I love to learn. Twitter has been my go-to learning platform for the past few years. My favorite part about it is that I can jump on for a few minutes and instantly find great blog posts, resource ideas, or encouraging words from other educational leaders and professionals. It is the easiest way for me to get my learning fix. The wonderful side-benefit is the Personal Learning Network (PLN) I’ve established through social media. I use other sites (LinkedIn being one of my most successful for making professional connections), but Twitter is my favorite for professional learning. The best part is that social media allows us to enlarge our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and PLN beyond school walls and city limits. And I have yet to find someone not willing to help. It’s great to work, learn, and discuss together.
Learning with/from my PLCs and PLN is one of the easiest ways to grow. I think people typically have more than one PLC. I have people that I would consider in my leadership PLC. I have those that I go to with technology integration questions or ideas. Other people are in my ELL PLC. Get the picture? All of these combined make up my PLN. I know there are well-known education gurus who have coined their own definitions for PLC and PLN, but this is how it makes sense to me.
I also greatly appreciate my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I typically think of this group as being broader, less personal, and more encompassing. I am pretty focused on following people on Twitter, and connecting with people on LinkedIn that I feel I can learn from and/or with
I can’t really describe the emotion I have after walking away from discussing something I’m passionate about with a like-minded individual. The thought I have is generally, “Wow. She actually gets it.” I’m energized, I’m excited, and I’m typically eager to take another step. This is what happens when I collaborate with my Professional Learning Community (PLC). It is pretty easy to find someone who “gets it” and is willing to talk, tweet, message, or email – leaving me happier and more adept in my professional life.
I’m one of those (possibly strange) people who usually like meetings, thrive at professional conferences, and am energized after an impromptu conversation with a like-minded professional. Because of these face-to-face learning tendencies, it might appear that this how I learn best. On top of these, however, I love to read. I don’t read much “self-help” types of books for enjoyment (Give me a novel and a beach and I’m set!), but I am reading two right now. One is in digital format that I read through my Kindle app. The other is a good, old-fashioned hard copy of Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger. I am only about forty pages into this one, but it’s already highlighted and tabbed all over the place. I tend to read these types of books slowly, because I want to get as much out of them as I can.
I think growth can, and should, take on more forms than just “learning” in the traditional sense, too. I learned how to play laser tag a couple of months ago (so much fun!), and got to enjoy my kids at the same time. I couldn’t know how to play this game by listening to someone tell me about it, or reading the directions in a book. I had to have first-hand experiences to really grasp it.
Overall, I think learning should be fun and beneficial. Will it always be fun? Of course not. But when it is, I’m more likely to continue it. Will it always be beneficial? Yes. I either learned something from the experience, or learned that I won’t have that kind of experience again. All learning should produce some type of change. It could be major or minor, but some thoughts and/or actions should be challenged, affirmed, or stretched based on every learning experience. And we know that generally change is hard to prepare for. I think the most we can do to prepare is to be open-minded, attentive, and in a constant state of learning and growth.