There has been so much change going on in my professional life this school year. When I was asked to do the Powerful Learning Practice, I was definitely interested, a little nervous, but definitely interested. I love professional development, I always have. I love the way professional development can recharge your batteries. When Sheryl Nussbaum- Beach and Will Richardson (the creators/owners of PLP) met with our group, they told us to be learners and not worry about changing a thing yet in our classrooms. How freeing that was! I was truly able to just read blogs and lurk (although not for long) on Twitter and enjoy this new world of technology and community. At first, it felt as though I was on a roller coaster ride passing by hundreds of technology choices. At first, Twitter felt like the party I was always late arriving to and how was I ever going to keep up?! At first, I didn’t understand what being part of a real community was and that you cannot just be a taker but you also need to be a giver. Being a learner, I realized of course, also requires being a risk taker and wasn’t that what I wanted from my students? What I realized was that I could get off of the roller coaster ride and choose a couple of the technology tools I saw along the way and try the ones that would help me be a better teacher and of course, my students be better learners. And when I was ready, I could incorporate something else I had learned along the way.
However, the most valuable thing I am learning now is the power of being connected and having a personal learning network. I almost hate to say it because it’s such a buzz word right now but it’s so true, plns are invaluable really. Having a community of professionals that I can reach out to has absolutely been the most valuable thing I have learned. It has helped me to remember that I need to be empathetic in this process of shift, that I am not alone and I really do not need to know everything. I have many people who can help me along the way. At first I was frustrated with the lack of movement or enthusiasm from my colleagues for all of the new stuff I was learning. Now, I am sharing the importance and value of creating a personal learning network with one colleague at a time. One at a time, I am sharing with teachers how to use Twitter, what is Symbaloo, what is Quadbogging, how did I Mystery Skype, how do I know this person or that person. It’s amazing and I truly feel like a personal learning network evangelist, as corny as that sounds, but it has been really rewarding. It’s not happening at the rate I would like but maybe this is how it’s got to be, slowly but surely, teachers at my school are opening up. Time is always a complaint and I totally get it, but you do make time for what is valuable, it’s very true. I am excited and anxious about what must be next in my journey of shift, but I am still looking forward to it!