Final(?) Reflections on Building a Professional Learning Network

At the beginning of November, we had a big push to engage with our Professional Learning Networks on Twitter, and I found myself growing increasingly comfortable with forwarding and engaging the ideas of others before finally putting out my own ideas and seeking feedback. (Check out the reflection here!) Through that experience, I felt more willing to embrace the vulnerability of engaging with a PLN. Since the original reflection that kicked off my deeper dive into a digital community of connected educators, I’ve purposefully expanded my PLN to include close contacts and complete strangers, and the inspiration I’ve gained from jumping in has only increased!

I would like to share here on a public blog a “Top 10” of contacts to consider following from three groupings in my PLN.

The first group includes educator/colleague relationships from prior to this course. These are contacts who have helped me develop in the past and with whom I’ve been able to rekindle a digital relationship!

1.:– This deeply reflective educator at Kansas State University has helped me recognize the importance of reflection and sharing your reflections with a larger community in order to advance the field of education. Also, she just finished her part of a really cool project working with contacts at the university and the White House to further dialogue on community development in Africa!

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2. – Another powerful educator at Kansas State University (and former U.S. Professor of the Year), following Mike’s tweets is like taking in rocket fuel for my imagination regarding teaching – for example, Teaching, The Limits of Formal Education, and Why Robots Can’t Dance! (Yes, this is one reflection!)

3. travis_starkey – From my days with Teach for America in Eastern North Carolina, Travis has been a constant inspiration for rethinking equity and possibilities in the classroom. Worth a follow!

The second group includes professional educators (including researchers, Ed.D holders, colleague educators, etc.) who I know only through the PLN on Twitter. Though there are MANY educators who are worth following, I personally have related with this list and believe them to be must-follows:

4.) – An editor for the State Education Resource Center of Connecticut, Jeremy is a major advocate for advancing digital and media literacy and their role in the arts, social justice, and humanity.

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5.)– This contact helped me imagine concrete steps for gamifying my curriculum and cares about sharing his reflections on furthering his craft – a great person to add to your network.

6.)  – Author of “For White People Who Teach in the Hood,” Christopher’s tweets are carefully crafted and his retweets purposeful in their selection. I have gained valuable tools for being a more culturally responsive and competent teacher through his connection.

7.)  – Todd is the co-author of the book “What Connected Educators Do Differently” and is highly responsive on Twitter! For not only the “how’s” but also the “why’s” of building a professional learning network follow Todd. His feed has helped me understand better ways to and reasons for building a professional learning network!

The third group of contacts who have helped me develop as a better educator and to understand the meaning and practice of digital literacy (and to consider adding to your own PLN!) includes organizations and individuals who aren’t necessarily direct educators.

8.)  – Village of Wisdom helps to promote the lifting and protection of Black Genius, ensuring the education field has a voice for equity and opportunity in the classroom. I have learned a great deal from meeting them and from their tweets about active work in erasing racism from education. Check out their clip from an interview with Chicago radio!

9.)  – I am becoming a believer in the Expeditionary Learning model of education, and following their feed has helped me connect digital literacy to teaching in a manner that builds better academics, citizens, and people!

10.)  – Mindshift explores the future of learning and covers cultural and tech trends and innovations in education. Their blogs and videos always have at least some applicability to my practices in teaching and digital literacy!


And finally, though I know I made this out to be a Top-10 list, I urge you, even if you do nothing else with this post, to follow:

11.)  – Rusul is an advocate for equal access to education and is truly an inspiration. Following her tweets and actions have helped me grasp further potential for teaching empathy through digital literacy! Check out her TED Talk here!

As I continue to develop my Professional Learning Network, this course has helped me start to understand the immense value of connecting with a larger network of educators to collaborate and communicate ideas and possibilities in the field of education. I feel this is a very real community of educators striving to give and take in order to make education ever more authentic, connected, equitable, and meaningful. Moving forward, though this course will be ending, I fully intend to continue on with my PLN, and I hope any who see this blog consider doing so yourselves! Cheers!


One thought on “Final(?) Reflections on Building a Professional Learning Network

  1. jschmid450 December 6, 2016 / 12:46 am

    Wow, that is an impressive list. I remember 2-3 years doing something along those lines in one of out technology in the classroom classes. It seems like you really took that to the next level. There is definitely an advantage to networking, and something that should be looked into by everyone.


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