Within the silo of a school
or classroom, it’s difficult to find time for
meaningful conversations about what works and why.
By reaching beyond school walls and connecting with colleagues from around
the globe, many educators have discovered vibrant learning communities in which
teachers and leaders share ideas and propel each other to grow.
Getting connected isn’t always easy. We asked some
of our most plugged-in educators to offer tips on how to connect with colleagues outside your school
to form an invaluable professional learning network. Take a look at the infographic below and read on to find out what they advise.
1. Dedicate time for networking.
Networking may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Half the battle
is simply setting aside time to initiate conversations,
whether online or in person.
“Find a way to regularly get together with excellent
educators to fine-tune your practice,” said Flip Your Classroom
co-author Jon Bergmann. “Don’t have an agenda, but just talk about good practices.”
2. Participate in ed chats.
Educators get together on Twitter at regular times to talk about the subjects
that ignite them. Throughout the week, dozens of education-related
chats on topics ranging from 1:1 to flipped learning present opportunities
to build relationships.
“You can build a great PLN and connect with like-minded educators by
following the Twitter hashtags that most interest you in terms of grade level,
subject area or topic,” said education consultant and author Jerry Blumengarten.
3. Join a network.
If handpicking your personal network seems too time consuming, you can join a
ready-made group such as one of ISTE’s Professional Learning Networks (PLNs). Each one focuses on a specific topic or area of
interest, and many provide year-round professional learning as well as
opportunities for leadership and collaboration.
4. Attend conferences and edcamps.
Events such as the ISTE Conference & Expo provide an opportunity for face-to-face collaboration and can
deepen your connection to your PLN. Many educators with online networks relish
the chance to meet their distant colleagues in person.
“By taking part in conferences such as ISTE, ALA, November Learning BLC
Conference, School Library Journal Summit and edcamps, I have strengthened and
deepened the relationships that started online with my educator friends and
colleagues,” said education consultant and speaker Shannon Miller. “These
relationships have brought so many amazing things back to my students and school
community, including collaborative projects, connected classrooms and exchanges
between our students.”
5. Share your ideas.
True connection is a two-way street. Sharing content online — rather than
merely consuming it — can help you find like-minded colleagues to collaborate
“One way I find educators to connect with is to create a survey on a hot
topic that I am interested in, spread the word through my social media channels,
and tell the respondents that I will share the collected data with them,” said
educational technologist Kathy
Schrock. “I often find some creative new item or idea, and I can contact
that person and connect for more information.”
Writing your own blog is another way to initiate conversations online, said
Science Leadership Academy founding principal Chris Lehmann.
“Blogging is still really important,” Lehmann said. “People are still
reading, and the voices of educators are more important than ever.”
6. Ask a connected educator for help.
“If you are unsure about how to use the internet to connect, find somebody
else who has connected online and learn how they connect,” Bergmann said.
This is an updated version of a post that published on Oct. 10, 2014.