Education

Why a PLN is Vital to You

Develop PLNI think for school library media specialists a PLN (professional or personal learning network) is essential.  After all, unless we work in a large school with several LMSs or support staff, no one knows are jobs but us. Consequently the rich staff development that is offered at our schools or our districts, while relevant to us in our teaching and administrative contexts, provides little information that is specific to the totality of our jobs.

Enter the PLN.  One of the really wonderful aspects of the PLN is that we are in control of its design. We get to choose whom we follow, like and respond.  The freedom to choose allows us to tailor our PLNs to target our interests and needs. Your PLN and mine may have some common members, but our total experiences are diverse and ideally carefully suited to each  us.

The graphic above provides very useful tips for developing a PLN, but I would like to add one more: Paper.li.  Paper.li is a news aggregator that collects the information posted by those you want to follow.  This allows you to combine the works of the key people you follow into one site, which produces a newspaper-type   display.  This saves you a lot of time going through individual tweets and blogs.  You can select up to 25 sources for Paper.li to curate.  If you would like to see some examples relevant to school library media specialists, I suggest The Shannon Miller Daily, Technically Invisible Daily, The Joyce Valenza Daily, and LibraryCafe.  My paper.li is InfoGod*

Once you form your PLN it is important to set aside time to nurture and invest in the professional relationships.  This is easy to do during the summer, but much more difficult during the school year. Aim for 30 minutes a day, or perhaps a couple hours on the weekend.

I definitely believe you should start a blog, write regularly and announce your published posts to your PLN via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, whatever.  Yes, at first putting your thoughts “out there” is kind of scary.  You don’t have to publish everything you write, but those working through NBCT candidacy should write and publish as often as possible.  Invite feedback on your insights, musings and reflections.  Reaching out to other LMSs, teachers and education leaders is good for   candidacy process.

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