I have been reading a lot of reflective blog posts this week and have spent some time reflecting on 2009 myself. You see towards the end of 2009 I discovered the power of having an online PLN. Most people don’t understand why I’m so passionate about my global PLN, and probably some never will. I’ve even decided to do some research into the ‘Power of your PLN’, so that I can try to explain to others why I feel so strongly that they need to build their own PLN. (To be a part of my PLN research, take the survey.)
What I have realized this week is that others may not understand me, because they don’t know how I got here. Here is my tale of 2009. It was full of very high highs, and extremely low lows, but it ended with a PLN that I feel gives me something everyday, a purpose.
I spent most of the beginning part of 2009 finishing an Internship, while working full time as a teacher mentor in our district. I also spent time planning my first ever vacation overseas to the UK. The beginning of July brought an extremely high high when I visited the Cornwall Region in England, walked through the ruins at Tintagel, gazed upon Stonehenge and Avebury, walked the fields of my ancestors in the Border Region in Scotland, and stood at Ainslie Place in Edinburgh.
Back in the USA, the end of July brought tragedy to my family. In a split second decision, my great nephew was gone. An 18 year old who had great potential to go far in life would not. We spent the next couple of weeks trying to make sense of something that was senseless. I stopped reading books for pleasure, as well as educational ones. I wasn’t interested in any of my usual hobbies or pastimes. I was having a hard time focusing on anything. There were other events in 2009 that certainly didn’t help the situation either. Throughout it all I kept clinging to hope, frankly because if I admitted that there wasn’t hope things would get better, then there would only be despair.
Towards the end of August I was still in a funk, but needed to start getting my act together because I had some workshops coming up. Thanks to friends, colleagues, and family I started to pull it together. One of my first workshops was the first session of ‘Increasing Student Achievement using web 2.0 tools’. Enter the ‘Power of the PLN’. Through my exploration I started getting more involved with twitter (thanks to Christin aka @Hulleygirl), forums like Educators PLN, and slowly started to develop my current PLN.
Here is my reflective aha… it wasn’t until I started building my online PLN that I started growing again. Growing emotionally, physically, and intellectually. I created this blog, visited other blogs and left comments, joined groups on forums, and interacted with my twitter colleagues. For me it’s about feeling like you are a part of something bigger than your little niche. It’s about getting a global perspective, and sharing your experiences. I have a local support network who are very important to me, but now I also have a global one who I can ask questions to as well as share my thoughts with. That is why my global PLN is so important to me. Everyone has their own journey to take, and their own reasons for building their PLN, this is mine.
When I first sat down to write this reflection it was meant to be only for my eyes, more of a personal reflective journey. I have decided to actually post it because I want my PLN to know how much they really helped me.
So, thanks to all of you whom I follow on twitter, members of the Educator’s PLN, colleagues who keep me thinking during #edchat on Tuesdays, and everyone who reads and comments on my blog.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and growth-filled new year!