I know the old saying can be true, teachers make the worst students. But we need to take ownership of our learning, and sometimes that means we need to be the presenters in our own learning environment.
I have gone to a few ‘unconference’ EdCamp-styled events the past couple years. At each of these, I left with tons of ideas, felt inspired and rejuvenated. Each time I went as an attendee, with the mindset to sit back and absorb as much information as possible. But I was wrong, I was being selfish and using the other attendees for my own personal gain. The buzz phrase lately has been PLN – creating a personal learning network. A network involves connections. As an audience member, I was not connecting and engaging with the other learners, my fellow teachers.
I went to an event recently in NJ with the goal being to get involved. Yes, it can be a scary feeling. Intimidating, too. But we all have ideas to share that can be beneficial to others’ teaching, and to our own learning.
When I arrived at the event, there were about 50 educators, none of whom I knew. I saw the sign-up board; only four spots were taken out of about 25 available. Only four people had something to share. I thought about it, I knew I could get involved. I have this app that I have used successfully, maybe there are some teachers who could benefit from hearing about it. I didn’t have a formal presentation, no slide show to click through. All I had was my iPad where I could access the app and have the audience see an example lesson I did with some second graders. So jumping in, I signed up.
That signing up spurred me to go further. I started to tweet to the event’s hashtag. This connected me to some other teachers, present at the event who had similar interests (technology). I saw an individual was recording a podcast of the event. He was looking for educators to interview, but no one was going over. I felt encouraged to keep going outside my comfort zone, so I went over to him. I ended up having a very rich and in depth conversation on engagement in the classroom.
Creating Your PLN
When the time came to present, I had about a dozen teachers who came intrigued to hear about this app that I was willing to share. Of course, technology being what it is, I had a couple connectivity hiccups, but sailed through the rough waters by having a discussion on what topics I’ve taught with the app. Once we connected, we were able to get interactive with it, and even though I was the presenter I was learning by listening to all the ideas they generated. Statements like, “I could do this…” or “the students would be able to do that…” Echoed around the room. My willingness to share one item that works well for my teaching gave a wealth of ideas back to me from the audience members.
I’m looking forward to the next ‘unconference’ where I will get up and present again. Sharing a strategy or activity that has worked well for me and maybe a benefit to someone else’s teaching style. But the true benefit will be to me. By getting interactive, creating connections, and building a network that grows my own professional learning.
Cross-posted on Edudemic: http://edudemic.com/2013/05/taking-ownership-of-your-pln/?utm_source=feedly