Effort In = Reward Out

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user Divergent Learner
In conversations with teachers who are trying to get their administrators “connected,” or with principals newly embarking on the professional learning network journey, these questions always make an appearance: “What is the best way to get started? What tools should I use to connect?”

 

Almost every time, my instinct begs me to respond, I don’t know. The formulation of a network is a personal experience. While one educator finds Diigo to be a fantastic way to compile and share resources, that format might not gel with someone else. The ultimate success of this process is determined by the individual finding tools, techniques, and timelines that work for him.

 

Here’s one harsh reality of “growing” your PLN: There’s a certain level of stick-with-it-ness required. You can’t sit back and let it happen to you. Effort In = Reward Out. I see many teachers and administrators join Twitter at a workshop. They tweet hello, watch the welcome tweets flow in, and then don’t revisit ever again. Why? There was no reward out, because there was no effort in. They didn’t tweet, they didn’t seek out others to follow, they didn’t try to understand the tool and what it offered them. They quickly dismiss it as a waste of their time, of which they have none to spare.

 

In the spirit of sharing, and in an attempt to help others reap the benefits of forming and maintaining a learning network, what follows is an explanation of how I came to be a connected principal and learner. (Also take note of the timeline. This does not happen overnight.)

I joined Twitter. February 2007. For reals, it was that long ago. Tweeted twice at the conference where I created the account. Found it to be an interesting slice of ridiculousness, but not something I would consider imperative to my professional growth. And that was the end of that. I didn’t use it again for two years.

I started a blog. September 2008. My first month as a principal. I intended to document each and every day of my principalship. Nope. I stopped blogging.

I started another blog. November 2009. I’ve always enjoyed writing, filling journal after journal in my youth. The reflective element of blogging appealed to me, so I started The Principal’s Posts, first hosted on Edublogs. I wrote about professional learning communities and other topics we were exploring in my school. From my first post: “I find value in blogging. I believe new principals can find relief, humor, and a sense of community knowing others are experiencing what they are experiencing.”Thus, the why.

#edchat. Fall 2009. I found myself gravitating back to the land of Twitter. I learned about Tweetdeck, but I can’t honestly say I remember how. And then, one Tuesday evening, I experienced my first #edchat. People from all across the globe were having a live, true, engaging conversation about a topic in education. I remember watching the tweets fly by, thinking, “We are talking to each other in 140 characters. This is cool.”

Transparency. Summer 2010. So at this point, I was pretty into the whole blogging/tweeting/sharing/connecting thing. But, I was hesitant to become transparent. I didn’t identify myself by full name or school on my blog. My Twitter profile didn’t provide any of those identifying features either. I was fearful my superintendents or teachers or parents would read my blog and not like what they saw. Then, in June, I attended the a “net gen” conference geared towards administrators. Will Richardon and Jason Ohler were the keynotes. In Will’s breakout session he asked if any audience members were currently on Twitter. I reluctantly raised my hand- not many were raised in the audience- and he projected my Twitter profile to introduce this tool to the group. Then he asked if we blogged. And there, on three giant screens, my transparency trepidation was eradicated. He shared my blog with the audience, praising the things I was doing; things I considered to be quite insignificant. “Look at her visitor map. People are visiting from all over the world to read her blog.” They were. Transparency.

Reading others’ blogs. I started developing close connections with many in my PLN- reading their blogs regularly, relating to their passions and being inspired by their work with kids. I started commenting. I saw more comments come my way. Relationships were forming, ideas were flowing… I could get used to this.

Tweeting, tweeting, and more tweeting. Share, share, and share some more.

Writing, writing, and more writing. In August of last year I had the privilege of connecting with the fine folks at Connected Principals. It’s hard for me to describe just how meaningful it’s been contributing to the blog, working with so many amazing administrators in many different capacities, and just having that group of supportive peers there to confide in, look to for advice, write with, present with… you are all incredible!

I became a PLPeep. I was privileged to take part in a Powerful Learning Practice cohort last year with four of my teachers. Led by Sheryl, Will,  Robin, and Brian, we learned about the shifts in education, the necessary changes we as adult learners needed to make in order to best facilitate authentic learning experiences for our students, and our action research project brought us together as a team and yielded meaningful outcomes for students.

Meeting people. Face-to-face. EdcampNYC, Educon, EdcampBOS, ntcamp, TeachMeet, ISTE… so many wonderful memories, so many great friends, so much learned. These friendships wouldn’t exist without the digital connections that first brought us together, and a shared passion for educating kids. Someone tweeted as ISTE was ending, “It’s like the last day of summer camp, when you have to say goodbye to your friends.” My sentiments exactly. A transformation happens here. This is when you realize: this is a part of my life. Others have written about how  professional and personal lines get blurred. You learn to rely on that support, and you want to be a better contributor, because your network gives so much to you, that you want to give back.

That’s all it takes. 🙂 A little time, reaching out to others, a lot of learning. Effort In = Reward Out.

I wanted this post to be practical in the sense that I am going to highlight some of the tools I use, including frequency, methods, and purpose for use. Take note that this is what works for me. They might not work for you. You might not care about my methods, and you won’t hurt my feelings if you stop reading. Or if you already did.

For creating:
WordPress – For writing my blog (hosted by Blue Host. I transitioned to a self-hosting domain last year after using Edublogs for quite some time. Appreciate having my unique URL).  I blog as inspired. Also use WordPress for my school blog. I post as needed to keep our school community informed.
Blogger – We’re a Google Apps school, so I maintain a Blogger space to communicate with my teachers and also for a tech cohort group I facilitate. Update 3-4 times per week.
Wikispaces- I use our school wiki to share documents and FYIs for teachers to access throughout the year. Update as needed. I also maintain a wiki to house my resources from presentations and such.
PhotoPeach – To create simple slideshows to share on our school blog. As needed after school events.
Keynote – For presentations
iMovie– To create movies (school and life) I shoot mainly with this Flip. Love exporting directly to YouTube.
Pages – For all of my desktop publishing needs.
Evernote – For awhile, I did all of my list-making and drafting on here. If I’m at a conference, I will likely use this for note-taking.
Wunderlist– this is the note-taking app I prefer. Use it daily on my MBP, iPad, and iPhone.
iPhone camera apps I use: Instagram, PictureShow, PS Express, Photogram, Pixlromatic

For communicating & collaborating & connecting:
Twitter- every day, several times a day. On my phone and iPad: Twitter app. On my MBP: Tweetdeck. Tried Tweetdeck on the iPhone/iPad, hated it. Tried HootSuite on both, hated it more. I try to catch #edchat on Tuesday nights at 7 PM EST and #elemchat on Saturdays at 6 PM EST.
Google Calendar – My work and personal calendars are maintained on Google. My secretaries have access to my work calendar. I sync my Google calendar with my iCal account on my MBP/iPhone/iPad. Has been working smoothly. Access these daily.
Email – I use Gmail, Mac Mail, and my school webmail daily.
Slideshare to host presentations I want to share as needed; Scribd plays nicely with our school WordPress so I use that as well to share documents with parents online. As needed.
Google Docs– for collaborating on posts, presentations, etc. I draft a lot of my blog posts in a doc and then copy/paste into WP. I’m a Google Forms junkie. I use them for surveying staff following PD days and whenever I need survey data.
Skype – I’m l_hilt. Connect with me, many of my teachers are on board looking for connections for their classrooms!
Google+ – I will admit, I don’t love Google+. The intrigue of it all made me eager to start using, but I rarely check into that space more than once a week. It’s another thing. I need to find a way to streamline that and Twitter and Facebook. The hangout feature is nice. I’ve had some great conversations with other administrators and friends via hangouts.
Foursquare – Yeah, I check in there. Mary Beth tried to get me into Scvnger but, alas, I remain a I’m-at-Starbucks-now-and-I-want-you-all-to-know-about-it-Foursquare-girl.
Cloud App- I use this to easily share docs created on my MBP so I can access them on my work PC if needed.

For reading:
Browsers I use most often: Safari, Chrome (Mac); Firefox, Chrome (PC)
Google Reader– I have hundreds of feeds in my Reader. I name each one by the author  and categorize by area in education. Read daily. (I use the Reeder App on my iPhone to read on the go and find it very easy to tweet from there.)
Flipboard- I enjoy reading my Google Reader feeds through Flipboard as well as my Twitter and Facebook feeds, Flickr photos, National Geographic magazines, USA Today, and more.
Zite- This has been one of my favorite finds recently thanks to Will Chamberlain. Zite takes my interests and turns them into my own personalized magazine. Many of my favorite blog feeds find their way into the stream, but I also appreciate that it pulls from other sources, thus broadening my reading experiences.
Kindle app – I have a Kindle account and read most of my Amazon purchases on the iPad.
StumbleUpon – A way to spend a colossal amount of time online discovering some of the most fascinating content on the web.

For curating:
Diigo and Delicious – to save bookmarks of interest; I recently rediscovered Delicious after being a Diigo-only girl for quite some time, but have found that some services bookmark straight to Delicious more fluidly than to Diigo (Zite being one of them). We have a Diigo group for our district admin, and I need to more fluidly share my lists with teachers. Working on that. Many of my teacher teams use it, which is great.
bit.ly sidebar – When this little tool came my way, it made my tweeting life much easier. Install this on your favorite browser, and watch the tweets fly. Use it on Safari, Firefox, and Chrome.
Posterous– to post snippets of my favorite blog posts, articles, etc. a few times weekly
Tumblr – to compile inspiring images and quick-links a few times weekly
Flickr – Great to share school photos. Save in sets. Also upload slides to share. Sprung for the Pro account because last year I ran out of space for my school photos!
Pinterest – I’m silly-obsessed with this visually-appealing site. Browse/pin a few times weekly. You can use a Pin It Button to help organize goodness you find whilst browsing.
Read it Later– I save a lot of links here. The tricky part is remembering to go and read them. Later.

The schtuff:
I use a 13’ Macbook Pro, school-issued Lenovo tablet, iPhone 4, and iPad (the old-school one :), Flip, and I have a Canon digital rebel Xti if those photos really need to look good.

Things I used at one point but stopped using:
Scoop.it – I liked the idea of it. Wasn’t very good with the follow-through.
Quora – just didn’t have time for it.
Pearltrees – I’m not going to lie, I never used this. But I did create an account and thought I’d like to use it.
Probably hundreds of other things I can’t recall at the moment.

I want to reiterate that this can’t happen without people. People with whom you build relationships. People who care enough to show you a new tool and how it works for them; to encourage you when your blog has no readers but who stress the importance of reflection. People who tweet your posts. People who comment. People who work within your school building or district and take interest in how you’re connecting, then reach out and try for themselves. People in your local school community with whom you meet regularly in face-to-face situations to discuss students and learning. Social media can certainly bring us together with great ease, but it takes effort to build and maintain the relationships that open our eyes to new possibilities and to keep us going.

So while it is a personal process, it is unwise – and not nearly as fun – to embark on this journey alone.

If you’re still reading, thank you. Please, in the comments, tell me where I can save some time/consolidate some efforts/use different apps/methods. I know there are many things out there that are working for my PLN, and I’d love to hear about your favorites! It’s a privilege learning with you all.

58 Replies to “Effort In = Reward Out”

  1. Lyn,

    I think the message of what you put in is what you will get out is right on. Too many people think it happens over night but the reality is it takes time to create and nurture a productive PLN. The key is for everyone to find what works best for them. There are so many great tools out there for educators to use that will ultimately make them better at what they are doing. It is also great that people like you share what you do so others can learn…Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Josh,
      You are one of the people that I learn so much from. It’s funny how much a PLN can grow in a year! Glad you’re part of mine!

  2. Great post! I just wanted to add that a lot of my best learning for connecting was collaborative – friends and colleagues and strangers, formal and informal. Andm you are right, it takes a fair bit of time and patience. Also, it is perfectly okay to try things out and then abandon them if not a fit for you.

    1. Esme, thank you for reading! You’re right, the collaborative element is so important! I agree, abandon what’s not working for you. The fact that I can’t remember how many different things I’ve tried and abandoned means I have done this – a lot. 🙂 I appreciate your comment!

  3. Lyn,

    I appreciate your thoughts, especially about transparency. I find that I question myself frequently – does anyone really care about what I have to say? I’m trying to get over it, and hearing that you might have had the same concerns at some point is helpful…Thanks for your perspective!

    1. Thanks for reading, Guy! I asked myself that exact same question when I first started blogging. I was very hesitant to share, because I figured no one really was interested in what I had to say. I am sure there are plenty of people out there who aren’t. But I recall something Dean Shareski said awhile back about sharing: Even if just one person learns something from an idea you’ve shared, it was worth sharing. Keep those ideas flowing, and thanks for commenting!

  4. Thanks, Lyn. I appreciate your insight. I’ve started and stopped my blogging. Started at WordPress, which I did like. However, I switched over to Blogger which is a better fit for me.

    Love the Effort In, Reward Out as a mantra. It is a slow process to find your way and nurture a PLN. Someone once told me that Persistance and Perseverence are omnipotent. There is truth in that.

    For me, this post is a nice template to follow in that you’ve listed resources that are new to me. I’ll look forward to experimenting with them.

    My latest endeavor is the creation of a Facebook page for my blog, This Counselor’s Journey.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there.

    1. Hi, Marty,
      Great point- persistence and perseverance are key. And sometimes, people walk away, take a breather, and find their way back. It’s okay. Some people abandon it totally because it’s not for them. Also okay, as long as they have alternative outlets for learning, collaborating, and connecting. I’m glad this post helped you find some resources you might like. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Glad I played a small part in this, Lyn, but it was you who raised your hand. ;0) Congrats on your awesome travels to this point and for moving the needle on the conversation.

    See you next week!

    Will

  6. This is a great piece, Lyn, and I am sure your story parallels that of many of your/our colleagues. I think I started a blog twice, and Twitter once, before each “took,” and now they are both such a large component of who I am as an educator, thinker, and writer. But it took a lot of patience and consistent investment.
    I think too that when people start Twitter, they can have a “facebook” problem; facebook is so much more immediately intuitive and rewarding, in that it your are from the first moment inside of a network of your friends and family. But Twitter is not about immersing yourself in an already existing network; it is about incrementally constructing a PLN which is, ultimately, more rewarding, but requiring much more effort to get off the ground.

    1. Jonathan,
      I was so happy to meet you at Educon. Your writing inspires me often, and I learn so much from you. What an excellent point about the differences b/w Facebook and Twitter. For most of us, when we joined Facebook, there was already a network of friends and family waiting to greet us. Twitter takes some getting accustomed to- connecting with new people, identifying those commonalities and differences that spark interest in the conversations… definitely rewarding. And, you’re right, a lot of work. Thanks so much for commenting!

  7. This is the best post I have read detailing the journey educators who become connected go on and why social media and web 2.0 tools are not only powerful, but essential today. I can’t wait to share this post with the over 40 teachers at #lhs212 who just joined Twitter this past week! Thanks again Lyn for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Jason! I’ve enjoyed connecting with you over the recent months. I hope your teachers find the post helpful. Send them my way if they ever need anything! Thanks for commenting!

  8. This is a nice post. Don’t have much to add other than to say that my story is much the same. It can take a long time to shift to a new way of doing things. Many false starts involved.

    1. Mike, I appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment. I agree it can take a long time to shift into this mode of learning and connecting. I’ve talked with some teachers (and those in other professions) who find the whole process very unnatural. Last year we participated in a webinar as a faculty, and one teacher’s feedback was clear that she did not prefer that type of interaction. To each his own, but at some point, this is going to be something that teachers need to become comfortable with- because many of their students are already comfortable with it. Thanks again!

  9. This post is so timely; I’m doing a workshop on Twitter later this week for teachers in my district. I like your comment on why people sign up for Twitter and then don’t revisit it again: “There was no reward out, because there was no effort in.” Sure there are folks out there like Alec and George Couros who can outsource their presentations on Twitter. But it took even them time and effort to build their PLN.
    Thanks for a great post.

    1. Well, we can’t all be the Couros brothers, that’s for sure, 🙂 but there’s definitely great benefit in going to your PLN for assistance with any projects you might be working on. I know a lot of people who have turned to crowd sourcing when developing resources. This
      Great Reads for Educators list continues to grow daily!
      Thanks so much for commenting, I hope your Twitter workshop is a success!

  10. Thanks for the post.

    I originally thought building a PLN would be more interactive sooner, but, when I stop and reflect, I’ve been using Twitter only since last Spring and only recently started experimenting with blogging.

    In my head I’ve known it takes awhile, but your post serves as a good reminder.

    Thanks!

    1. Michael, it is frustrating when there isn’t immediate interaction and payback, especially when it takes a good deal of time and effort up front. Stick with it- you will see the reward as time goes on. Looking forward to reading your blog posts! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  11. Great post & so true of many relationships as far as return on your investment. I have followed a similar path & have no regrets. Many times I feel my online friends understand me better than people I see daily.
    Thanks!

  12. JoAnn,
    Excellent point about relationships. All kinds- family, friends (online and face-to-face), collegial- require time and effort to be successful and strong. I am sometimes guilty of preferring to interact with those in my online network out of sheer comfort, when I could/should be spending more time cultivating other relationships at work or in other aspects of life. But I do know that my relationships with those in my PLN have provided me with a wealth of learning, resources, laughs, and kindness that I didn’t think was possible. Thanks for commenting!

  13. Thank you for sharing your journey Lyn – it was refreshing to read and remember that yes, developing networks, whichever networks they may be (personal, professional), takes time, energy and effort. I don’t have any other tools to add to your list but have learnt of some new ones from reading this post that I’m off to check out now – so thank you 🙂

  14. Lyn,

    Very helpful post for those that are wanting to start their own personal learning network and some helpful tools and great story on how this all progressed for yourself. As you listed, you have been doing this stuff for over four years, and the amount of tools that you have shared is vast. There is definitely a lot of “effort in” on your part.

    I am curious though on what you would specifically suggest the “reward out” is. I know from your writing that you (as I do) believe in the power of relationships, and how it is better if we tap into the network and grab some ideas and implement them in our school. The person that maybe doesn’t get this “connected learning” would maybe question what past the relationships that you have created has it led to in your school or classrooms? It can seem from an outsider view that all of this stuff has just become “Educator Facebook” where we all like each other’s stuff and that’s about it.

    What are some of the things that you would say would be the big “rewards” that you have gained from doing this? Would you have gained any of these ideas if you would have not connected online? Jon Becker (I think) recently wrote a post about this and I think it is a logical question when we are looking at all the “effort in”.

    The question that any of us would have to give an answer to is, “How does this improve student learning and where is the proof?”. I would love to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks for the well written post.

    1. Great questions, the answers to which should be a post in itself…. but here are some quick things that come to mind.
      When I need something, like a resource (I think of the time when I was asked to write a student blogging policy for our board to approve), I tweet it out to my network. Within a short period of time, several examples come my way, that I can then tweak for my school’s needs. From an administrative standpoint, I find answers to questions I have from people who already have experience to share. We implemented WordPress this year and we’ve had some issues with start-up, and there are several “go-to” people that are always available to help in that regard.
      By modeling to my teachers what I am able to learn from my network, many have begun developing their own PLNs. One of my third grade teachers started a Diigo group for the district grade level team. Several are connecting on Twitter regularly, most recently to participate in the Daily 5 chat, because we’re working to implement that literacy framework this year. (This is in addition to the local study group they organized.) While we’re in the early stages of that implementation, I know their efforts will have a greater impact on students than if they were working alone on that endeavor. The support system in itself is a huge reward. They’re getting ideas from other teachers around the world who have already implemented the framework. This aligns with our school’s need to continue to strengthen literacy skills for students.
      As a result of last year’s PLP cohort action research project, our students saw growth in several of the areas identified on ISTE’s NETS for Students Our results are summarized on this page. . While this project was focused on three classrooms of students, their teachers are now leaders in our school who have worked with colleagues to introduce tools such as Google Docs (student presentation and collaborative project work), Kidblog (for summarizing key concepts and creative writing), and Skype (used in many capacities- Global Read Aloud project, Skype buddies where students interview one another, solve math problems together, etc.) into the classroom. Our discussions around student-centered learning have really made an impact on the way teachers design lessons and classroom spaces. We’ve been working to incorporate more individualized, small-group instruction and student-driven project work to support learning. Reading my teachers’ personal reflections from their work with PLP, I know that there have been real shifts in mindsets about learning, and those shifts are spreading throughout our school. This, in my opinion, has to happen in order to best influence academic outcomes.
      There are also apparent influences that can’t be “measured” that I see on a daily basis: more motivated learners, energized teachers, excited parents… so I’m not sure that is enough “proof” in this age of data-driven instruction, although we always keep a pulse on the effectiveness of certain practices by looking at our formative and summative assessment data.
      Would we have gained any of those rewards if I would not have connected online? Maybe…eventually… but without support and without experienced voices to guide us. I much prefer this way.

  15. I really like how you shared specifically what you’re using, but that you also mentioned right away that it’s different for every person. Some tools don’t fit some people.

    For me, I just can’t emphasize enough the time factor. Not only does it take time to really cultivate your network, but, as you know, you also have to really invest some time into growing relationships too.

    I’m really glad you are a part of MY network! 🙂 Nice post!

    1. Thank you, Michelle! I agree, people have to find the tools that are their own “best fit.” Tools will come and go, so it can be helpful developing comfort connecting in a variety of ways. I know no one wants to hear “this is going to take time” when starting on this journey, but it wouldn’t be fair to lead someone into thinking this is something you can just pick up and roll with in a week or two. However, once comfort is established, it really can be a time-saver, bringing ways to communicate, create, and collaborate more efficiently and effectively. So happy connecting with you!

  16. Thank you for this incredible post Lyn! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for for so long! I think the more educators who share like this, the clearer the path to wide spread success becomes. I’d love to see sessions at edcamps start discussions like this, too.
    I think this post starts a great conversation and I can’t wait to follow and see where it leads…

    1. Hi, Alison, thank you for reading and commenting. I’m following you on Twitter now- looking forward to the great things you’ll share with us!

  17. Hi Lyn,
    The engaging dialogue stemming from your post shows how many of us connect with your journey of investing in nurturing and developing a PLN. I was long skeptical of twitter, not being able to imagine what one could possibly say of value in 140 characters or less. Blogging seemed alien and I couldn’t understand the value. I had little understanding beyond the surface about ways of integrating educational technology to improve the quality of education for my students. Yet, I was intrigued. I began a school blog a little over a year ago but posted infrequently at first – only now gaining momentum. I joined twitter about six months ago anticipating that I would find answers to questions and some interesting resources. To my great surprise, I encountered educators (like you:) who continuously stretch my thinking and inspire me to aspire to provide an ever increasing quality of educational experiences for my students. I began reading blogs and even, from time to time, posting comments. I have learned answers to questions I didn’t even know to ask and have become much more serious about my own professional learning. Next step – I would love to know who those wordpress “go-to” people are as I extend my blogging and begin a professional blog in addition to my blog for parents:). I am grateful for a PLN who are so gracious in offering their insight and wisdom. Effort in = reward out. Thanks!

    1. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you this year, Shira! Thanks for your comments and all you do to add to our conversations. This is a great point: “I have learned answers to questions I didn’t even know how to ask and have become much more serious about my own professional learning.” – Amazing!! What a fantastic way to summarize the “reward out.” 🙂

  18. Hi Lyn! I love reading your posts, both Here and at yte vlrf! I have a lot to learn from you! I will ask my teachers to read this. I think many give up trying to connect because it takes time and effort. It is the effort in that is missing. I remember listening to Will Richardson saying it was common to use Twitter instead of google! That didn’t work for me then, but I am slowly growing a network that responds when I ask! The reward is worth waiting for!

    1. Thanks, Ann! I have enjoyed learning from you as well! I hope your teachers find reward in developing a learning network. The time invested is definitely worth it!

  19. Lyn: are you equipping students with their own PLN? Are teacher librarians and teacher technologists helping? Do students begin by constructing their own portal that leads to the creation of the own PLN that results in their own portfolio and the creation of their public face?

    1. David, your questions are fantastic, and they push my thinking – exactly why I appreciate having conversations with my PLN. 🙂 We just moved to WordPress K-12. Teachers have just been introduced to the platform, and we are finalizing how we’d like to approach student use of the tool. In my mind, I see the end project exactly as you described – students will have their own personalized space through the creation of a portfolio that showcases their learning and allows for interaction with their audience. Many of our students are currently blogging through Kidblog and have enjoyed reaching out to other students/classrooms through that medium. Teacher technologists… now there’s an interesting notion. Did you mean traditional classroom teachers who seek to integrate technology into everyday learning activities, or teachers assigned specifically to assist with technology integration, like a coach? Right now, we have no elementary technology coach/facilitator in our district, aside from me – I carry that “side job” and work to complete as many of those responsibilities as possible while also serving in the principalship. I suspect that in the future we will seek to make the elem. tech integrator a full-time position. Our teacher librarians are working hard to embrace their shifting roles. I’d say on the whole we still run typically traditional media programs, but all are willing to learn about evolving digital and media literacies. Tell me more about the “portal” – we have begun using Edmodo K-12 this year as well, although, since so many new tools have been introduced this year, teachers are still working to find out which tools work for them. I’d like to see more coordination between services/equipment that the district tech dept. decides to subscribe to/purchase and administrative input. We mainly discover that we have new tools “after the fact.” Our teachers and admin. need to have a way to share their needs with tech and let THOSE NEEDS drive purchasing decisions, not vice-versa. Thanks for your comment!

  20. When I was elected to the school board nine years ago, my journey began. My website I created helped me learn how to take the business of overseeing a school district and make it accessible to staff, parents and the community. It was indeed a great deal of effort and rewards have been significant on a personal level and a community level. The more we can engage the entire village in the education of our children, the easier our jobs becomes in whatever role we play.

    1. Too often the role of board member is overlooked in the technology integration process, except when looking for final approval on purchases. Last year I made a presentation to our board to share the shifts in thinking I was learning about through interactions with my PLN, and they were genuinely interested in learning more about student learning opportunities. Since many board members are not educators themselves, they always appreciate learning more about this evolving field. Your website sounds like a fantastic way to engage school-community partnerships! Thank you for commenting!

  21. Lynn,
    Thanks so much for sharing your journey. It does need to be unique. Growing a PLN is also unique. It depends upon the purpose. Those that shrug it off as another “facebook” need to see the true power! I love symbaloo as an organizer because it’s color coding and organizing as I’ve always done! No one else at work is using it; but it fills my needs! That’s what is important. Cookie cutter exactness is NOT really the goal!
    Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. Hi, Fran, thank you for your comments. I agree, knowing the purpose for forming a PLN is essential. Symbaloo is a great tool! I used it last year to put a list of favorite sites teachers may often visit. You’re right, we don’t need “cookie cutter exactness” -to each his own! Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful school year!

  22. It’s so nice to see Web 2.0 at work in my daughter’s school. It is great that you have tried so many different avenues to get the conversation started/going/growing. Keep up the great work! I truly appreciate the effort you are putting forward as an example to other Educators.

    When I worked in Quakertown, it was the 90 day rule for the teachers that I met who feared their computers: I ONLY asked them to use their computer everyday for 90 days, and soon you will wonder what you did before THEN. Surprisingly enough it actually worked most of the time 🙂

    1. Mr. Loose,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post. We are grateful for parents like you and our school community who have supported our efforts thus far! I know our students are excited about the new learning opportunities and are really beginning to embrace a culture of collaboration and creation! Thanks again for commenting, and for stopping in at parent night last night!

  23. Hi Lyn!

    This is a great post! Thank you! It’s always so hard for me to get my head around explaining it all and you did it in a very organized way. My students just read this as part of their assignment for our new 21st Century Global Skills class today http://21cglobal.blogspot.com/2011/09/getting-our-tech-toolbox-together.html.

    They are about to embark upon setting up their own PLN and you wrote the post at precisely the perfect time for us.

    Thank you for sharing what you do and for being honest. The students needed to see that this takes time and commitment.

    1. Susie, I think it’s awesome your students read the post and are developing their own PLN! Let me know if they need any other support! I will Skype in and say hi! 🙂

  24. Lyn,
    I really hit me when you gave the example of the teachers who attend a workshop learn to about something new, try it a few times, and put it away and never use it again. I have done this and often felt like this when trying out a new type of technology. I really think the effort in = reward out is exactly why many of these things haven’t meant much to me yet and maybe why I have not utilized them as much as I would like. I am currently working on my masters in educational leadership. I want to feel more comfortable with using various web tools to collaborate and communicate with staff. I really enjoyed looking through all the various tools you use on a daily basis and the information you gave on each of them. This has helped! Are there things you have done that have worked in motivating and encouraging some of your teachers to do the same? Thanks for what you have shared!

  25. Pingback: A PKM challenge!

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