Since I was a child, I recall my father often telling me, “Success in life is all about who you know.” At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant. It was a vague expression, yet I figured it had something to do with the fact that he was a salesman. Little did I know, his favorite phrase couldn’t have been more accurate, as it didn’t solely relate to sales but rather a much wider-scope of attainable success. That said, as I reflect on the path that has led me to this present moment, any success I’ve had would not have been possible without support from others.
Considering the responsibility of preparing individuals for success in an ever-changing world and unpredictable future, education is a daring career. Since I studied marketing as an undergraduate, only later deciding to follow a career path in teaching, my experience in the classroom had been extremely limited. As many new teachers do, I relied heavily on the support of my colleagues and am greatly appreciative of their willingness to help me. Still, what many of us undervalue is the world of support that lies within our technological devices, including, but not limited to, globally-connected social media platforms, professional organizations and thought-leading bloggers.
Developing a Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN), as Trust defines as a “system of interpersonal connections and resources that support informal learning,” (p. 133) is a crucial feat that allows oneself to become an independent and lifelong learner. My PLN (as seen in the mind map displayed), includes many groups of individuals whom I learn from in a reciprocating manner. Beyond my interactions with colleagues, graduate school classmates and social media connections, I try to immerse myself as often as possible in the flow of content via blogs, journals and other online publications.
I recently began using Feedly, a news aggregator application, and highly recommend it to others as I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful in curating information. Feedly allows users to create categories of feeds and organizes it in an easy-to-navigate manner. Moreover, the mobile app is great for accessing your feed on the go.
One more thing worth checking out is Mozilla’s Web Literacy Wheel. If we are going to teach students how to successfully navigate the digital world, we must lead by example. In turn, the effectiveness of one’s PLN and curated ideas is contingent on how efficiently we can evaluate the information we come across. As is always the concern, not everything suggested is worth reading or implementing. Nevertheless, the more often we explore, the better chance we have of finding those hidden gems.
Trust, T. (2012). Professional learning networks designed for teacher learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(4), 133-138.