Educational Communities: Discover your PLN

  • Middle School
Swan Eaton

I have been teaching for 104 days, 2 hours, 13 minutes and….well, as you can see, I’m a newbie.  

However, for the last two years, I did all I could to expand my knowledge of teaching beyond textbooks. I wanted to hear from actual teachers what worked best. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel in any way.  Living in a rural setting I worried my location was a great disadvantage. I thought professional development classes and meeting others in the teaching profession were beyond my reach.  

Like anything in my life, I did what many do.  I Googled, Insta’d, Tweeted and searched any other possible social/internet portals at my fingertips.  My goal was to find digital education communities discussing anything having to do with teaching to compensate for my lack of local resources.  I discovered that these communities are referred to as one’s PLN, short for Professional Learning Network. To my surprise, there are tons of established education communities that provide an abundance of information and can form an educator’s PLN.  

ACHIEVE THE CORE

Collaborating with a PLN can assist in many ways.

 

In the vast world of the internet and beyond, I found Achieve the Core.  According to their Twitter page, it has 29,000 followers and over 15,000 likes.  I investigated the likes and comments to gain an understanding of the site’s value and was blown away!  One user states, “@achievethecore on Twitter? Lots of great resources come from this organization. Consider following them if you don't already!”  I couldn’t agree more! At this one location, I am able to connect with many other teachers who have questions concerning common core state standards.  

A few examples from the site include articles and informational training on:

The resources are endless.  Since all teachers are crunched for time, I like to read the comments before reading a post to determine the validity of the post.  If educators comment in favor, I determine the post is time-worthy. I am also able to converse by leaving feedback or messaging the teacher that posted. Connecting with these teachers that are miles away via my chosen device at any time of day is invaluable. The site eloquently shares its purpose as to: “Find, steal, and share free tools and resources aligned to college-and-career-ready standards.”

EDUTOPIA

was extremely skeptical of this educational community.  I know I will get blasted by this comment, but George Lucas, the Star Wars guy? What could he possibly have to say about education? Movies maybe, but not education. However, on Instagram alone, the site has over 115,000 followers and over one million followers on Twitter.  Edutopia is so diverse that you can also follow the site on Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube. Edutopia has been documenting great teaching and having in-depth conversations with educators for the last 25 years.

According to the site’s mission statement, the foundation is dedicated to transforming K-12 education so that all students can acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to thrive in their studies, careers, and adult lives. The website allows you to filter the content by grade level and subcategories. The vast bank of articles come in text and video format.  I love this second option! During my prep, I select one of the videos to play as I get ready for the next day while expanding my mind on educational techniques. Above all, Edutopia encourages educators’ input. How could I not follow this community? I even signed up to receive weekly email notifications on recently added articles and look forward to each delivery.

WE ARE TEACHERS

My third favorite site to follow is We Are Teachers.  This organization can be found on all social media platforms including Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.  This site is a bountiful resource for free printables, career advice, life, and well-being, all in a fun and easy-to-read format. I think their life and well-being section is particularly awe-inspiring.  I found articles like, “10 Time Management Secrets from Teachers Who Are Living Their Best Lives,” and “10 Dollar General Teacher Discounts (and Grants!) You Need Now.” These are just two of the many articles that have helped me become a well-rounded educator and helped me make my classroom budget stretch.

CORElaborateWA

Staying connected and learning from PLNs can happen anywhere.

 

Another site I enjoy reading is CORElaborateWA. It is the PLN I first found in my search of educational enlightenment.  CORElaborateWA can be found on Twitter and Facebook. The site's focus is to amplify teacher voices in Washington state. It is awesome to find a connection with teachers that live in a similar demographic.  I found helpful articles like, “How to Win the Reticent-Reader Battle: Follow the Process,” and “The Benefits of Co-Planning and Co-Teaching for Diverse and ELL Students.” CORElaborateWA also hosts monthly Twitter chats using the #WATeachLead hashtag the second Sunday of every month at 7 p.m. PST.

Digital education communities are like the “golden ticket” for any teacher.  I can’t express how fortunate and enriched I have become by reading articles or listening to webinars made by teachers in my growing PLN.  As a first year teacher, I don’t feel I have the same struggles as other greenhorns who are less prepared because of the tips and tricks from my peers I pick up as I explore these digital resources.  The rabbit hole of education communities on social media platforms has me traveling to the realm of teaching enlightenment.

I learn tons of new things every time I view an online PLN.

 

What PLN or educational communities interest you?  What do you find as helpful or inspiring from these virtual platforms?

  • Communications
  • Teacher Leadership
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The opinions expressed by the CORElaborate Bloggers, guest bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD), Ready Washington or any employee thereof. PSESD is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Washington State Teacher Leader or Guest Bloggers.