Growing my PLN – Part 2

Image by moni quayle from Pixabay 

In my previous blog post, I discussed my reasons and motivations for beginning my Personal Learning Network (PLN) journey.  One month later, inspired by a creative make task, as part of a Master’s unit in Connected Learning, I am reflecting on what my PLN looks like and how it has grown and evolved.  Through this process, an image of a flower blooming came to mind.  A flower bud slowly starting to unfurl its petals, is symbolic of how I see my PLN slowly starting to develop into something beautiful.

During the last month, my PLN on Twitter has started to bloom with an increased number of followers resulting in greater interactivity on my posted tweets. I have worked hard to become a participatory member of my PLN, through the sharing of useful articles and information mainly focused on my targeted area of interest – the promotion of a reading culture in school. This targeted focus has assisted me in narrowing my focus, in order to filter information and connect with people who have similar learning interests to myself.  My connections with people have also increased through liking, commenting and participating in conversations with my PLN. The image below shows how the visibility of my tweets in the PLN has grown.

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Screenshot of my Twitter Monthly Activity

A critical incident that occurred during this time also assisted with increased interactivity and engagement with my PLN. In early May, I shared a blog post on the promotion of a reading culture which included tips and useful resources for educators. This tweet resulted in the highest engagement level with any of my tweets so far. I was both surprised and delighted to receive likes, retweets and comments on both my tweet and personal blogging. Since then I have also gained new followers and noticed continued interactivity with subsequent tweets. Comments on the blog tweet, regarding the role of the teacher librarian in the promotion of a reading culture in schools has also caused me to further reflect and has sparked ideas for a new blog post.  Suddenly it seemed, the petals of the flower were beginning to open.

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Screenshot of  Blog Tweet –  13.4% engagement rate with 382 impressions and 51 engagements.

Feeling an increased sense of confidence, I have expanded my PLN through establishing an Instagram account. The use of this social media platform has seen a different side of my professional identity emerge. I have used Instagram to further engage in creative and amplifying practices through sharing images and tips from my daily practise as a classroom teacher, as well as new found knowledge from my teacher-librarian studies. I find I am remixing and distributing the information gleaned through Twitter and my own research in a different way to meet the expectations of an Instagram audience. As a result, I am enjoying experiencing how Twitter and Instagram support my PLN and learning needs in both different and complementary ways.

As my PLN begins to bloom, a challenge I am facing is managing my time in order to further develop my PLN, as well as effectively deal with the vast amount of information appearing in my social media feeds. Currently, I identify with the practices of a self-directed sharer in my interactions with my PLN.  I enjoy self-directed learning and sharing my knowledge with my PLN, colleagues and students. However, due to my busy lifestyle as a part-time teacher, Masters student and mother to four sons, I need to become more of a time manager and implement effective strategies to manage the flow of information and the time needed to further develop my PLN. This is something I look forward to exploring in order to see my PLN bloom into the beautiful flower it has the potential to be.

Growing my PLN

Image by ijmaki by Pixabay

As part of my Masters study into Connected learning, I am developing my Professional Learning Network (PLN) in the area of reading promotion within a school.  This area is something I am particularly passionate about and in recent years as a primary school teacher, I have noticed a steep decline in the number of students reading for pleasure.  As an aspiring teacher-library this deeply concerns me and without a resident teacher-librarian on staff in my current school, I wanted to learn more about how to build a culture of reading within my classroom.

I had been an early adopter of social media back in 2007, but had rarely used it for professional purposes and was more of a ‘lurker’ than an active contributor or participant (Jenkins, 2006).  As a deeply private person, the fear of being judged or saying the wrong thing held me back from offering my own opinions or suggestions. What did I have to offer? I was only a classroom teacher after all.  Inspired by this clip, I took the plunge into the world of twitter. It seems there were a lot of teachers out there just like me, who did have a lot to offer.

About a month into developing my PLN on twitter, I am surprised by how inspired I have become following the posts of other educators and professionals (Novak, 2015). It was exciting to see that there are others out there, all over the world, who are interested in the same topics and ideas as me. It can be isolating in a school environment where others do not necessarily share your same excitement or passion for a topic (Casas & Zoul, 2015). I have found connecting professionally with others online, to be a stimulating and energizing experience (Trust, Krutka & Carpenter, 2016). It can be addictive with so many interesting articles to read and interesting ideas to discover.

Slowly building my confidence, I  began to share my thoughts on articles and comment on other people’s tweets. I was delighted and surprised when people liked and commented on my Tweets. I was surprised to find that I had gained 15 followers within the month. A particularly positive moment was when I built up the courage to ask for advice on how to update my classroom library and through my tweet being retweeted, I was given some useful tips and feedback. This then built my confidence enough to start blogging on this website.

Buoyed by initial success, I am now pushing myself to be more of an active participant in order to further develop my PLN. My next steps include setting up an instagram page to share snippets of my daily classroom practise and blogging on a more regular basis.

I look forward to seeing where my PLN adventure takes me next!