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. (1) Having created a Twitter profile and followed some thought leaders and educational organizations, my short-term goal is to check my Twitter feed on a weekly basis in search of new ideas that will help me to develop my PLN and find ways to use it. For now, I will probably “lurk” around and see which Twitter conversations will be the best niches for me, as a preservice History teacher. And in the longer-term, once I feel comfortable with Twitter I will start sharing my thoughts within my PLN and attending some virtual PD events, if I get the chance.

  2. My main focus on PLN is to explore more blogs and Twitter accounts that give first-time teachers advice. Once I start teaching in my classroom, it would be great to read and get advice from first times teachers. I want to feel comfortable leaving comments and creating conversations to build relationships.

    1. Hi Yasmin,
      Your plan sounds pretty solid. Getting comfortable will happen overtime, at some point you’ll have to jump in, and it may be uncomfortable but, don’t let that stop you. Also, by starting your blog or social media account you can also be that first time teacher that helps other teachers on their journey.

  3. My goals for the future and building my PLN all center around building a diverse network of educators and educational minded thinkers. I want to be able to use my PLN to get ideas for classroom activities, find motivation for my work, and to keep up to date of current educational and chemistry related research. I also hope that I can provide these things to the people in my PLN by having interactive and give-take relationships with others. I plan on setting up an educational twitter account and spending about 20 minutes on it daily in order to build my connections.

  4. The first PLN goal that I have is to streamline the followers that I have on Twitter using the ‘quality over quantity’ principle. When I first set it up, I found as many pages as I could to follow and I already know that this will be overwhelming to me. I need to go back and think about what pages to select that will be most valuable to me. Then, after I do that, I would like to participate in my first twitter chat so that I can get the experience of watching ideas be shared first hand. The best time of my day to set aside for this goal would be right after the school day. When I am done teaching my last class, I am too tired to do any meaningful planning or grading. So, I think that a session of brainstorming and communicating with others would be more refreshing to me. I think that once I get into a good routine of interacting with my PLN, this will be the best time for me to continuously work on it.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      You’re correct – quality matters. The last thing you want is to be bombarded by irrelevant information. By choosing who you follow and what you subscribe to wisely you’ll be able to get to content that is of the highest value to you first.

  5. My goals for expanding my PLN are to follow at least one new school psychologist / education related Twitter pages a week. In order to start small, I am going to try to reach out to one school psychologist on Twitter at least once a month. I also want to start curating more blogs and getting into a habit of checking them more regularly.

  6. I would like to first start by rejoining twitter and exploring the educators and other teachers on there. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the social, and current events part that twitter has to offer. But I would like to visit different educators profiles to find more information, about what they share and how they created their classroom environments. I hope to be able to learn new things and find ways to incorporate more social networks in a positive way to stay connected with fellow educators. I want to continue to build on my networking skills, and find new ways to teach in the classroom from what I learn through these subscriptions and connections.

  7. I think finding time for my PLN will be the most challenging part of this. It is so easy to get wrapped up in everyday tasks and work-life that it might be difficult to remember to sit down and work on this. Following the 7 steps has really proved to me that it is more accessible than I might think. It doesn’t have to be this big project, scrolling through Twitter and “lurking” is something I would actually enjoy doing. It will just take time to grow my networks and feeds but that is to be expected. I am looking forward to figuring out all the new things coming about online education wise.

    1. Hi Meghan,
      Finding time to commit to your PLN can be a challenge but, by committing as little as 20 minutes a day you could make some significant headway. By working through this series you’ve taken a step in the right direction – maintain the momentum.

  8. Goals: My first goal for building a PLN is to finish setting up my twitter account by starting to follow other educators. I also want to improve my Pinterest account for it to be strictly school related.

  9. I find myself looking at Blogs and online resources when I am planning lessons out and need help, however, I never look at these consistently. I think something I could benefit from is staying up to date with a few blogs and maybe getting weekly/monthly updates on new things that have been posted. This will benefit me in the long run because I will be able to keep track of different lessons and materials that I have seen along hte way that I might want to use in the future, and instead of having to search for everything when I need it, I can have some ideas up my sleeve.

    1. Hi Katherine,
      Waiting until you need something to search can feel overwhelming – so having a curated list will definitely be beneficial. In addition, you may also find it useful to invest at least 20 minutes a day nurturing your PLN.

  10. In addressing Prompt 2, I think it is definitely important for me to free up time to establish my PLN. Going through the 7 steps has really opened my eyes to the importance of establishing a network that constantly gives me information and ideas. As a result, I want to dedicate myself to a few hours a week in which I search for ways to grow my network. I can do this through Twitter and through looking at educational blogs, maybe even subscribing to one if I find it particularly helpful. A big part of establishing a PLN is knowing where to search, and I think that this process has certainly helped with that. I also think it would be productive to follow one new educator on Twitter a week. Over time, I will grow my network and increase the amount of information that is available on my timeline. By following these new standards I’ve set for myself and my PLN, I think that I will have a great network that will constantly help me grow as an educator.

  11. I got so much from this post and PLN. I plan on first starting out by connecting with others on some of these great resources out there. I am a new teacher, so I have not had the opportunity to reach out and connect with different resources. So I think that this post has helped guide me towards some good resources to connect to, and how they are useful in teaching.

  12. My goal is to start joining more educator groups on Facebook and to hop on Twitter more often so I can go through some Twitter chats. I feel like I will best start my own PLN by seeing what others post. Then, I will create my own pages and start gathering content. I want to put my name out there as much as possible! I love net-working.

  13. Setting a routine is key when it comes to making time to work on your PLN. I see myself creating a routine so I too can work on my PLN in the future. It’s as simple as setting aside 30 minutes to 1 hour a day at a specific time. Focusing on the PLN is crucial too during this routined time. All distractions must be eliminated in order to receive the full benefits of working on the PLN

  14. I think a goal for myself when using PLNs is to connect with more elementary schoolers teachers through different social media platforms such as LinkedIn. I think it is super important to be able to use these platforms so that you are familiar with them when it comes to try and find a job. I think it is super important to have those connections when it comes to social media platforms so that you can stay connected and meet new people.

  15. 2. Finding time to work on a PLN is important. If a PLN is created through minimal effort, then what was the point of the PLN. The best way to make time for something is through being consistent. It should be the same time everyday. It should be a time that is completely free and undisturbed. A good time for this is immediately after completing a daily routine. For example if a person eats supper everyday at 6, immediately after this is a good time.

  16. My goals, are reach out on Facebook and LinkedIn and connect with other elementary education teacher. Not only connect with them, but also share resources that I have found helpful. Making time to do this is also important to me because, time management is something that I struggle with, so making theses goals and sticking to them, I think will help me manage my time better #teac295a

  17. 1. I have used twitter before because of my brother and friends, but I have never made an account. My goal is to create a twitter as it can be another helpful app, I can use for follow some of the future educators I may work with. Additionally, I know that I can follow my friends and sports related stuff on twitter.
    2. I will make time to build up my PLN by using it in my classroom, and making critiques to it after every time I use it. Because PLN’s can use technology, there are always ways that I can improve my PLN because of how diverse technology is. I will compare and contrast with my educators I might work with to see how I can improve my PLN. I will make time by analyzing my PLN every week on a specific day.
    3. Setting a routine is a tip that I think will help start building my PLN. Looking at blogs here and there will start the foundation of my PLN, and then I can build off of it. Having routines for other classes have always been helpful for me, or even for sports. I know that if I have a routine for my PLN, I will be set up for success.
    4. I have asked my previous high school soccer coach who is a teacher at Lincoln High for social studies, if he has ever had trouble making lesson plans. I provided him with the link for him to check out some tips to making a lesson plan.
    5. My goal is to get familiar with twitter so I can try and use it with other educators, as a source, or for activities that can help my students engage with the material. I am very knowledgeable about Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat. I have never used twitter and I am looking forward to learning about it. I will definitely get twitter and use it.

  18. One tip I have for building a PLN is to search for groups of educators because that will allow you to find many people in the education field.

  19. I will make time to build my PLN by watching less TV. By watching less TV I will be able to spend more time building my PLN.

  20. One goal I have for my PLN is to connect with educators from around my hometown so I know what problems they are having so I can try and find solutions.

  21. My goal is to make my personal Pinterest posts better, I definitely get on Pinterest more than any other form of social media. I like scrolling through and seeing other people’s ideas and content and saving them to my boards for later use. I could also get more involved on Twitter, I just created it for this assignment so I don’t have much experience with it.

  22. After completing the course I have discovered there to be a GREAT need for building my PLN. I want to stay connected through different educational networks, as well as work on my personal platforms that can be accessed by both students and other educators. I think Twitter is going to be a great place to start, with a plethora of other sites to gain resources from. My first step in building my PLN is going to be conducting research of other educators in similar fields as me, hoping to develop better ideas and insights as I go along! This has been a great learning opportunity.

  23. My goal for PLN is to utilize twitter to its full capabilities. After working on this project, I feel as if I have used my social media platforms for a very surface level usage. I want to dive deeper so that I can become better at my job as well as being able to help those around me.

  24. My goal is to make my Twitter better, I probably get on Twitter way more than any other form of social media, so I think it would be good for me to start interacting with others. I like scrolling through and seeing other people’s posts but I never post/ reply. I could also add in some information about myself and add in some pictures of the different activities I use in my classroom. My goal would be for me to branch out more and get involved on other platforms so I can see what others are doing and if there is anything I could bring into my classroom.

  25. My PLN goal is to use social media as a window for me to have the best opportunitites for my students. I want the lessons that are student centered especially since I teach math. I want students to be actively engaged with any resources the school gives (meaning chromebooks and other tools). I will be using Twitter and Facebook more for this than social media. I may even create a classroom page for parents to follow to keep them in the loop of what is going on in their child’s class.

  26. One of my goals for my personal PLN is to use Twitter in more of a professional manner. I use it on a personal level to check on things, but I rarely post or use it on a personal level. Another goal I have is to build my own personal PLN. I think building a community of like minded professionals and using tools to help within the classroom is a great idea. I definitely see the use of having and building a PLN.

  27. My PLN goal is to be more consistent. I’ve created socials for my PLN but I am hoping to get really into it. I’d like to start posting at least twice a week and then work up to posting more frequently. I can’t wait to try curation tools as well! That’s going to be very excited. I also have a goal of making sure I’m interacting with other educators for ideas.

  28. My goal is to create a PLN that not only helps students and parents keep connected and understand what they need to know, but to also shed light on subjects other teachers may not know. Pinterest will be my best friend, but I will also be adding Youtube, email newsletters, and blogs to help do this. These are great tools for not only my students, but for other teachers. I know these can be a great asset in my classroom when I start to use them the way I was taught in the PLN course.

  29. My goal is to build my Twitter account. I think my Twitter could be useful in teaching as well as coaching. Twitter is a great networking tool that I could use to meet teachers and coaches from around the country, and I could learn new instructional strategies or drills from these teachers/coaches respectively. Also, Twitter is a great way to promote yourself. If a teacher is trying to apply for a new job, then the teacher can use their Twitter account to make themselves more desirable. They can do that by posting innovative instructional strategies and accomplishments on their feed.

  30. My goals for building my PLN are to start posted educational content and ideas regularly. I might start by making at least one post a week and working up to more. I would also like to customize my platforms with different curation tools to make them more aesthetic. I want to begin to find great podcasts to listen to and follow to learn more information from experts in my field. I would like to add updated/professional headshots to my social media sights.

  31. My goal is to make my Twitter more professional. I enjoy getting on Twitter and reading through different profiles, but I do not interact or retweet. My goal is to update my bio and to add links to favorite websites as well as photos. I also would like to set a goal to create a LinkedIn and learn how to maneuver that platform to interact and meet professionals. Seeing other ideas and creations is something I do a lot, so I know as I get further into my education career I will use PLN’s frequently and hope to have a successful one for myself that others will one day like to follow.

  32. My PLN goal is to build my social media networks in order to utilize resources and connect with other educators. I have never been very present on social media, but now that I am older I can see how it can be such a great resource instead of just a distraction. I want to build my Twitter and Pinterest profiles. I do not utilize Pinterest to the extent that I should. I need to build my Twitter profile to gain followers and make it look more professional. My plan of action to meet my goals is to spend some time every Tuesday night making mathematics boards on Pinterest and replying to educational Twitter threads.

  33. My goal is to work on updating my twitter and making it look a little more professional. I use to use twitter a lot when I was younger and my goal is to clean it up and make it educational and more geared toward my students and learning new ways of using this platform. I use many other platforms and I believe that they are better for connecting with educators but I will defiantly give this a shot and try and grow my PLN with it.

  34. My goal is to use my PLN and other resources to improve my use of engaging technology in the classroom. I will try to search a little every Tuesday. My go-to sources will be Pinterest, FaceBook, and I will try to look at Twitter a bit. My main goal, however, is to share and receive info from those already in my circle. I feel like I have so much to learn from those I see face-to-face right now.

  35. My current goal and has been for a while is to develop my PLN on LinkedIn. It has been a learning curve for me to figure out this platform and become comfortable with it. I️ am still working on learning the ins-and-outs of it, as well as finding others to connect with along the way. I️ am also working on building my profile to appear professional and reliable. My current plan is to connect with at least 2-3 people a week and learn something new. My main goal with this PLN is to surround myself with a good community of educators who can help me in my journey.

  36. My new goal is to use Twitter and learn more about it and connect with other teachers around the world to gain as much knowledge as possible. I want to be able to learn as much as I can about many different topics as possible. If I can help build my PLN in the amount of time that I am wasting on other social media platforms, then that time would be greatly improving my education on resources that I can take back to the classroom. I am not sure if I will continue to use all of the information/platforms provided in this course, but I definitely will take pieces from it all and use it accordingly.

  37. My social-media PLN is not going to become a formalized routine part of my life. It’s just not. I’m not interested in committing to that level of screen time. I’ve I’ve said before, I really am not interested in creating content for the masses. What I can commit to is cultivating a openness to having respect real-life friends, family, and co-workers share what they “curate” as worthwhile. I can commit to asking where and how they found these resources.

  38. My goal is to create a curation system to organize my new PLN resources and contributions. I plan to take a more active role in sharing ideas with others in the form of blogs and twitter.

  39. 1.) Begin curating a list of Blogs in a Feedly account
    2.) Begin leveraging Twitter as a PLN for wearable technology in connection with Polyvagal Theory and self-regulation.
    3.) Curate new resources and content found on a Flipboard

  40. Moving Forward to better make time for PLN make a goal to find at least one new piece of information to share with a educator friend or collaborating teacher that I found interesting or useful. That way I start building a sort of online “portfolio” of information I that I find helpful that I can practice with so that I’m better prepared and more knowledgable.

    Going through online browsing I feel like a lot of stress I once had about where to find ideas and help has diminished significantly. There are so many chats/ learning communities equipped with a great deal of opinions and helpful resources who are willing to offer a helping hand. Now, its mainly about using the resources that I am know aware of and paying this same information forward to other educators/ students who may need more direction or perspective.

  41. I think that going forward now, I will try and reach out to more people on social media that are directly involved with my profession, search for more blogs or articles that I can begin to compile in my own blog or a flipboard, and keep filling my pinterest with inspiration for the future and sharing that with others! I’m also going to take more advantage of using youtube as a great way to connect and find more information on things I want to know more about or get more involved in regarding the world of teaching!

  42. I have now made 3 new accounts; Twitter, Feedly, and Pinterest. I have not had too much time to search through them but I plan on spending quite some time building my PLN as I see how beneficial it can be. I want to find tips and tricks for first year elementary teachers.

  43. After reading this entire free professional learning series on building a PLN, I have thought of a few aspects I would like to focus on to develop my PLN! I mentioned earlier that Twitter had been my go-to social media platform to keep up-to-date with the latest news and developments. However, I have yet to use Twitter to follow other experts’ work in education. I want to follow ten educational thought leaders and check in on their tweets daily in the evening. I also want to participate in my first Twitter Chat before the month is over! I am excited to start building my personalized learning network!

  44. One of the goals I am setting after this course is setting aside time each day to check out content on a new platform. For example, I made a Twitter account and need to follow some more people and come back and check it often in order to really figure out how to use it as a tool to build my PLN and connect with others.

  45. My goal is to get better at the curation of content. I like that there are different websites that will help make the content more interesting for the students. Whether it is creating a dialogue with other students or helping to create a personal learning network of teachers with fresh ideas. The internet helps to provide us with valuable information, but also valuable relationships.

  46. I will dedicate thirty minutes every week day after my classes are complete in order to make sure I am taking an active role at expanding my PLN in even the smallest ways before I become more comfortable with using a PLN. Then, once it is properly set up, I may only work two or three times a week on expanding it, though I will always be on the hunt for new ways of doing things and new perspectives on pedagogy.

  47. I see through this lesson on PLNs that connecting with your community is really important. I typically stay to myself in my work and class environments but now I see how beneficial it is to connect with others. PLN makes the range of people to connect with bigger and more diverse. Even if you aren’t learning from it, you could be teaching someone and vice versa!

  48. My PLN goal is to connect on Twitter and Instagram and see if I could find educators in my field. I like the first two tips: do what best works for you, and start small. It is important to set your PLN to what suits you and get you the best results. Also, it important not to set too big. Just take one step at a time.

  49. The biggest tip for me is to start small. I get frustrated when things get overwhelming and there’s a vast amount of information out there. This 7 Step Challenge has put me on the path of building my PLN. I’ve created a Twitter account and started following some accounts that relate to my field of education. I’ve also learned about Twitter chats and have looked into #kinderchat. I’ve also decided to use my Pinterest account for more education related content. Right now my goal is to explore and learn more about Twitter and Pinterest.

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