Next, to assess my own PLN, I mapped it out (to the best of my ability - I'm sure there are things I am missing that will be added throughout the year!). Please view my PLN below. (Click the image to make it larger!)
To map my PLN, I used an online tool called Bubbl.us, which allows you to create 3 mind maps if you sign up for a free account. It was extremely user-friendly; the only complaint I have is that without purchasing an upgraded account, I was unable to add links or attachments within my bubbles. However, this was still a great tool and one that I plan to use again in the future. I liked how I was able to drag my bubbles wherever I wanted them and change their colors to aid in the organization of the map.
My first reaction to this map was that I was surprised at all of the ways I learn as an educator! I couldn't even put all of my resources and connections on this map! While some of the resources are more influential than others (for example, my schoolwork takes up a large majority of my time right now), each node on this map has taught me a valuable lesson and affected me as a teacher.
That being said, there are also ways that I could expand my PLN. I have outlined three ways I would like to continue to grow my PLN:
One way that I would like to expand my network is to socialize more when I take part in professional development opportunities. I enjoy attending conferences and workshops, especially those that UNI students can attend for free. However, I tend to keep to myself at these events. I can easily grow my PLN by networking with the other educators who attend these conferences and making sure to connect with them via social media. I would like to do this at the upcoming annual conferences UNI will offer this year, including the Elementary Literacy Conference, the African American Children and Families Conference, and the Educating Educators Conference.
Another way I would like to grow my PLN is to connect with more education professionals and resources specific to Iowa. I plan to live and teach in Iowa long-term; that is the reason why I chose to complete my student teaching in Iowa as opposed to going out of state or abroad. I would like to learn more about "who's-who" in the Iowa schools and connect with them on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Blogger. Additionally, I would like to follow more educational resources specific to our state; I follow Grant Wood AEA on Twitter, but that's the extent of my specific Iowan resources. My goal is to research and reach out to those individuals and resources and have 10 new connections before the end of the semester.
Lastly, I'd like to get more involved with podcasts. I have podcasts loaded on my phone and planned to listen to them when I went running, but I usually run in the rec center and it's so loud that it's hard to hear. Therefore, I haven't been listening to them as much as I'd like. In the future, I want to not only investigate and find more podcasts to follow, but also actually listen to these resources. My goal is to listen to one podcast a week and follow two more podcasts before the end of the semester.
Do you have any ideas about how I could expand my PLN? Please feel free to give me recommendations in the comments!