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PLN, Professional Learning Network. Sounds techy and 21st century, doesn’t it? Sounds like one more thing to add to the ever-growing list of responsibilities thrown at teachers.  I get that, but I’ve also realized that carving out even 15 minutes a day to check in with those in my PLN has a huge impact on what I accomplish with students.  I can hear some of my teacher friends now saying, “15 minutes? You’ve got to be kidding me! I only get 30 minutes of planning time some days, and I can’t waste 15 minutes of that playing on Twitter or Edmodo, or whatever else you’re suggesting.”

But let me give you an example of what I accomplished accessing my PLN last week:

For me, the beauty of a PLN is I get to choose who is in it. It allows me to tap into so many resources that would not be available otherwise, and it’s free!  If I have a question about gifted education, I can tweet using the hashtag #gtchat, and within minutes I have responses from teachers, parents, and other GT experts. I can do the same with #edchat, #edreform, #sschat, or dozens of other education hashtags. I love that I can ask a question about a resource, an article, a pedagogy and get answers from all over the world. Because I follow people in all areas of education, one question can generate multiple perspectives, and at least one response will make me go, “hmm”.

But the best part? When I find things, I share it. I can retweet it, tweet it at specific people, post it on facebook, bookmark it and share it through www.bagtheweb.com or www.diigo.com, or I can add it to my wiki. Never before have I felt so in control of my own professional development.

So, the next time a co-worker, library/media specialist, or administrator talks about creating a PLN, instead of assuming you don’t have time, give it a try.  To help you get started, I’ll share one last thing, this great list of 1,133 educational leaders to kick start your twitter feed. http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2012/07/1133-educational-leaders-to-kickstart-your-twitter-feed.html