But reach and data are not what I want to write about. For me, my #PLN has become something much more personal than Twitter feeds, G+ community members or LinkedIn connections. Over the past 18 months, my #PLN has become my greatest team of advocates and supporters, the ones who push me the hardest, the ones who celebrate my successes with me, the ones who point out my mistakes, the ones who collaborate with me. Yes, there are folks at my school site who fill many of these roles too, no doubt. But my core #PLN colleagues and friends have really ingrained themselves into my daily habits and endeared themselves to me as much more than Twitter handles and avatars-real or not.
It was as I worked on my 1st year CPSEL summary for clearing my Tier II this week that it truly hit me just how valuable this group has been in my formation and advancement. In logging my progress, I reflected on how instrumental my #PLN had been in much of what I accomplished. Here is just a partial list of what is in that summary:
- I not only attended conferences (11 this year--up from 6 last year), but I also presented at 8 of them
- I helped to organize an Ed Camp
- I have been inspired to push more of our faculty to think outside the box
- I was able to get an Innovation Lab approved and built in under a year
- I write this blog
- I actively solicit feedback on my performance from the teachers at my school site
- I am learning how to have difficult conversations
- I visited other schools to see what they are doing and get information and ideas to bring back
- I have encouraged our teachers to attend conferences and workshops (totaling over 1,000 hours this year of outside PD, not counting what they are doing this summer!)
- I use Voxer and Twitter to get real feedback, engage in meaningful conversations, problem solve, dream, and find inspiration on a daily basis
In the past year we have made a lot of meaningful change at our school. Here are a few of my favorites:
- A parent commented to me that on a scale of 1-10, our school is definitely a 10 in the arena of innovation. I was shocked by this feedback. I would put us at a 7-8. For her to say she views us as a "10" was amazing, inspiring, and gratifying!
- I was able to introduce Design Thinking and Project Based Learning to our faculty (primarily through my Twitter connections)
- At some recent PD, our faculty led and shared for much of the time and I was so proud! To see other teachers stand in front of their peers and share their enthusiasm for a process or an app or a site was amazing. And many of these individuals wouldn't have dreamed of doing so just a year ago.
- We have an amazing teacher on our staff who is one of the five finalists for the Comcast Bay Area All Star Teacher Award (we find out July 8 who won). Her ability to be selected is completely because she is a rock-star teacher. But honestly, if it wasn't for my #PLN, I wouldn't have been able to write her nomination because I would have had no idea of just how amazing she really is in comparison to many teachers out there.