5 Ways to Boost Your Personal Learning Network

Fostering a Strong Educator #PLN

Perhaps more than any other profession, a successful, fulfilling career in education requires a strong personal learning network. With the constantly changing educational landscape, introduction of new technology, and widely varying student needs, having a group of trusted peers to grow alongside is so important. But maintaining that personal learning network can be challenging, especially if you feel isolated in your role or community.

Since PLNs are so important in educational spaces, educators have become experts at the art of purposefully and openly networking. Social media, conferences, virtual spaces, and cross-community practices all lend themselves well to empowering opportunities to boost your circle of inspiring peers. Here are some of our favorite ways to boost your personal learning network, no matter your role, location, or passions:

Join a Twitter Chat

Educators really know how to leverage Twitter to make an impact in the classroom. Twitter is an excellent platform to connect with peers that you otherwise may have never met, and hashtags, chats, and influencers make it easy to find your network. Educators have organized designated chats for a variety of different topics, roles, or disciplines, and many are recurring, so you can jump in on a regular basis. We host monthly Twitter chats from our handle, @McGrawHillK12. Last month’s chat, #StudentsTeachMe, celebrated how educators can find empowerment from their students, and April’s chat will be held on April 20 at 8 PM EST, focusing on positive math mindsets. Just use #ChatMHE to join in and immediately get connected with like-minded peers.

Connect with Future Ready Schools

Twitter chats are a great way to discover new strategies, approaches, and tools to use in your daily work. For a long-term source of discovery and transformation, check out Future Ready Schools, an organization that helps districts make the transition to digital in a purposeful way. Future Ready Schools invites your superintendant to sign their pledge to dedicate your district to become Future Ready, so it can function as a source for your school leaders to connect with other leaders on a large scale. You can also engage with the organization by checking out their Facebook groups, organized by role. District Leaders, Librarians, Principals, and Instructional Coaches all have private groups dedicated to supporting each other in implementing the Future Ready framework. See this blog for more on our partnership with Future Ready Schools, and how you can get involved.

Become a Megaphone for Your School

Expanding your personal learning network should always account for connecting with educators outside of your immediate community — gaining those dynamic perspectives will refresh your work. However, don’t overlook the connections and relationships within your own school walls. It can be easy to miss some of the amazing things teachers are doing in classrooms just next door. To foster those relationships, you can take on a leadership position by working to elevate and socialize the accomplishments of educators within your community to the rest of your school. Fostering relationships between peers will help you learn from the educators in your building while also building a network of support. You can also turn that conversation outward by elevating the amazing stories happening in your school in a way that reaches parents, community members, and other school districts.

Write or Read a Ed Blog

Diving into the blogging scene — whether by reading other writer’s work or publishing your own — is a great way to boost your personal learning network. Blogging is less conversational than Twitter, in that it promotes fewer responses or back-and-forth between writers and readers. However, it allows for a deeper dive into the message you’re trying to convey or receive, and when combined with a platform like Twitter, where you can find, share, and res-hare blogs, it can be a truly effective way to establish meaningful relationships with other educators. To get started on your blogging journey, check out The Art of Teaching Project, and start exploring avenues to share your best ideas.

Attend an Education Event (Preferably: ISTE!)

The last — and potentially most exciting — way to boost your personal learning network is to attend an education conference. There are so many events, across the country and throughout the year, that it might be difficult to pick. This list from Getting Smart provides an overview of the best events in 2018. While every educator will be looking for something different in their networking mission, we recommend ISTE for expanding your PLN. The International Society for Technology in Education hosts a yearly event dedicated to promoting, sharing, and learning innovative ways to use technology in the classroom, and the exciting energy at the event is always contagious.

If you’re looking for a way to get to ISTE, check out our Great Create Art Contest, which asks educators to submit an original piece of artwork for a chance to win a trip to ISTE 2018 in Chicago. Learn more here:

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