The Power of PLNs

Community Participant


As I gear up for my 2nd InstructureCon and continue working on a Masters in EdTech Leadership, I have really been putting a lot of thought into Personal Learning Networks. My goal has been to create a great inner circle with strong educators who can help me elevate my game and hone my craft. Thanks to Carol Dweck, I am no longer focused on being a natural. I have embraced the iceberg success metaphor of growth mindset and I must say it took me a long time to really internalize and change my semi fixed mindset. Now more than ever it is easier to really connect with other teachers. The power of forming connections around the world cannot be understated! Sometimes we might be the only teacher in our building for a certain subject or grade level and collaboration may not have been possible by just going down the hall. No longer do teachers have to feel like they are on an island! As a Latin teacher, I know very well how lonely it can be to connect with someone on my content, but now with social media I can find other Latin enthusiasts and get some really great ideas. And even if you have other colleagues in the building sometimes it can be easier to seek help from someone outside your building. We as teachers sometimes have a hard time asking for help from colleagues within our building for fear of being “evaluated” or “judged” or perhaps our department or team is involved in a lot of groupthink. We often shut our doors and dive into our own classrooms. The issue can be that our teaching becomes stale and we lack perspective. 

For the first 10 years of my career I was also the 8th grade baseball coach and I coached the team by myself with no oversight. As a result I had total control and did not have to run my plan by anyone, which was great. However, the last 4 years I have been promoted to our JV Head coach and Varsity assistant. This was a hard adjustment. I no longer have final say over the practice plan. And sometimes my roster is changed last minute based on what Varsity needs that day. However, my coaching game has greatly benefitted from sharing space with 2 other coaches. I have learned new ways of phrasing techniques, new ways to give signs and just new perspective on players and how I assess them. Once I got over being defensive about my game play decisions, I was able to really learn and progress instead of being afraid that I was being evaluated and judged with each decision I made.

I have 3 recommendations that really helped me reach a new level within my own career, I would recommend that each teacher/coach first watch a TED talk called Are you human? by Frank Ze. It helps us laugh at our humanity and not take ourselves too seriously or be too tough on ourselves. In addition to that I would encourage you to read more about Carol Dweck and her psychology of success with growth mindset. And finally think about what PLNs you are involved in and to also think about how much you consume as well as how much you contribute to that PLN. Here are a few PLNs that I have found very useful!

1. Canvas LMS Community

We use Canvas as our LMS and I love to pose questions as well as blog about my experiences for the benefit for others! And I am very excited to be attending my second InstructureCon next week! The people I have met through here has been vital to my personal success! I can’t wait to thank some of them in person next week! (Last year I was too chicken to go up and say hello to those who had inspired/helped me-laurakgibbs,  @kona  and  @James  just to name a few! Smiley Happy)

2. Google+

We are a GAfE school and I have found posting here to be very useful when I have a Google question! There are also events I can sign up for in my local area and just a great place to connect with other Google educators!

3. FB groups-Spanish Teachers who use Avancemos

This FB group allows me to connect with other Spanish teachers who use the same textbook as me! We can share resources and talk about activities and projects that we have found success with and maybe share some struggles in hopes of gaining some inspiration and insight

4. ISTE Connect

This allows me to connect with other EDTech fanatics and get access to research based instructional practices! With the premium membership (which I cannot afford) it also allows you access to 4 peer reviewed journals!

5. Twitter

I have only been on twitter for just under 1 year. I used to think it was a breeding ground for Kardashian wannabes. However by curating a strong Twitter feed I can see a lot of great ideas and articles. I love following Edutopia, Common Sense Media and local educators! It's great for getting a pulse on what others are doing as well as a way to showcase the great work you are accomplishing in your schools! Follow me @EdTechYoder

The most important thing I have learned is to not rest on my laurels. I need to continue to practice and hone my craft. Just like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan perfected their swings and shots so must I perfect the way I ask questions, form assessments and give feedback. I hope that I never stop seeing the value in learning and trying new things! I hope the same for you too! 

See you next week!!!

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InstructureCon 2019

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