by Hope Morley
The sun is shining, the days are getting longer, and the end of the school year is fast approaching. In addition to some much-needed R&R, summer is a great time to work on building your personal learning network (PLN). Here are four things to try over the break.
1. Attend an Edcamp or summer workshop
Find a local Edcamp, a self-proclaimed “unconference” organized by local educators. Edcamps are a great place to network and learn from other teachers.
If there isn’t an Edcamp near you, search for education workshops in your area using Google or EventBrite. Local colleges and universities are often a good place to start.
2. Spend time exploring Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever social network interests you
Summer is the perfect time to devote ten minutes a day to participating in professional conversations on social media. Start slow, by finding new people to follow. Then try commenting on articles or resources you like. Set a goal, such as one comment per day (and follow through if a conversation ensues!). By the end of the summer, you could have started 50 or more conversations. Even if most of them don’t lead to anything, a few might inspire great connections!
In addition, share the posts you like or what you’re learning. Make your Twitter stream or Pinterest boards worth following.
3. Find new bloggers to follow
Find some new blogs that interest you. You can start from a directory such as Teach100, or try Googling your subject and grade level. If you find a blog you like, leave a comment or reach out to that person on social media. Or simply start loading those blogs into an RSS feed or reading app such as Flipboard to refer to during the school year.
4. Join a teacher community on Ning or Google+
These communities are specifically set up for conversations and sharing ideas. Join a few and see what your peers have to say. (Try starting with the wonderful and huge Classroom 2.0.) These groups can be easier to jump into than one-on-one forms of social media, especially if you’re creating a new account.
Once you have the foundation built, it’ll be much easier to keep up with your PLN when August rolls around. What are your PLN plans for the summer?
Hope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT.