Find Your Tribe: A Powerful PLN

This post is written by Amy Heavin. She is the principal/lead learner at Ryan Park Elementary School, MSD of Steuben County in Angola, Indiana

Find Your Tribe.

Three simple words, but profound in their call to action. Three words that 6 months ago would not have meant anything to me, but today, are three words I tell other educators that they must fulfill. So what do these three words mean?

For a few years, I have been a connected educator. I have formed my professional learning network (PLN) and continue to let it grow. My PLN is predominantly on Twitter, comprising of a network of passionate educators around the globe, who share ideas and resources. For those educators on Twitter, whether they are active or lurking, they know the power found in this social media platform, and continually build and share within their own network. My PLN is continuous, personalized professional learning, anytime and anywhere I want it. I carve the time daily because it is important to always grow and connect, in addition to soaking in the daily inspiration and positivity.

My goal has always been to grow my PLN, as there are so many amazing educators out there to connect with. During professional conferences, I share my connected journey, the power found within my PLN, and how I continue to build it. I always follow at least 10 new educators each week and participate in at least one education Twitter chat, but many weeks it is more than that. Using the hashtags that interest me, I jump into these weekly chats to meet new people, share ideas, and learn. No matter what chat topic, I always find inspiring educators to learn from and grow with. This pattern of weekly inspiration has made me a better educator.

But, then something changed.

Through my exploration of different hashtags, I found a group of educators who pushed me more than before. It was a weekly chat, like most others, but the questions were different, and the conversation was philosophically profound for me. I had not followed most of the educators in this group very long. In fact, I met most of the for the first time in this Twitter chat. Once I joined the Voxer chat, I knew I had found a group that would be with me for quite some time. This group, the #leadupchat tribe, has transformed my thinking of not just leadership, but also of the power of connectedness. It is within this hashtag and chat that I have found my tribe.

A connected tribe is my PLN on steroids. Everybody’s tribe will be different. Your tribe will be your go-to group of educators, based on your interests, passions, and areas you would like to grow.

Your connected tribe will:

  • push your thinking
  • share resources and ideas
  • support and uplift your ideas
  • be your daily dose of inspiration, positivity, and humor
  • take you outside your comfort zone in order to grow professionally
  • ask questions that push you to dig deep into your philosophy of education, and
  • share not just professional dialogue, but build relationships on a personal level.

My connected tribe is on Twitter and Voxer. On Twitter, we share resources, blog posts, #CelebrateMonday and #FF shout-outs, and chat during the weekly chat time. We tag each other in photos and share our thinking. We welcome each other into other state Twitter chats we often moderate, adding new dimensions of thinking to the answers that stream through the chat.

Through Voxer, a walkie-talkie app, the #leadupchat tribe has conversations, listening to each other’s voice, sharing pictures of our school and our families, and discussing topics of leadership and instruction. We support one another in all our endeavors, and lean on each other when we need each other’s support. I listen to their ideas and inspiration every morning as I get ready for the day. We validate each other’s thinking, but I also glean new insight from them. Many times, the tribe shares great books they have read, inspiring videos, or other resources that contribute to our growth and learning. More than that, we reach out to each other individually through Voxer as well, having side conversations on related topics, offering support or ideas on a personal level.

All of these educators have transformed my career, making me better than I was the day before, all the while accepting my view points as well. We push each other to become better.

While we have never met face-to-face, I have found educators with whom I have a profound connection with philosophically. When we do finally have the opportunity to meet, there will be no hand-shaking in this group; we will embrace as if we connected as long-lost friends.

A tribe sticks together through thick and thin, supporting one another through it all.

Every educator must have a PLN today. There is no excuse not to anymore. But once you have your PLN, it is time to take it to a new level and find your tribe. Be a part of many Twitter and Voxer chats, learning and growing with the amazing educators in the world. When you find the group that pushes your thinking, supports you personally and professionally, and transforms your philosophy, you have found your tribe. Find the connected tribe that will not just be a dose of inspiration and ideas, but a group of people that will embrace your passion and take it to new heights.
Find your tribe. You will know it when you find it.