The Magic of a Professional Learning Network- 3/16/2021

The past few days were full of some awesome moments. I enjoyed presenting my two sessions at the WoCo Tech Summit, went to two other great sessions and made some new connections on Saturday. Sunday, I made a lot of progress editing my book in the morning and then participated in three great sessions with member of my PLN. Finally last night, I participated in the first Code Breaker Educators' Lounge. So many wonderful connections!

It was during more than one of these sessions that we discussed how hard it is to be vulnerable in our own places of work. I know that we are not alone in this sentiment. Fear of judgment is a powerful deterrent. Yet, through the magic of Twitter, many of us have formed deep connections with others who share similar interests and passions. We might never have met face to face, yet we inexplicably feel connected to each other.

As I have been sharing, I am in the midst of taking Lindsay Titus' "Ignite Your Legacy" course and one thing we have discussed is the the quote she shares from Steve Jobs about the power of connecting the dots backwards. You can't connect them forwards, because you don't know what will happen next. But, you can look at where you are and see the ripple effects of your past actions. Even meeting Lindsay and taking this course is an example of connecting the dots. I met Lindsay through the Teach Better team. We are both Teach Better ambassadors and have been since the first cohort was announced.

But our connection truly grew as a result of a podcast episode that Bobbie French did on selecting a one word for 2021. After listening to this podcast, I blogged about and tagged Bobbie. I had connected with Bobbie through the Teach Better team as well. As a result of that, I took Lindsay's One Word Workshop. Now, I connect with both of these amazing educators weekly through the Teach Better Administrator Mastermind. They are two of many educators that I connect with each Tuesday. I love that connection time. If I miss the morning session, I go to the night one.

Communities like the Teach Better Administrator Mastermind have dramatically changed my life. Last week, I was on The BigED idea podcast with Ryan Scott. The two of us connected through this community as well. If you haven't heard the amazing conversation we had, you should definitely check that out. I have never met Ryan or any of the other educators from this group in person, but we are all connected by our passion for education. Connecting the dots backwards, I had known about the Teach Better Mastermind for a while, but it wasn't until I asked if you "had to be" a principal or assistant principal during Teach Better's 12 hour live in December, that I felt like I could join in after Dave Schmittou and others encouraged me. Now, I can't imagine my life without this group.

As I am writing, the word "intention" keeps swirling in my mind. Groups like Ignite Your Legacy, the Teach Better Administrator Mastermind, Teach Better ambassadors, the Educator Lounge and more, they all meet with a clear intention- to support each other as educators to be the best they can be. They are a judgment free zone. No one is getting evaluated in these places. These are places where self reflection is key. But, don't our places of work do the same? Shouldn't they?

If you look at most school mission and vision statements, they focus on the students. Now, don't get me wrong, we should focus on students. But if we as the adults teaching the students feel overwhelmed and exhausted, we aren't going to give our best. Schools, like it or not, are a place of judgment both for our students and ourselves, places where we all get evaluated frequently. Lindsay talks about this as "It takes a whole adult to reach the whole child." So when educators gather and connect with their PLNs, maybe part of the magic is the self care of it all. Kecia McDonald shared last night that in Hawaii they call this practice of sharing stories, "talk story. " Dedicating time to reconnect with our purpose, reflect on our current practice, share stories and connect with other educators helps all of us. Not all educators have this superpower. Some educators are still doing this in isolation, but they don't have to anymore.

This has been a year like no other in so many ways. Take a leap and try seeking connections beyond your school. In my upcoming book, TRANSFORM- Techy Notes to Make Learning Sticky, I talk about the power of these connections, why it's so important to build your PLN. But don't wait for that day to get started, if you haven't connected with others outside your school yet.

  • Join an education Facebook group, I highly recommend the Teach Better Team.

  • Follow a hashtag related to something you teach on Twitter.

  • Join the Code Breaker Educators' Lounge that meets Mondays twice a month at 7 PM EST.

Fill your bucket if you haven't yet and add the magic of a PLN to your world. If you are already connected, share the power of the magic. I am thankful every day for my amazing PLN and if you are reading this, you are already part of mine.

Coming Spring 2021 from Road to Awesome LLC