Personal Learning Network

PLN-1

Photo CC- by Caroline Bucky

A personal learning network, or PLN, is an informal learning environment. In a PLN, people interact and learn from one another. Ideally, this interaction between professionals in the same or similar fields will bring about changes to how the individual views learning, teaching, and challenges.

PLNs are personal, meaning that each is unique to the individual. Though there are great resources online to draw from when starting a PLN, such as the article Personal Learning Networks for Educators: 10 Tips, there is not really a wrong way to go about creating a PLN.

My PLN

To build my own personal learning network I will be searching for elementary school teachers to learn from, both on blogs and Twitter.

I would like to follow the blogs of elementary school teachers. I want to find out how these teachers organize their space, create reading centers, and manage their time. I want to know about the strategies and practices they feel make them effective teachers. I also want to add in some differentiation sites, as this is an area I need to grow in. The third kind of site I want to look for is how to create a “teacher wardrobe.” I know to some this may sound silly to some, but I am a jeans and sweater kinda girl. I have got to get some appropriate teacher clothes!

I will also look at Classroom 2.0. This site is like an ongoing conversation between educators. It looks like a place to find and compare resources, though as I have not delved too much into this site I don’t yet know if it will fit into my PLN.

My 2 Discoveries

Chain illustration

Photo CC- by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

The most interesting thing that I discovered while researching PLNs was about the strength of weak ties. This is a concept that states that the people that we are the most unlike will cause us to grow the most. We spend the most time communicating with those who are most like us in actions or beliefs. Then there is the next level out, which is the people who we really like, but have distinct differences with. Last, there are the weak ties, those who are part of our social or learning networks that are unlike us. The weak ties provide the greatest opportunity for growth because they cause us to think by questioning our ideas or convictions. This is the beauty of PLNs: they provide us with the opportunity to create some weak links, which in turn, cause us to become stronger.

The second discovery was regarding being careful with accepting all information. This goes hand in hand with being authentic in communication. I need to remain true to who I am and not simply jump on a bandwagon that social media seems to be riding. Just as I am needing to teach my students to filter information they get from the internet, I need to do the same. Do I trust the sources I am following? Where are they getting their information? I want to grow, but I need to be wise while doing so.

This week I will be creating my PLN. I am looking forward to seeing how I can learn from others who have been succeeding as educators, differentiating in their classrooms, and looking fashionable while doing so!

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8 thoughts on “Personal Learning Network

  1. I love your concept of the strength of weak ties. It’s true, the more diverse and different we are the more we will learn from each other. If we all were the same we would all think the same and that’s boring and no fun. I like having conversations with people different than me because I can see things from a different view and think back to how I saw that. I couldn’t agree with you more when you say that you have to be careful with accepting all information. It was a little difficult trying to find those who are reliable and can be trusted with what they are saying. I just went to their profiles and read most of their posts and based off of what I saw I made the choice whether they were reliable or not.

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    • Kayla, I like the idea of looking at profiles and several posts, it does give you a good idea of who the person is. Thanks for your thoughts on weak ties as well, I agree that it would be pretty boring if all we did was share the same ideas between people who are just like us.

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  2. I like that you call it an “informal learning environment”. I think of it that way too. I also think it’s a place where you can steal everything and never get in trouble! I’m not saying I’m a thief, but I fully intend to be a pirate when it comes to my classroom and pintrest!

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    • I have a professor that always tells us that stealing in education is not really stealing, it is just taking things that make us better teachers. I have Pinterest teacher board, and I am so excited to use the things I have collected. Also, if people don’t intend for us to copy it, they would not put it up!

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  3. Great info here! I also love your teacher network picture – how funny!
    The strength of weak ties is a good concept, and not what I was thinking when I first read the phrase. I was thinking ‘weak link’ stuff…good reminder that challenges build our strengths. We learn from others whose strengths and weaknesses compliment our own.

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    • To be honest, learning from others is kind of painful. I want to be the best I can be, but a lot of times I don’t like to change. You are right, we can learn a lot from others whose strengths and weaknesses compliment our own, and weak ties can be what show us where our abilities are lacking. If my thinking or actions need to change so I become a better person or teacher, then it is my responsibility to change regardless of how painful it is.

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