Sunday, June 23, 2019

Maximize Your #ISTE19 Experience: Opportunity to Grow Your PLN

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PLN is not just another edu buzz acronym. It stands for Personal Learning Network. It's an essential component of being a connected educator. One of the first pieces of advice I received when I became a tech coach was to get on Twitter. I was told that expert educators are on Twitter giving their knowledge away for free. This person (Jon Corippo - @jcorippo) wasn't kidding. Once my PLN started growing, my learning shot sky high. Honestly, I wouldn't be writing this blog had I not taken that sage advice.

If you are reading this, you're on the right track. You're attempting to build a PLN. Conferences are great ways to connect with many educators and grow your PLN. Here are two of my favorite tips for maximizing conference time to grow a PLN.

Stalk the Hashtag
It sounds creepy, but go to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and search the conference hashtag. See what attendees are posting. "Like" the posts. Click on the attendees' profiles and follow those you think might be good to connect with. If someone follows you, check out their profile and follow back.

Gaze at Name Badges 
Conferences usually provide attendees with name badges. Conferences like ISTE and CUE put the attendees' Twitter handles on the name badges. As the numbers of your followers and those you follow grow, you will begin to recognize names and Twitter handles on name badges. Some of the best connections, and edu friends, I've ever made came from conference hallway meetings when I recognized someone's name and or Twitter handle on the name badge. I love those moments when I meet someone in the hallway and say "I know you from Twitter!". It's such a rush. The spontaneity sparks incredible conversations and lasting friendships. These moments are great selfie opportunities.  One of my best edu friends Jeremiah Ruesch (@mathkaveli) met this way years ago at CUE. We connect and collaborate to this day.

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These two tips sound a bit odd and creepy when I say stalk and gaze, but the connections I've made in this fashion have made me a better educator. I've formed life long friendships. Having a growing PLN gives me the freedom of not having to be an expert on everything. I have my wheelhouse, but when someone asks about something I'm not particularly familiar with, I definitely can point them in the direction of someone who is.

How will you grow your PLN?

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