I am a teacher who loves to learn. I want to know what is going on out there. I love to bounce ideas back and forth with my colleagues. I love to talk about what we are doing and how it is going. However, my circle was small.
My circle of "peeps" grew to an amount I never would have imagined in the last year. I couldn't be happier. On twitter, or really in the digital world, we refer to these "peeps" as our PLN. That stands for Personal Learning Network.
It is personal, because you choose who you place there. You are learning constantly. The network is global. It truly does flatten our professional world and opens opportunities to you through the discussions, resources and extensions you become involved in.
However, when I began I didn't know how to get there. The first step I took was getting involved in twitter chats. I had no idea they even existed! Rather than go into a lengthy description of how, when, where...I'll give you two exceptional links that will answer all those questions. Alice Keeler is an amazing resource for many things, but here is her great resource for twitter chats . She tells you all you need to know on how to do it. I encourage you...do it!
I started with a chat called #teacherfriends . They were just getting started about the same time I was. It was perfect. The main purpose of this chat is to support newbies. They also add to awesome with great moderators and PRIZES! It has become much more busy over the year, but I would still recommend it as a great place to begin. They meet every Tuesday at 9:00 PM EST. Once I experienced a chat I started attending them all. It was summer! A great time to explore. I have narrowed my chats during the school year to a few of my favorites, but in the summer I do enjoy checking out others. The chats are a part of the "personal" part of it. You have to choose by your interest, goals and motivations. My regular chats are my grade level chat, Christian educators, Elem Math Chat and Teacher Friends. There is an extensive list. Another awesome resource for anything and everything, including a list and time for all twitter chats is Cybrary Man. Here is his page on twitter .
Once I was involved in twitter chats I began to follow people. I follow people I admire. I follow people who challenge me. I follow people who are like minded and I feel I could connect with. The thing that has amazed me more than anything is that the community is so incredibly positive. There is a willingness to help, to share, encourage and it is so welcoming. I have loved becoming a part of a group of connected educators. I learn new things almost daily.
I have learned things I doubt I would have learned without joining twitter. You will hear people talk about it being your own personal professional development. They are absolutely correct. I have learned more here in this first year than I have learned in years. The digital world is constantly growing, constantly changing. So in order for me to keep up, I really needed to be connected.
Where do I hope to go with this in the next year....
I want to become one of the leaders, not always following. I will always follow others, but I think we all can take on both roles. I have things to learn. It is ever changing, always something waiting for me to hear about, try and then share. I am getting use to 140 characters...but I still need more. I hope to connect with some of my PLN in other ways and go deeper and learn more. So many opportunities await and I am nothing but excited to see where it takes me! I hope you will join me there.