Open the Door!

Last night I posted the following tweet


This simple message which seems inherent to the thousands of connected educators, both at ISTE and following around the globe, resonated with me throughout the evening.   Why should this thought be novel?  Have ineffectual performance review structures created a Darwinian structure of only the strongest survive?  Has fear of being seen as inadequate caused us to retreat to our silos?  Has the failures that are such an integral part of risk taking become so anxiety laden that innovation can only be done in solitary? Does anyone think this is best for themselves? Their school? Their students?

Closing the door and teaching is not enough.

As we are prepare students for an increasingly collaborative learning and workplace experience, we must model this practice in our own learning and instruction.

Less than a year ago, I was inspired by the words of Alec Couros. In actuality (with no offense intended) it was nothing in particular that he said; rather, the nature in which he shared his thoughts, the way he propped up and shared the members of his PLN, and the way he shared his authentic self, made me realize that I too had become silo-ed.  While our collaborative and learning culture in our school was/is robust, the learning was mostly generated and distributed in and amongst the school.

This past year has been a transformative year for me in terms my own learning and growth.  I have had the great fortune to build my own PLN via Twitter, blogs, conferences, and other avenues.  These fantastic teachers permit me daily to stand on their shoulders and be provoked by their thoughts, moved by their candor during their struggles, and inspired by their visions for the future of their own and their student’s learning.

Every learner benefits from a PLN

This is not meant as an extrovert manifesto.  If you are afraid of heights, I am not recommending starting with sky diving, rather it is a realization that the sum of our thinking and passion is better than the individual components. We must find and cultivate PLNs for our growth.

One of my greatest finds of the past year has been the amazing #blogamonth PLN (History).  This incredible group of diverse (roles, experience, geography) deliver monthly encouragement to blog, comment, and improve via thought provocation, sharing and reflection (I strongly encourage you to check it out and join at  This month’s thought provocation, optional topic is inspired by Jessica Johnson’s (@principalj) recent post Plans to “Sharpen the Saw” this Summer

For me, similar to my tweet that started this post, I sharpen my saw on the whet stone of the incredible members of my PLN.



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