Growing up, I spent a lot of time singing the People in Your Neighborhood song with my Sesame Street friends. I learned that there were many skilled, helpful people I could rely on in my community if I ever needed assistance. As a child, I considered my neighborhood to be the area immediately surrounding my home and street, but over the years, as I’ve grown up and lived in different places, my concept of a neighborhood has grown. I’ve learned that I have a world neighborhood which is also full of skilled, helpful people, and thanks to the web, I can reach out to them whenever I need help or a little inspiration, whether personally or professionally.
Who are the People in my Professional Learning Neighborhood/Network?
When I first began Coetail, I wrote a post explaining that I was very much an introverted internet Consumer, but that I was beginning to value the idea of becoming a Prosumer as well. Now, about a year and a half later, I confess that I am still an online introvert, but I can at least say that I’ve made some progress.
This year, I really wanted to help my students make some global connections by participating in the Global Read Aloud. I signed up for an Edmodo account and looked for other teachers who might be willing to collaborate. I made a number of connections there, but here is an example of a typical interaction. This initial introduction led to additional discussion via email about how we wanted to get our students connected.
Thanks to this and other connections that started on Edmodo, my library students had the opportunity to hear from other students around the world on our Global Read Aloud Padlets. For example, our BFG: Judging by Appearances Padlet received comments from GRA partners in New Jersey, Italy, and Canada. My students were excited to see what others had shared with us. While other plans with my GRA partners fizzled out a bit (teachers get busy, after all), it was great to see that at least our Padlets kept us connected. I’m glad that I overcame my inner introvert and reached out to the neighborhood on Edmodo!
I am still mostly a Twitter introvert, but I am gradually becoming a more active Twitter user. I regularly browse for ideas and inspiration, and I often retweet posts from others. I occasionally post my own tweets, such as books I’ve read, quotes I like, etc. I have also begun to participate in a few Twitter chats.
I recently added a few thoughts to a #Seesaw chat on Twitter, but I was late to the party, so I didn’t add too much. I just discovered #Seesawchat a few days ago, and I look forward to participating more actively in the next one, as I love using Seesaw in the Learning Commons.
I have very much appreciated all the interaction with fellow Coetail bloggers over the course of the program, both within and outside of my school. The insights I’ve gained have been invaluable, and I will absolutely continue to draw upon the expertise of all the fantastic educators I’ve become connected with through the program. For example, I recently came across Ben Sheridan’s post about Seesaw, which I found very helpful.
I appreciated Ben’s effort to connect me to his school librarian, Philip. I have since followed him on Twitter, and I just sent him a tweet to see if we can get connected.
Beyond Coetail blogs, I do follow blogs of other librarians, from whom I get a lot of inspiration and ideas. I don’t usually comment on their blogs though, and I realize I should take the time to do that more often, if only to thank them for sharing things that I find helpful.
I confess that I have often been more of a “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” type of person. I like people and try to be a good neighbor, but I also value my privacy and like to stay under the radar. The same is still somewhat true of my interactions with my online PLN. I haven’t always felt like it’s all that necessary for me to force conversations and interactions just for the sake of interacting. I browse, I like, I share, I retweet, and occasionally I post and comment. I find great ideas on Pinterest, Twitter, blogs, and websites. Honestly, I think that’s okay most of the time. If I ever feel that I have something to share that others might find valuable, then I am happy to share it, and I have done so. But I also recognize that I often hold back from sharing because I fear that I am not offering anything new, useful, or ground-breaking to the discussion. This is something I still need to overcome, but I appreciate the progress I’ve made. I do want to be the kind of neighbor who contributes, and I want others to feel comfortable knocking on my door if they need assistance.
While I still have a long way to go in becoming truly active in my Professional Learning Neighborhood, I am becoming increasingly more comfortable in introducing myself and starting conversations. Thanks to Coetail, I have really come to recognize the value of a PLN, and I have made meaningful connections that have helped me to progress professionally and personally.