Expanding My Professional Learning Network

It’s been a very long while since I have posted here.  And with that comes a strange feeling of guilt and hesitancy to even begin writing.  (I also noticed going back through previous posts I open with this apologetic tone often.) But as I was debating whether or not to even begin a post something struck me – I was not blogging often and not for the reason I expected.

Blogging is a fabulous tool that, for me, offered a way to articulate my beliefs about education  and my ever-evolving learning stance.  I believe very strongly that to remain a reflective practitioner I must be able to articulate the thinking and intention behind the decisions I make. Blogging was one effective way for me to maintain this accountability to myself and the learners I serve.

But lately I have come to the realization that I am blessed with an ever-expanding professional learning network that is beyond my wildest imagination.  I frequently advise fellow teacher librarians to “find your people” in the school you work in order to avoid the pitfalls of isolating yourself that can occur when you are technically a team of one. But I think I may need to amend that advice.  I would say that I still seek out the like-minded and the keen and the curious who have  become “my people” but, I also have learned to welcome the world into the space I care for and dialogue dialogue dialogue with everyone who will engage.

I could write a separate post about each educator and network opportunity I have embraced this year but for now let me just share this incomplete list:

  • our students (yes – explaining my thinking to students helps me grow each day)
  • our parents and caregivers who ask great questions
  • our fabulous school administration
  • numerous amazing colleagues who work in our building
  • previous administrators, former colleagues and educators who taught my own children
  • the entire @PDSB_Libraries community
  • the PETLA teacher librarian steering committee and participants
  • everyone I interacted with at the @ONLibraryAssoc Superconference
  • the @oslacouncil members I have come to know (in person or via social media)
  • the educators who guide our board’s equity and climate departments @PeelEquity @ClimatePeel
  • the awe-inspiring early years educators including my sister who is a DECE in the board, everyone who contributed their time and knowledge to the Peel Early Years Conference and the fearless @LizUgoEYC
  • the online communities of the #peel21st #peelABC who inspire realtime incredibly fast dialogue, thought-provoking book talks about amazing professional readings and innovative  learning experiences
  • the profoundly helpful @MakerEdTO community
  • the numerous TLs, administrators, instructional coaches and others who have dropped by to visit our evolving space and taken the time to discuss our learning journey (including some from neighbouring boards, one visiting from Italy and most recently one from New Zealand)

This redefining of a professional learning network has offered me more than I ever expected.  It has lovingly forced me to continuously articulate my beliefs as an educator and reflect on whether my daily actions align with these beliefs.  It has inspired me to read more, ask more questions and push my own evolution as an educator. It has very clearly reminded me to LISTEN more and absorb all that I can from the wise, kind, thoughtful, dedicated educators with whom I have the privilege to connect.

So the question for me is how can I help others create their own interconnected professional learning network?

We have all felt alone in our practice and simply closed our classroom doors to hide in our self-doubt.

Perhaps the traditional ideas around professional learning networks have changed for the better (they certainly have for me) but I wonder if everyone feels that way? And moreover I wonder –

How I can expand my network even further to welcome those who might be feeling right now that closing their door is a better option?

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