Why developing a PLN (Professional Learning Network) should be a priority for principals

Recently I have decided to “up” my contribution on Twitter.

When I first started on Twitter a couple of years back, my objective was to learn as much as I could, during the few moments that I could spare. Between the many tasks a school administrator has, I would try to take a moment and read a few interesting tweets: between classroom visits, walking down the hallway, while eating a quick snack, after a conversation with a student, or before a parent council meeting. At home, it would be between my kids hockey games, while I was preparing dinner, helping with homework, or putting the last load of laundry in the dryer. In other words, it was not easy, and I certainly was not consistent. However, I persisted, and today I am glad I did. Eventually, reading tweets became imbedded in my daily routine, and I even found myself commenting on a few of them! I was learning some great tricks from other administrators. This, for me, was some great professional development. It was invigorating!

The more I read on Twitter, the more I had the feeling that I wanted to contribute to this awesome professional learning network. How would I do this? How would I find the time to do it? It turns out that it was a lot easier than I expected, and I assure you that if I as a principal can do it, so can you!

Upon reading a tweet from a person I was following, I noticed that it was in the form of an answer, followed by a hashtag and a keyword (Click here to find out more). I decided to investigate this keyword and clicked it. Wow! I soon realized that I was looking at a live professional discussion pertaining to a specific topic (the keyword after the hashtag). I started reading some of the answers and decided to join in.  It was great! I had immediate feedback, and found myself having 5 new followers, all in the education field. Best of all, it had taken about 20 minutes to do this. What a great investment of my time! I just had to try it again! That night, I sat down in the living room with my wife (kids tucked away in bed), iPad mini in hand and found a great discussion topic within the people I was following. I jumped in, read some answers, posted some of my own, and interacted with some great people. All while talking with my wife, and watching a little tv. I realized that this is exactly the type of professional learning I needed, at my pace and at a time of my choosing. If I missed anything, I could come back an read all the tweets at a later time. Best of all, I found out that some of these discussion forums were scheduled at the same time every week.

I soon found myself sharing what I was doing with my colleagues, and I hope to be able to share with as many people as possible. My PLN has since grown, and I have discovered a rich resource of knowledge and ideas that have a direct impact on my day to day work, and I feel energized and connected.

If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend you try this. If you need any help whatsoever, you can find me on Twitter, my username is @jprofnb

If I can do it, so can you. I’m even blogging now!

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