Wow, September is almost over? In my 10 years as a school leader-this year, this month by far has gone the fastest. A new position, new grade levels, new challenges and new opportunities have allowed me to really reflect on how I can use my PLN in a new way to help me sustain the positive culture and community we have been creating.
September is also my ‘connected’ anniversary. Three years ago I was facing some difficult challenges on the job….like applying to Starbucks as a barista challenges. I felt alone, frustrated, and isolated. During a 4 hour drive to Milwaukee I decided to try to listen to a podcast-that podcast connected me to Adam Welcome, Voxer and the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Three years later I have never felt more engaged, inspired and excited about being an educator. I look forward to twitter chats, voxer conversations and reading blogs from so many other educators out in the world doing this important work.
During the MESPA Leadership Retreat I was able to share this story and a few tips to connect.
Find a Platform.
What works for you? Today you have a few platforms to choose from-below are just a few:
- Facebook-groups have archived pictures, activities and you can connect with a personal account.
- Twitter-resources categorized by hashtags, ways to ‘see’ other peoples blogs, pictures and stories. Twitter chats are ways to engage in conversations arounds specific topics organized by hashtags.
- Voxer- communities of educators connect around problems, stories and brainstorming ways to improve our practices.
- Instagram-great ways to see other schools and students in action.
- Pinterest-you can create folders to archive articles, activities and other resources.
- Podcasts-these can run from 5 minutes-90. Topics vary and so many have such great guest speakers-it is like attending your favorite conference….for free!
Find a Tribe.
Once you pick a platform, find a tribe. This can be following one or two people whose content aligns with your own practice.
- Facebook has some incredible groups for school leaders-from staying motivated, appreciating staff (thank you Amber Teamann and Melinda Miller, to an amazing group facilitated by the Ken Williams-the connections and ideas will keep me motivated for years.
- Twitter-following the same advice-find a ‘friend’ (AKA follower) and start leading by lurking or watching what is going on.
- Voxer- find someone who is using it and ask to join in a group. Facebook and Twitter posts will also lead you to groups that might be interesting to you. But just like edcamps-you can lead with you ‘feet’. If a group isn’t for you, don’t feel bad if you leave.
Commit to Trying.
Trust me….you can’t break this (I have tried). Yes my posts have had spelling errors, yes I have tagged the wrong people before or responded to the wrong Voxer group-but the learning is in the mistakes and the abilities to take risks.
A great resource for beginners (and even for a refresher for me) was What Connected Educators do Differently
So here is the challenge:
- During week 1 follow 1 person and take note of what they are posting
- Week 2 post something every weekday, and
- Jump into (3) conversations on week three.
If you are not hooked by then-talk to me (via Twitter, Instagram, Voxer…..and now a little SnapChat).
Good luck learning, and have fun along the way!
Dream Big, Live Colorfully and Lead Boldly,