My Love/ Hate Relationship with PLNs


I opened my twitter account in November of 2007 after an inspiring weekend at the JEA/ NSPA Fall Conference in Philadelphia.  I was hooked, and proceeded to follow everything and everyone I found interesting.  My life became awash with news, at first in a good way, then began a slow transition to what one might call a pedantic obsession with facts that most people don’t need to know. The overarching problem was, the more I followed the more I had to sort between whom was eating a delicious hamburger and the latest exploits of George W.  It became exhausting.  Finally after a few months, I abandoned it.

Two years later (roughly) the hashtag phenomena began,  and I, who considered myself an early adopter (for my age group) was busy with other things. I let my account remain in stasis while I chased other fads and my one year old son.

Long story short, I’m back and active.  However, that initial feeling of having this incredible knowledge base at the swipe of my finger is regressing to frustration.  The difference, it’s not so much news as it is the PLNs (Professional Learning Networks) of which I attempt to be a part.

The PLN craze is in full swing in the education world.  And while I have walked away with some outstanding new knowledge, I can’t shake the feeling that all too often I log off with the same frustrated feeling I have after a poor professional development training.

Educators in general love talking about themselves, we do.  I do it constantly as do many of my colleagues.  The issue is, that there are two general reasons for talking about ourselves, our classrooms, our students, or our buildings.

  1. We love what we do and want to share best practice.
  2. We feel the need to justify ourselves, or prove that we’re doing everything we can.

It is the latter that makes me walk away from my screen.  We’ve all been there, I love a “job well done” just as much as anyone else, but I’m here for the knowledge.  What is my, “take away” beyond more questions, and the restless night’s sleep that results?

It sounds harsh, but it’s the reality.  If I’m rushing through my other obligations to engage in a professional conversation, I’d like to leave with something, if nothing more than a new book to read, a new strategy to implement, or a new colleague to collaborate with, but too often I leave with questions, and a sinking guilt that I rushed the last two pages of Captain Underpants with my oldest son.

Note:  #aplitchat has always left me wanting to log in to Powell’s and buy books.  #edchatri #slowchatela and #totallyrossome have their brilliant moments as well.


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