So I'm really getting into this whole notion of having a PLN (Personal Learning Network). Having a PLN almost seems like a necessity now that I am truly understanding and learning and reading about it. I was already using Twitter, Facebook, Glogster, Wordpress (http://staff.bbhcsd.org/kolism), this blog, and other tools, so why not reach out to some people and offer suggestions while taking some advice in the process?
I am pretty sure I was already doing this by following larger organizations like Autism Speaks (@autismspeaks), Mayer-Johnson (@MayerJohnson) and the Upside of Downs of Greater Cleveland (@USODNEO) on Twitter and Facebook and then reading the articles that were posted. I was doing all the learning, but not contributing much.
What I learned is that, I can follow regular people who tweet and retweet their own blogs. I can tweet my blog too, and hope that someone will find my messages worthy of retweeting as well. I can keep learning about the digital tools that we can use and ask for advice and it's okay.
You see, in our district, asking other teachers for help is a weakness. You never show this weakness. Collaboration is almost nonexistent. Sure, we are united for common causes. We always pull together for charity and philanthropy. We are friends outside of school. We are cheerleaders for each other when something great happens. But when it comes to your class or your students, we are closed door. They are MY kids or YOUR kids. It is MY room and YOUR room. It is MY program and YOUR program. There is certainly a minority of people who TRY to collaborate, but it is not commonly accepted.
And so, this notion of networking to become better is what I crave. I crave this network of "strangers" to help me with ideas, to nurture what I can share with them, to understand that I can offer something without trying to boast or be any better than them. I am so passionate about this work and want to know people who truly feel the same and want to share it.
So, here is my search for a PLN. I'm on Twitter (@Room5Friends AND @morgank18). I'm trying to friend lots of people and organizations. I'm trying to stalk others' "followers" to see who I can follow with similar interests. I joined The Educator's PLN Ning. I invited teachers from my school and district to do the same. And... now what?
So what are my interests? I LOVE teaching special ed., I love kids with autism, with Down syndrome, with genetic disorders, and all kinds of special needs. I love trying to integrate technology into the classroom. I love trying to figure out how to integrate web 2.0 tools with special needs kids. I love attacking 21st Century Skills for kids with special needs. How can we get them to problem solve? How can we get them to critical think? (while still working on functional living skills and basic reading skills and math skills...) I LOVE this work. (Oh yeah, and I like long walks on the beach, candle light dinners, etc., etc.)...
And again... now what?