AASSA was great, there was a lot learned AND you met a lot of really intelligent people!! So what do you do now? As I’ve written already there’s plenty of reflection to be done and once you’ve thought through everything there are goals to be set. There’s one more thing to attend to in order to bring your conference experience full circle. Your network.
Long gone are the days of trading business cards (for most of us anyway.) We’re in the digital age now, but connections are still as valuable as ever…maybe even more so! Developing and fostering a professional/personal learning network (PLN) is perhaps the most important thing you can do as an educator, especially an international educator! Sometimes in the international world we get stuck on an island, a PLN is the best way to connect and share ideas.
LinkedIn is a great resource for contacting professionals. Some people use it to share and discover articles and news. Personally I think there are better tools for that sort of thing but to each their own. My recommendation for LinkedIn is to establish connections that you can count on as a professional network for the long term. Think of this as your binder full of digital business cards. A great resource for the future.
I’m a huge proponent of Twitter. You may have noticed at AASSA that I was pretty active on Twitter. To be honest, I’m not usually as active as I was that week. However, a conference like that is made for Twitter. My Twitter usage varies depending on my schedule and what I have to share. However, I consider it as one of my top resources as an educator.
Building a network of people to follow on Twitter takes a little time. However, it’s not hard and as your understanding of the Twitter-sphere grows so too will your PLN. Follow these easy tips and you’ll quickly have lots of wonderful ideas flowing down your feed:
- Follow your colleagues.
- Look at who your colleagues are following, then follow some of those people.
- Use Twitter’s suggestions, it’s amazing how smart Twitter can be 🙂
- Go back to the #L4LAASSA feed and follow anyone who had something insightful to say.
- Ask…feel free to reach out and ask people who to follow, I’m happy to make recommendations.
Once you’re established on Twitter it’s time to start discovering Twitter chats. These “conversations” usually last for about an hour and are centered around just about any topic. Search here for educationally focused chats (warning: this page is a bit overwhelming.) Once you’ve identified a Twitter chat you’re keen to join, do just that…join the conversation (this article does a good job of explaining how and why to join Twitter Chats.)
Twitter chats are a fantastic source of learning, networking, and sharing. The amount of learning that takes place in a quality Twitter chat is amazing. Think of it as a very focused session at a conference, except it’s crowdsourced and not just one person talking at the group. In terms of sharing, this is a perfect place for you to share ideas you’ve been thinking about and get feedback from peers. Lastly, the networking and bonding that happens in a Twitter chat is really cool. The people in your PLN start to become virtual friends who you can rely upon.
As educators we enjoy the reality that we’re never done learning. So once you’ve gotten your head around all of those notes you took at #L4LAASSA, it’s time to build your PLN and continue your professional growth. I’m happy to help, if you’re looking for support please reach out at any time!