"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.
I have never been one to stay super organized and that includes my multiple inboxes. That is...until I stumbled upon Unroll.me. This website is amazing and will change your inbox forever.
Every time you go to just about any retail store they always ask for your e-mail address. Don't you love getting those great coupons especially when you really need them? What about when you get them every single week? Maybe you are too busy to unsubscribe or maybe you are like me who suffers from fomo on those great deals when I really need them. Well, unroll.me has answered your inbox prayers.
When you sign up for unroll.me, you can not only save those fabulous deals but you can even unsubscribe from those annoying e-mails you get day after day. When you first sign up you simply put in your e-mail and it gives you the list of all websites you are subscribed to. From here, you can decide to do the following: Add to Rollup, Unsubscribe, or Keep in Inbox. Then once a day like magic, all of the items you decided to add to your rollup appear in one beautiful e-mail. I can now take a quick look at all of my steals and deals instead of archiving them like I normally do.
Ever had a crazy ex, junk mailing grandma, or just wanted to block someone? Unroll.me also allows you to block specific contacts that are driving you nuts. The insanity is gone!
Now what happens if you delete your rollup in your e-mail you ask? Unroll.me has your back and you can go into the archives to find the missing e-mail. You can also go and find a previously unsubscribed website and resubscribe to your desire. Also, you can decide do you want your rollup morning, afternoon, or evening as well as a grid form or list form.
I have used this will all of my e-mail accounts and will never go back to the old way of getting my inbox cleared out. I get to keep all of my favorite subscriptions and sanity as well, what more could I ask for?
Have questions about Unroll.me? Feel free to comment below and I will be happy to assist. You can also check them out on Twitter and Facebook as well.
Happy Rolling Up!
Ahh my PLN, my Professional Learning Network. How near and dear I hold you to my heart. My PLN is my support team and has grown immensely over the past few months.
I have always been interested and up to date with the latest technology (so I thought). I had a Myspace page, Blogger, G-mail, Hotmail, Twitter, Facebook, and so many other accounts I thought I was in the know of things. When I started teaching I was using Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers. I would go to Professional Developments and write down the coolest new thing and think about how to use it in my class. I would read about 40 app in 40 minutes and suck up everything I could. I would also reach out to other teachers and see what they use. I thought I was doing a great job and was awesome.
Then, thanks to my friend Jon (@ipadsammy), I soon learned that I was indeed not as nearly as advanced as I thought I was. I had a regular Twitter account and Jon urged me to get one for educational uses. I quickly obliged and am glad that I did. A few months past and I still felt great at learning more about technology. The big change came when he added me to an amazing group on Voxer. I had used Voxer but never in this way. Since then, life hasn't been the same (so corny but so true).
I have this support system to learn from including @ipadsammy, @tedrosececi, @MsVictoriaOlson, @LS_Karl, @classroom_tech, @MrMacnology, @WhoIsGoldberg, and so many more amazing people. Whenever I have a question, concern, a bad day, or even something I am really excited about they listen (most of the time). Everyday I look forward to hearing their great ideas and conversations about education to Oreos. I feel so lucky to be part of a great learning network. Without know it, they are pushing me to be a better teacher everyday. I am trying things I would have shrugged off last year, I am not afraid to ask questions (no matter how silly), and I feel accepted. Without my PLN I would be in the dark ages still. I know it is past Valentine's Day my dear friends but I hope you accept my late love letter. You guys seriously rock my socks and everyday I am so thankful to have you guys to lean on. Thank you for being my biggest support system. I love you guys.
Who is in your PLN? What is your favorite part of having a PLN online and offline?
Happy Sunday and Belated Valentine's Day.
All my love,
I was recently looking through some old files on my computer and stumbled upon my teaching philosophy from September of 2011. I instantly had to click onto it to see what I had written. Did I have the same philosophy? Did I feel completely different from just a few years ago? I HAD to know... so I clicked and learned quite a bit about my former and present self.
First off, I found out that I was soooo cheesy! "We need education like we need air; and allowing it to be free and plentiful is one of the greatest gifts that our students can take advantage of," if that isn't cheesy I don't know what is.
Secondly, my philosophy of education hasn't changed though my view of education has. I still enjoy the classroom and think that it needs to be about the kids. Little did I know in 2011 that education wasn't all it is cracked up to be. I wanted to use the latest and greatest strategy, be the best at grouping my students, and teach the important things.
While I do those things and so much more (as all teachers do) I didn't realize just how draining and exciting it would be. I wish that I could go back though and tell my 2011 self that it isn't as easy as I thought since I thought student teaching was a breeze, no worries or cares here ladies and gentlemen. Just an ordinary student teacher who thought she was all that HA!. Teaching has been one of the toughest things I have ever done. It could be from bouncing from grade level to grade level or for being a scatterbrain. Whatever the reason is, I don't care since it has all been worth it in the end.
One thing hasn't changed though and I hope never will. My former, eager, and overenthusiastic self said "In the end, it has always been about the students and it will always be about the students. From the moment I start until I retire I promise myself it will always be about them. "
Have you ever been so excited to do something with your students that you just jump in? And after you jump in, the kids have fun but what you thought would happen didn't and the product you get is a failure? Yeah.....that is what happened when I jumped into blogging with my students. So here is my tale of how I messed up and how I am fixing it.
Over winter break I was so excited to blog with my students. I couldn't WAIT for school to come around and so the first week back from break I told them we would be blogging the next week. They were excited, I was way more excited then they were and so we jumped in. I used Kidblog and signed up all of my kids, sent home a letter with information about Kidblog and how we would be using it in our classroom.
My students were working on silly animals stories and I was silly enough to not go over the rules and procedures of blogging. I let them loose and they started typing away not really knowing why we were blogging, they just knew that we were going to share our stories with family, friends, and other people online. I didn't go over procedures for how to leave good comments, or that whatever you put online is stuck online. The kids had fun though but the product was not up to my expectations.
So what do you do when you mess up and feel like the worst teacher in the world? I decided to start again and ask my PLN (Professional Learning Network). Man oh man did I find some great things from fellow class blogger Victoria who did a GHO (Google Hangout) with me and broke down how she successfully blogs in her class. She referred me to Pernille Ripp and her fantastic tips on blogging. After all the talking and reading I knew I was ready to start again.
Next week, my class and I will be using paper blogs to start our journey, we have been going over internet safety rules and how to be safe online from Common Sense Media. I felt so disappointed that I rushed in, but my kids are excited to blog again. Sometimes you have to mess up to figure out how to become a better person (or teacher).
Hope you have a great school week this week!
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter if you have ever done a lesson that was a flop and if so, how did you fix it?
Sara Boucher is a Robotics and Computer Programming Teacher in Los Lunas, NM who is developing her own set of super geeks.