May 11

The Importance of Creating a “Personal” Professional Learning Network

Well, folks, I finally did it. I finally broke down and “joined the conversation!” I really did…and it’s been wonderful!

Wait, Dawn, what are you talking about? What “conversation?”

You know, the “Education” conversation! Three of them, in as many weeks, in fact! And, wow, have I made some AMAZING connections! 

You see, I’ve been active on Twitter for the past few years, just not that active. I’ve followed this person and retweeted that one, but I never really engaged with much of anyone until recently. I guess a pandemic quarantine will cause you to do some out-of-the-ordinary things…

Anyways, I always thought I had a PLN, up until now. I mean I did–it just happened to be all of Twitter, I guess you could say! The problem was, my PLN just wasn’t that “personal.” I didn’t feel like I was really connecting with others. It was more like I was sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else play and never joining in. But, after these past few weeks, I think I’ve finally figured out what it means to have your own Personal Professional Learning Network, or PPLN, and how very important it is to one’s growth and well-being. It all began with a quick tweet from the earliest member of my new PPLN, Sherry Hardy, about a month ago. She wrote:

“I’ve been invited, but haven’t been successful at joining some Teacher Zoom chats!  I’d like to plan one for Monday night! Please send me a DM if you’re available for some educator chatter!!”

I was SUPER nervous but I replied anyway with: “Sent you a DM…I’m in!” 

What was I doing? I didn’t know this person? But, I joined anyway and thank goodness I did! It turned out to be the most wonderful Monday evening I’d had in a long while. It was relaxing, low key, and I really felt like I had known these folks my entire life. We talked about everything! That hour flew by!

From that moment, my Personal PLN became officially 9 people! Now, don’t get me wrong, I follow a decent number of folks on twitter, but to me, these 9 individuals had just become my People, my #TeacherSquad. Monday evenings have become a time to unwind, to share stories and experiences, to meet with others who understand my struggles because they are also living them each day, right alongside me. When we are together, we laugh…a lot. Sometimes, we sit silently, listening. We share, and most importantly, we understand. Because of this, my PLN now includes this beautiful little PPLN.

Very soon after connecting with my Zoom Crew, I became connected with Dustin Pearson via some twitter chats (which I will be talking about in my next post, if you aren’t familiar with navigating those). Dustin manages the We Are One Team blog where he focuses on three key qualities when it comes to educating kids: relationships, culture, and engagement. Dustin is an enthusiastic, dedicated educator who projects a kind heart and a caring spirit. His Youtube channel We Are One Team does wonderful work bringing insight from educators around the world. His passion for education is contagious, and I am happy to have added him as another personal connection in my PPLN!

The next two connections I made were nearly simultaneous and turned into a whirlwind of a weekend on Twitter and VoicEd Radio. It all began when I decided to reply to this tweet from Carol Salva

Carol’s tweet connected me to #BELIEVE_Cafe with Dorina Ebuwa (Miss Dorito). Miss Dorito’s Youtube series on Transformative Emotional Intelligence is transforming me RIGHT NOW! I am on Day 3, and her highly entertaining approach to helping us understand ourselves is really helping me to gain some perspective! 

After our brief Twitter conversation, Carol encouraged me to call into her Boosting Achievement podcast where she would be talking with who else but Miss Dorito herself! Whoa! And there I was again folks, this time on live radio, pouring out my teaching spirit for all to hear…and it felt great! Add 2 more to my PPLN! 

And these aren’t all the folks, by far. At present, I am also blessed to be working with Nina Amir, the Inspiration to Creation Coach. Her Nonfiction Writer’s University is helping me to finish my very first manuscript which I plan to have ready for editing by the end of this month! (I can’t even believe this is really happening!)

So, here is what I have learned these past few weeks: There are people out there who want to connect with you, who want to help you. It’s why they do what they do. Sometimes, they will reach out to you, but sometimes, you have to find the courage to reach out to them first.

There are people out there who want to connect with you, who want to help you. It’s why they do what they do. Sometimes, they will reach out to you, but sometimes, you have to find the courage to reach out to them first.

I know it’s scary, but you won’t regret it if you do. 

You don’t have to go on your search for understanding alone. There are folks out there just waiting to help you with whatever it is you are searching for. Heck, maybe you don’t even know you’re searching for anything, just like I didn’t when I stumbled on Miss Dorito’s BELIEVE_Cafe!

My advice to you is to find your People and they will help you to overcome your struggles. They will teach you something, or they may simply be that someone to give you a lift when you need it. There are people out there who want to support you. It’s why they exist.

Eckhart Toll said, “Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there…’” 

Want to know how to help alleviate that stress? Just focus on finding your People and they will help get you to your “there.”

Just focus on finding your People and they will help get you to your “there.”

In the comments below, please share with us how you are forming and maintaining your own Personal Professional Learning Network? Tell us about the great connections you’ve made lately to help get YOU to your “there.”

#rootsmatter #WholeTeacher #YOUpower

Happy Growing, Friends!


education, Learning Communities, making connections, PLC, self-improvement, teaching support

Dawn Harris

Dawn Harris

I am a Secondary English Educator in SW Ohio & Associate Professor at Wright State University in the Graduate Teaching Program. I enjoy writing and presenting about all things education.

  1. The world benefited from how you poured out your teaching spirit on my show, Dawn. And they will continue to benefit from it because you share from your heart the way you are doing in this blog. Thank you for being such a light. We need you!

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