Trying to jump into a PLN (Professional Learning Network) can be daunting. There are a bunch of excellent resources out there, but it’s easy to fall down an Internet rabbit hole and emerge without a lot to show for it. Here are some tips you can use as you start your networking.
1. Start with what you know.
Are you already on LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Begin with groups you’re already comfortable with, and use those to help you find new resources. Join a few extra teaching groups on LinkedIn, follow a few more people your teacher-friends follow on Twitter or Facebook. Have a favorite piece of software or hardware? Find the company that makes it and follow them to get tips and tricks about using it.
2. Let someone else vet blogs for you.
There are a bunch of blogs that focus on teaching and edtech. But it’s hard to know which have useful information or come from reliable groups or individuals. There are a number of sites out there, such as Teach 100, that rate the content or authority (number of social media shares, etc.) for each blog. This is also a good place to look to find niche blogs. It’s great to get a wide variety of information from Edutopia, but sometimes you just want to hear what another 7th grade Math teacher has to say.
3. Follow sources from posts/Tweets you like.
Pretend you’re one of your students, and you’re finding sources for a bibliography. A good place to start is always with the sources/footnotes of the book you’re currently reading. The same thing holds with building your PLN. Follow the source links that are embedded in a post or Tweet you liked. If that source seems useful, follow them too. Gradually your PLN ‘bibliography’ will grow.
4. Set a reasonable goal for yourself.
If you want to flesh out your PLN, set a weekly goal—something reasonable, like reading one new blog post or following one new person on Twitter. There is absolutely no need to jump in all at once. There’s a great chance you’ll burn out, if you do.