I created my Twitter account in November of 2009 to connect with my own students and share out news articles or resources about science topics. The major byproduct of this was the connections that I started to make with other teachers, whether they were teaching in neighboring districts or even across the country and world. I got introduced to new ideas (flipping and mastery) while at the same time was challenged with what I believed as an educator. I would make connections with others before attending conferences and Edcamps, making those face-to-face interactions that much more meaningful. I was constantly seeing new ideas and resources being shared out that can help to give me ideas or new directions to attempt. My favorite year of teaching all happened due to me seeing a single tweet about a flipped classroom. That led me to finding others who were flipping as well as creating a mastery styled classroom, that was based on standards. I grew immensely during that time and am a much better teacher because of it.
My PLN is what keeps pushing me forward as an educator. I have always believed in being a constant learner but seeing what other great educators are doing, helping to keep me looking at what I can be doing to improve and what challenges I can attempt. The people in my PLN that tend to help guide me the most are the ones that I have created stronger connections. They are the ones that I have met in person or have spent time in a non-professional setting getting to know each other better (definitely a group of tech coaches I know from Iowa that fit into this one that have helped me grow in a multitude of ways). They are also the ones that are going to answer the questions I have in a more timely manner, whether they are about ideas for professional learning or creating my own Chrome Extension (thanks Curt!).
For example, the great people I got to meet as part of the Google Innovator Academy last summer in Boulder are constantly sharing out their work. They are all attempting great things and while I am proud of the work that I am doing, I know there is always more I can be doing. I feel blessed that I was able to hang out and learn with these great educators, as they are helping me become better.
I would say I am who I am as an educator today thanks in a large part to my PLN. Whether they are educators I only know digitally or whether they are fellow educators from Iowa who I may only get to see at our state conferences, there are a ton of great people I have connected with who have helped me to continue to grow.