulary to her students!

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