The road to creating your Personal (Professional) Learning Network…should you take the time?

(Originally posted September 19, 2017)
There were times, as a classroom teacher, that I felt alone…left on my own to try to improve the things I was doing, make changes or to find new and better resources to share with my students.  Then I discovered Twitter…and Pinterest….and Instagram…and Google+…and Bloglovin…  These resources provided me the ability to connect with other teachers (and other innovators) and gain a window into their worlds, which in many cases weren’t so different than mine.
When I first started using Twitter, I have to admit, I was a lurker. I found more and more people to follow, and did just that-follow.  As my comfort level grew, I began to Tweet to other people and share my own ideas. When I started engaging, and the more exciting part-when people engaged with me, I felt like I was part of something that was bigger than me.  It made me feel connected.  There are so many talented people doing extraordinary things to help students become more engaged, and therefore more successful in their schooling, and these online tools enable us all to collaborate and share.
Once I got comfortable using Twitter, I wanted more! I branched out and started to use Pinterest. Well, if this wasn’t like opening Pandora’s box! I was like a kid in a candy store! Although I don’t find myself interacting with people that much on Pinterest, it has provided me with so many valuable resources.  It is through Pinterest, that I found more people to follow on Twitter and also peeled back another layer of the #EdTech onion-BLOGS!  I am amazed at all the valuable information that people share on their blogs.
How do you keep up/keep track of all the blogs you want to follow? That is the question that led me to Bloglovin.  Bloglovin is a great way to keep all the blogs you want to follow in one place and stay up to date with any new posts that are made to them.
I recently went through the training to become Google Education Certified for Levels 1 & 2. Although I had used many features of the Google Suite for a number years, the certification led me down some paths that I never thought to travel or would find useful. One of those paths was Google+. Who knew there was a whole other Google world out there where people with similar interests could join together and share ideas?!  Although I have just started to dip my toe into these waters, I can see how it can be very beneficial to me in my new role.
As I said in my first blog post, I am beginning this year in a new position as a Secondary Educational Technology Coach.  There is only one other person in my district doing the same job, at the elementary level.  This is why I started thinking about this topic.  I knew there had to be other people out there doing the same job as I am. The trick was finding them and tapping into their expertise.  I feel that taking the time to start to build a PLN for myself will not only benefit me but also the teachers that I work with in my district.
Have you created a PLN? Where do you look to tap into information to help you grow professionally?