I’m lucky to know a few practicing teachers well and take every opportunity to ask them questions, discuss teaching and learning issues, and share my concerns. Of course, I have also gotten to know a few of my classmates from various disciplines and I routinely discuss with them the themes, ideas, and philosophies we are learning. In addition, I rely on my husband, who is not an educator, as a sounding board – I like to hear opinions that are different than my own and to be challenged to explain myself more clearly. I feel that, in many ways, it’s my partner and other friends outside of teaching who help me to question and, therefore, to identify the common sense of education.
Also my cooperating teacher from my ECS300 pre-pre-internship has been an excellent connection. I’ve enjoyed discussing with her the practical application of the theories discussed in classes.
I think the first thing to say is that I am a media consumer, not a producer. I’m right on that Gen X/Y cusp that makes me hesitant to launch full tilt into the online world.
Add to that my years as a government employee when I had to be very careful about what I said, to whom, and in what context and what you get is – well, a less than full participation online.
Nevertheless, I’m an avid consumer of media and I share my perspectives freely in person – so my personal learning network has been built the semi-old-fashioned way.
According to GettingSmart.com, there are different learning roles associated with a personal learning network: activist, reflector, theorist, and pragmatist. I identify most with the “theorist” role, which is described as a person who prefers “to learn by researching information and data.” (Getting Smart, 2013) I use various online sources to research and develop my own opinions. I read news articles on education through a Google alert I’ve created. I also like to browse TED talks on education subjects and I peruse The Teaching Channel for interviews and videos of teachers in their classrooms.
Another excellent source for ideas and discussion is Goodreads – I enjoy exploring materials and discussing resources here. In fact, this is where I researched resources for a unit plan I created for another class. I also use Pinterest to research teaching strategies.
I like to keep up with issues and perspectives through OZY.com; I especially love their Presidential Daily Briefing and the Acumen section. I find that reading outside the field is an excellent way to keep me from relying on “common sense.” Along the same lines, The Electric Typewriter curates the best articles and essays by amazing authors on a variety of subjects.
I openly contribute to class discussion in the lecture and seminar. I believe that we all learn a great deal from the contributions that students make in class. I’m not shy about sharing my views or answering questions so I make an effort to, especially if others seem reluctant. However, I’m aware of how often I speak and make a conscious effort to allow others the opportunity.
Getting Smart. “20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network.” January 17, 2013.