February 6

Pros and Cons of Professional Learning Networks (PLNs)

There is so much that educators can learn from other educators: new pedagogies, engaging lesson plans, classroom management strategies, just to name a few. While there is much to learn from the teacher in the classroom next door to ours, there is also a wealth of knowledge that we can gain from interacting with educators in other schools, in other cities, or around the world! Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) allow us to make connections with other educators that help to support and enhance our own learning and professional growth. The best part is that it can be as simple as reading someone’s blog or following someone on Twitter!

I began the process of creating my PLN using Twitter as the platform when I first applied for my Bachelor of Education. I started following various teachers in my area and over time it grew to educators around the world. Throughout my B. Ed. and eventually my career, I continued to post resources, reflections, assignments, and my thoughts on education. Selfishly, it was a great way to bank my own ideas so that I could refer back them to later, whether it was to use again for future class or to reference in an interview. Twitter was also a stress-free platform to use, as it is easy to log into Twitter and scroll for 5 mins or less a day and receive a wealth of information (ideas for teaching, a new theory to ponder, etc.).

Image Source: Twitter – @spencerburton

There are many positives to creating a Professional Learning Networks (PLNs). PLNs provide access to resources and ideas shared by a diverse group of educators. When I log onto Twitter, I can see various lesson ideas within a matter of seconds, without having to search for something specific. I’ve also been able to communicate and collaborate with various educators by replying to tweets or joining in on a Twitter chat. Participating in a PLN has also helped me to stay current in my teaching practice and philosophies. Interestingly enough, I also know that it has helped me to advance in my career. I once had a principal say to me at the beginning of an interview, “I follow you on Twitter, so I feel like I already know you and what type of teacher you are.”

Image Source: TeachThought via Sylvia Duckworth

There may be some downsides to participating in a PLNs. Participating in anything takes time, so while it may be easy to scroll through some tweets, some people may want to use their personal time for something other than education-related social media. PLNs can also create a space for you to negatively compare yourself to others. There are so many educators doing amazing things and posting them online, which may cause you to feel as though you are not good enough. It is important to remember that you should always be in a good head space before scrolling through any social media in order to view other’s work as inspiration, rather than comparison. As with any social media platform, Twitter can sometimes get negative… However, you create your own PLN and therefore have the ability to unfollow anyone that doesn’t meet your required level of positivity! 

Regardless of what platform you choose to create your Professional Learning Network on, remember your “why” for your PLN: to learn from and engage with others, not to compare yourself or engage in negativity.

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Posted February 6, 2023 by Spencer in category "Personal

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