Twitter has allowed me to meet many great people throughout the country. The power of being connected has given me the opportunity and ability to grow as an administrator. The people I connect with on Twitter are not only some of the best and brightest educators in our state, but also the country. The real power is when you actually meet members of your PLN in person. Meeting my PLN in person allowed me the opportunity to realize how many great minds that I have access to. With all of these great minds attending various conferences, I began to notice a few trends.
Presenters & Speakers
After witnessing and participating in the FRed Talks at #OETCx and listening to presentations after mine, I was reminded of my younger years when I played golf in high school and college. I remember at the local level of golf, there were players who were good or really good players and I would think they could fair well against other competition outside of our local surroundings. My perspective changed after I had the opportunity to play collegiate golf. At the point that I traveled to my first collegiate tournament to participate (which was Division III), I got a firsthand experience on just how many great golfers there are in the world (and that was only at Division III). They were all over the place! And that was only in Division III! The educators who presented (tech directors, administrators, teachers) could really hold an audience and delivered powerful messages. I was in awe and excited about the wealth of knowledge and passion of the educators I had the great fortune of listening to.
Its the same thing with speakers & presenters in education in general. There are many great educational presenters & speakers all over our country. It is refreshing to be able to listen to people who are so passionate about what they do. This passion that they exude always translates over to helping kids. Many presenters enlighten their audience on methods and styles that help them in their buildings. This in turns helps the educators in the audience. But that's why we attend conferences isn't it? To gather new means & methods to help our students right? Listening to presenters and members of my PLN speak about technology, learning spaces, and learning ignited my passion in education and my desire to help people. That's what I want to take away from conferences.
Advice & Assistance
The amount of advice & feedback you get from meeting members of your PLN is unbelievable. Whether it is a state conference or national conference, the conversations are priceless. Getting advice from the best in the business from community relations to tools to use in meetings & in the classroom makes your PLN that much more of a powerful learning resource. I think Twitter should be given a lot of credit in this regard. Twitter is the ice breaker for these types of conversations. Start with 140 characters and get to know people in your field, then when you get the chance to connect with your PLN, you build off of the 140 characters to get valuable professional development.
Outside the Classroom/Building
Getting a chance to meet with people outside of their professional setting is rewarding for a few reasons. You get to see how genuine your PLN is. Conversations drift away from education over the course of a conference. This enables you to see the human side of your PLN and how much you have in common with them. Interestingly enough, I have a lot in common with my PLN outside areas of education. I don't think that's a coincidence. Education is a field where the key component of helping people is something we do all day long, not just from 7:30-2:30 pm.
It is still amazing to me and other members of my PLN on the number of educators who are still not connected. I think it is so surprising to many of us because of how easy it really is to build relationships with people from all over the world who have the same interests. Not only will you grow as an educator, you grow as a person. Your Tweet Peeps are the ones who will help you grow and continue to build your PLN. What are you waiting for?