"I feel so stuck. Nobody seems to get my ideas or feel my passion for teaching."
If you are like me I am sure you have said this at least five times a day. What is a lone nut to do? I was surrounded by others who were great teachers, but didn't want to change. I was stuck. That was until I found the magic of a PLN (Professional Learning Network) and since then I haven't had to utter those words anymore. I finally feel accepted, understood, and supported by amazing educators.
How can you do it you ask? Easy. Here are the ways that I built my PLN, just take the first step and you will never want to go back!
1. Twitter: Sure, some merely think of Twitter as a website used for those who want to stalk their favorite celebrities' every selfie and food habits, but the site has take a new turn for educators. Using Twitter in an educational setting for the past year has been my best asset. Whenever I have a question, need help with a lesson plan, or need to find the coolest thing to do in my class, Twitter is where I turn.
Once you are on the site, go find some of the educators you look up to (and tweet to them), find companies you use in your school (tweet to them as well), and join an "edchat". There are "edchats" for just about everything in education ranging from state-specific discussions (Like #NVedchat for Nevada educators) to edtech (#edtechchat) and grade-specific. There is bound to be a chat that you can join and learn from.
The golden rule with Twitter is you don't have to follow everyone, only follow those who will help you become a better educator.
Sign up right this second (Seriously, stop reading and go sign up).Don't know where to start? Tweet to me @MsGeekyTeach and I will help you out.
2. Meetups: Meetups are a great way to connect in real life with friends from Twitter, emails, and more. Meetups can be anything from a small meetup like BrewCUE, CoffeeCUE, or EdCamp, to a large conference like ISTE, NCTM or the annual CUE Conference.
Some are free, while some you have to pay for, but I'll tell you this--it’s well worth your money and time if you get to connect with other educators, especially those you otherwise would have never come across.
3. Voxer: Voxer is, simply-put a walkie-talkie application. Why not just text or call, you ask? Well, Voxer allows you to ensure that your question or comment gets the love it deserves. With the Voxer app, you can send text messages, photos, and instant voice messages to individuals and groups.
My PLN, I use this with many other educators to throw an idea around or to get feedback on a failing lesson plan. Since my message is there for them to listen to when they get the chance, I don't have to worry about my message being forgotten about. This also ensures that I will get a thoughtful response once my PLN members get the time to respond.
4. Point: How about sustaining your PLN by sharing articles? Point is a newly discovered favorite Chrome extension of mine. You can share articles with friends, highlight parts of the article that you find interesting, and with the extension you can easily retrieve your favorite reads.
This has changed the way that I read articles, but it's even better for my PLN: I can now share the coolest new edtech findings with all of my edtech friends with one, simple extension. It's like sitting next to another person and chatting about the latest newspaper article!
These are just some of the ways that I stay connected to my PLN. I challenge you to check out new ways to connect, and if you find one, let me know in the comments section below!
NOTE: This article is part of EdSurge's Fifty States Initiative (representing the state of Nevada). Interested in representing edtech in your state? Apply here.
It's over. How is it over already? In a flash it is gone.
"You should really plan an Edcamp for Las Vegas" or something along those lines is what got me started. I was hesitant but promised I would have lots of support. Flash forward to yesterday, August 2nd, 2014 and who knew it would all come together?
I woke up at 5 am after not being able to sleep for the past three nights, butterflies and a slight feeling of nausea decided to join the party. I loaded up the car and was only having a slight freakout as I pulled into SWCTA.
I was surprised to see so many volunteers there at 7 in the morning. We unloaded and started setting up right away. Craig and David started on the session board while everyone else did things from opening up rooms, hanging signs, setting up food and even starting to register people who showed up at 7:30.
The event got rockin' and rollin' really quick, folks were talking, brainstorming ideas, checking out Twitter, and of course jumping on that free coffee and bagels. As the session board was made, I tried to get the 200+ attendees excited for this new experience. Once we went over the basics I let em' loose.
As session 1 and 2 were going on, I was interacting in the sessions, loving the ideas, hearing great discussions from tech in the class to Genius Hour. It was a lot of fun! During session 3, Craig and I decided to do a Things That Suck session and it was awesome! We talked about Las Vegas Buffet (Great idea Craig!), Frozen, School Uniforms, Unfiltered Wifi, and so much more.
Finally it all came to an end once everyone was back in the ballroom. We did a raffle with amazing prizes from our sponsors, announced that Nevada FINALLY has and EdChat (@NevadaEdChat), and my good friend Devin told everyone they needed to take a selfie with me. All in all it was a whirlwind of a day. I got the feeling that you get when your student has an "Ah-ha" moment and your heart swells, tears of joy come to your eyes, and you see your labor of love transform into a reality. This is by far the most stressful, exciting, invigorating, and amazing thing I thought I could never do. Thank you so much to those of you who helped out and those of you who attended. I hope that if you didn't go that next year you will be sure to join us!
Check out the pictures below!
Sara Boucher is a Robotics and Computer Programming Teacher in Los Lunas, NM who is developing her own set of super geeks.