I have been contemplating my personal learning network (PLN) as of late, and I have shared my off and on dealings with such tools as Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  As an educator, a PLN is vital in gaining new ideas, sharing, seeking support, and maintaining all sorts of human relationships that get one through the days, weeks, and years.  I have never been a good giver over my digital PLN, but living as a taker has helped me to survive.

Sometimes people come along and give you a good shot in the arm when you least expect it, and two gentlemen did just that for me many months ago.  Dale and Jarred were two new teachers, just finishing up their programs of study at university.  Last year was their first year in the classroom, and now they march along in the second.  I had followed these teachers, and visited with them on rare occasion, but I lost them for a bit (my fault).  I backed away from my digital PLN to gain some perspective, that I never quite found, and added them back today.  Hopefully they will take me back.

Chances are good they didn’t know I was gone, and that would be my fault for being a taker.  That’s okay.  I need to take from them, I need their enthusiasm, I need to hear of their struggles and triumphs, and I need to be ready to offer encouragement when I think they need it.  That encouragement makes me a giver.  Support is one of the great benefits of a PLN.  It comes from strangers, those you least expect, but they become familiar:  they become family through one’s PLN.

We come to the end of a calendar year.  This is a time of reflection for many, and a time to set new goals.  I’ve been thinking about goals, been taking stock of the past, and wondering how to navigate the future.  I have been looking for perspective.  I was referring to my PLN via my RSS feeder to find some wisdom, and Dale provided just the perspective I needed in the following video (Dale and Jarred:  Thanks for finding me many months ago even though you didn’t realize I needed to be found!):

You can follow Dale and Jarred on Twitter:  @DaleHolt and @JarredRowe and learn from them at “Not Your Average Teacherhttp://notyouraverageteacher.com/

They truly are not average, they are great!!!

  1. Dale says:

    Thanks for the kind words Neil, though we all go thru the digital fading process from time to time its good to know that you are still out there and doing the great and progressive things that only you can do….this blog looks amazing….time to kick up my RSS…from the first time I happened to meet Neil there was great conversation, its great to be in his tribe!

  2. Jarred says:

    Thank you for the kind words. To be honest with you, our trip out to “greater NE” did a lot to legitimize what we were doing at the time. In fact, I didn’t necessarily believe in myself until after finishing up with you all. The trip back with Dale was incredible. It was a catalyst. You were a catalyst. We preach keeping our learning (failures and our triumphs) visible for others, and this is exactly what you’ve done here. You are admitting something I have felt in my very brief career. I, too, feel like I don’t contribute enough anymore, and Dale and I are trying to find ways to modify our work to align with what we’re doing now.
    Learning comes in waves, and it’s powerful to be aware of when you’re hitting your crests and troughs. You’ve found a way to teach even through an absence.
    I think it’s especially difficult as social media changes and infiltrates our lives to balance work and play…to find and to use something effectively in both a work and a social environment. It can become overwhelming. I am struggling with that as we speak. “Who do I/don’t I add?” “Am I being effective?” “Is this worth it?” “Am I listening more than I am speaking?”
    Thank you for reconnecting. I am more than willing to take.
    I don’t want to steal Dale’s thunder, but as teaching IS a sharing profession….
    A PLN is like a tribe, and you’re always welcome in my tribe.

  3. Jarred says:

    Oh, and thanks for taking time and resources to believe in two people’s ideas that were just entering the profession. It meant the world to me.

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