I have always loved learning from my colleagues and other educators. I loved attending PD Day activities with my school board. I love going to conferences and participating in workshops or webinars. I love taking courses and learning new things. Look up lifelong learner in the dictionary and you’ll see my name!
However, when I first signed up for Twitter, I didn’t “get it”. I almost abandoned it altogether, but I started following some of the educators that I really admired like Kelly Gallagher (check out his books Write Like This and Readicide) and Penny Kittle (check out her books Write Beside Them and Book Love). Both of these educators inspired me to be a better high school English teacher fostering a love for reading and writing in my students. I started following some of the people that they would retweet or mention to start following more inspiring educators on Twitter.
My Twitter game really picked up when I started sharing my personal professional practice. An amazing thing happened — people started following me! This boosted my confidence and I started to become more active sharing my experiences, challenges and failures.
My PLN really started to grow the more I reached out to people to solicit advice or personally ask questions. I started following blogs and signing up for updates every time the blog had a new post. The first blog I started following was Jennifer Gonzales‘ Cult of Pedagogy. I love her blog because it was like she was reading my mind and writing posts about it. I sensed that the student experience and their ultimate success was at the core of her values.
The next amazing experience I had was to attend CNIE at Laurentian University were I met amazing educators right here in my own city – Kelly Brennan, Aaron Langille, and Sarah Bouchard. I had been following them on Twitter but being able to meet them in person was great! We had the chance to reconnect again at the #TESS18 conference in Toronto – and spend a whopping 5 or so hours on a bus home when our flights were cancelled!
If you’ve ever read Cult of Pedagogy’s blog post Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers, then you’d know that:
Among companion plants, the marigold is one of the best: It protects a wide variety of plants from pests and harmful weeds. If you plant a marigold beside most any garden vegetable, that vegetable will grow big and strong and healthy, protected and encouraged by its marigold.– Jennifer Gonzales, Cult of Pedagogy
I thoroughly enjoy cultivating my PLN of brightly coloured marigolds (and roses and tulips and lilies and daisies and sunflowers)!