I am sort of a newbie to the whole PLN thing, though I do admittingly have a twitter coach that will work for ed tech help, I also have an access point to unlimited awesome that I want to celebrate during the closing hours of 2013
Prologue: How I got here
During college I took a job during the summers (2000) as a "Door-to-Door Salesman" selling books to help parents help kids with homework. Here are the details I knew when I signed up.
Where? Somewhere on the East Coast.
With whom? Three other roommates TBD, maybe from your university (San Diego State), maybe not.
Where will we find a place to live? You will have a day and a half to find a place, usually knocking on doors, look for places with extra rooms/or a finished basement.
How much do I make? Depends on how much you sell, maybe nothing, it's 100% commission.
It was a challenging and grit building summer and I stayed on for another two years (the final two I actually made some decent money and ended up the proud owner of a sweet 1982 cream colored Dodge Diplomat ($400.00 out the door...actually "off the front lawn"). What I didn't expect to gain was the relationship capital I built in those years.
I unknowingly stepped into a network full of people that would say "Yes" to the insanely vague/challenging conditions outlined above. I lucked into that network more on ignorance/stupidity than my own bravery and confidence. However I was fortunate enough to surround myself with people who taught me what it means to be confident, to have true grit, and embody the "Do-it-now-never-stop-attitude" that I carry (try to) with me to this day.
Before Twitter, Facebook, and social media, I walked into a pre-existing #Bad@$$ PLN that was waiting for me to say "yes". The context of the company served as a filter that insured an "Awesome Members Only" experience...and it was.
What is your filter?: A play in one act
Building a PLN is hard, like a garden, one has to nurture it before it will yield fruit. It's probably the biggest reason we have so many educators still working in relative isolation every day. For my first two years of teaching I did the same, grinding away at my job and doing a good job of it, but paying a cost that was unsustainable. Though I didn't know it at the time, I needed a ready-built PLN to plug into, share ideas, and be invigorated, like the one I found myself in during college.
And now the "Self Serving" Part.
By chance/luck/divine intervention I happened upon our local CUE affiliate with the promise to move faster that my current district OS would allow. Frustrated by constant road blocks to my ideas, I jumped at the chance to:
1. Work really hard
2. Work for free
3. Work on things that matter to me
4. Have a great time doing it.
4 years later I still work for CUE and am especially fulfilled by my recent efforts to connect with other affiliates more. CUE affiliates up and down CA are full of people who think that items 1-3 ALWAYS lead to number 4. Our commander and chief even brands himself as a maverick in what I believe is a reminder to the rest of CUE as to how we should be thinking! The people that truly work to make their affiliates happen are ALL awesome, supportive, and innovative people that want to connect and share ideas. I have made the final half of 2013 a personal mission to spread the gospel of CUE around the North Bay Area offering only the following promise:
"I can guarantee you get to take on a lot of extra work, while helping other educators, be paid nothing, and have a great time doing it!".
It turns out there are tons of people waiting for the chance to say "Yes" this experience:
Ali Deguia, Amy Fadeji, Tracy Walker, Catina Haugen, Ashley Williams, Jennie Snydar, Bob Raines, Emily Dunnegan, Jenny Derby, Sarah Fountain, Mark Picketts, James Fester, Eric Saibel, Katy Foster, Adam Welcome, Megan Cusimano, Mary Jane Burke, Raquel Rose, Michele Dawson, Mario Piombo, Rick Phalan, Dan Exelby, Jens Holstebro, the folks at FrontRow.etc.
CUE is a filter for awesome people all waiting for more to join. So if this sounds like you, drop in on your areas next CUE event and chat up some organizers, we are all "yes" people, and love to grow the working body of CUE.
Or just follow @northbaycue and chat us up on twitter.
Prologue: a Serious Note and Rock Star Camps were built with people like you in mind.
This post was born out of a reconnection with a work college that is a very close "though partner" of mine. We started teaching at the same time, with similar values, at the same school, yet somehow landed in opposite worlds. My department was experimenting and supporting, his department maintained the status quo. While I spent 4 years endeavoring with grading and assessment for open mindset, he had all his assessments written for him by the district and had strict pacing calendars. He taught the hardest populations on campus, I taught a beautiful heterogenous mix of students who were in APchem the year before with students who failed algebra I twice.
We went out for drinks the other night and I was saddened to learn that this teacher will be leaving the school and probably the district by choice, due to shear discontent, lack of local intellectual support and even criticism from his peers. This is a great teacher, walking away from his school and its culture. #PLNmatter, big time!
If any part of this post rings true in your ear please join the following instant communities of awesome that is CUE Rock Star Teacher Camps. CUE is offering a special edition camp in the beautiful Napa Valley on Feb 14th - 16th and if you love the idea of learning all day in small groups with people just like you, I will see you there!