Stepping out of your comfort zone. One of the most effective and impactful ways to grow. Stepping out of your comfort zone in any area of life can have an immediate and/or long-lasting impact on your future. It might open new doors, create new opportunities, or give you the chance to meet new people. An example of this in my life, is when I took my summer job with Regina Downtown Business Improvement District last summer. It was a job that wasn’t necessarily aimed towards education students and it involved tasks and an area of the city I was unfamiliar with. I ended up taking a chance and doing to job. It ended up being one of the best summers of my life and, because they discovered my background with graphic design, they offered me a Social Media, Marketing, and Graphic Design position with them this year. If I hadn’t have taken that leap, my life would look very different right now.
This impact is no different when it comes to our own Professional Learning Network we developed during this semester. Throughout this course, we were tasked to establish and largely develop our own network through various platforms that would serve us well in our future teaching career. To do this, we set up our own ePortfolios, ran our own blogs, used Twitter as a professional resource, used Slack as a class community, and interacted with our peers from our class in various different ways. Going into EDTC 300, I had heard so many great things about the course and the opportunities, skills, and resources it has to offer. I knew that I would at some point join this class, but I’m sure glad it happened this early on. I feel as though I’m now a step ahead when it comes to knowledge of online tools, technology integration into schools, and of course the development of our own Professional Learning Network. In our lectures, we discussed how well a PLN can serve you and the different ways it can impact your professional development. We discovered that it is a great way to share and find resources or lesson plans, it’s a great way to meet and learn from other educators and other in the field, it is a great way to show off your own personal set of skills and ideas, it is a great way to keep up with the latest trends and current events, it is a great place to find new tools to use in your classroom, and it is a great way to show your own personal growth as an educator and as a professional.
Now, the purpose of this post it to demonstrate how I have developed my own Professional Learning Network, and how I have contributed to the learning of others as well during the duration of this course. In this course, we worked on three main platforms, which included our ePortfolios/Blogs, Slack, and Twitter.
Our ePortfolios and blogs was, by far, the space where I put in the most time and effort. As the semester carried on, I started to realize just how important that space could become. We started to discuss how it could become a space to hold all our collected resources and lesson plans, and that it even could become another version of a resume for us in the future. So, I made sure to develop a professional and in-depth blog, as well as always made sure that I was writing insightful and substantial posts. You never know who made read it one day. However, another reason why I focused on this platform is because of the opportunity it brought when interacting with others. I found the EDTC 300 Blog hub so helpful this semester. I made it very easy to find others posts and blogs, where I could then comment or “steal” ideas from the resources and lesson plans they provided. In terms of commenting, I was reluctant at first to put myself out there like that. I have never been good at giving comments, and I always ended up saying the same thing. But I knew it was necessary for others learning and my own, so I challenged myself to always continually engage with my peers. In one of the lectures, it was suggested we make around 2 comments a week, however I knew the more I commented, the more beneficial it would be. So, I usually tried to comment at least 3 times a week, if not more, on other people’s posts. Now there were some weeks where I couldn’t comment as much as I had hoped simply because I did not have the time, which is crazy to think because we are living through a pandemic. Therefore, when I did post on someone else’s blog, I made sure to make it count. I always tried to make it insightful, thoughtful, and helpful to both of our learning. I tried to touch on the points that stood out most to me, I tried to ask questions where possible, and on some occasions, I tried to give them ideas or suggestions on things they could think about or resources they could look for. Below are a few examples of comments I made on other’s blogs. If you’d like to see all the comments I made this semester, click this document link: EDTC 300 Peer Responses
Comment made on Hannah Magnusson’s post, “Looking Into the Future of Teaching”
Comment made on Tamantha Kirsch’s post, “Finding my Place on Twitter”
Comment made on Brianne Munro’s post, “I Tube, We Tube, YOUTUBE”
Comment made on Mikaela Deguzman’s post, “Does Silence Really Speak Louder Than Words”
Comment made on Caitlin Kendall’s post, “Back to the Basics”
Now, the one platform used in this class that I didn’t overly utilize was Slack. I’ll fully admit, I could have been, and probably should have been much more active on that platform than I already was. It seemed like a really great resource and a great tool to help establish a class community. It seemed like it had great resource sharing functions and had various helpful ways to ask other questions. It was one of those tools that could have been very beneficial to the development of others and our own PLN’s. However, I think the reason I did not utilize it as much is because it seemed so similar to other platforms we were already using, and I always forgot I could be sharing things on it because I was too invested into the other platforms. To me, it seemed like another version of Twitter, that was just “less” online and only confined to our class. The only difference I saw is that we could ask question so that only our class could see. But for me, all my questions I had throughout the semester seemed to be asked/answered by other people on one of the three resources or in the class itself. The only thing I used Slack for was to ask our Instructor Katia a few questions to trouble shoot some problems I was having with my blog. So, I admit, Slack seemed like a pretty great resource, and I fully understand I should have utilized it more than I did. But it definitely helped my own learning because I was always sure to keep up with other’s comments on there. I should have just made more comments myself.
The last platform we heavily relied on during the duration of this class this semester was Twitter. This was another platform that I tended to focus on more in this class. As I stated in my Twitter Blog post earlier this semester, I never really thought of Twitter as a professional and educational tool. To me, it was just another social media app that people used. Before this spring, I had only played around with Twitter for about half an hour and became very uninterested very easily. For me, it was just another version of Instagram or Facebook but without pictures to break up the stories. However, as we started to use it in this class, I started to realize it’s potential. It became a great resource for me, and I realize just how much interaction and resource sharing that can happen on the platform. The Saskedchat certainly helped me realize that from the get-go. I was able to find so many great resources from my peers in this class and I was able to meet and follow a bunch of other educators from all across Canada. All of a sudden, I was interacting and sharing with teachers from coast to coast, which would have never happened if we didn’t have the opportunity to use this platform. As for my contribution to the learning of others, I always made an effort to help out my peers. We were originally recommended to do at least two tweets a day, however I quickly realized the benefits this could bring to my own and other’s PLN’s, so I challenged myself to share, retweet, or comment at least 4 or 5 times a day. That happened most days. On twitter, I made sure to comment on classmates’ posts and either give my own thoughts and/or thank them for sharing the resource. I would also share my own set of resources and other interesting articles that I either found on feedly or twitter. These resources always varied in topics, but they usually revolved around promoting new technological tools for education, or how different situations like this global pandemic will affect the future of schooling. I also made an effort to retweet my classmates’ posts that I found very interesting. Our class was able to collect so many great resources, so I made sure to share some of them so others could use them as well. Then the last thing on twitter was promote my own blog and learning project, which definitely increased the traffic and comments on my ePortfolio and posts. Overall, twitter was a really great resource. It helped myself and my peers interact and share with one another and helped us find new people and resources that we can stay connected with as we start our careers. Below are a few examples of the tweets and interactions I had on Twitter this semester. If you want to see my other tweets not included in this post, check out my twitter profile @mojobray20.
Overall, the discussions we had in class, the resources and platforms we used, and the interactions we created amongst peers was very beneficial to our learning. Not only did it help me find resources and other people to grow my own Professional Learning Network, but it also taught me how to contribute to the PLN’s of others as well. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone, out of my own bubble, and gave me the necessary push to share, interact with, and help the others around me. Those are skills that I can now carry with me going forward. I plan to continue those interactions and to further develop my own Professional Learning Network and ePortfolio in the future.