A friendly and non-threatening goal for entering the "realm" of PLNs is simply to "Find, follow, and begin engaging online with experts and beginners alike." Now is the time (any time, really) to take some time to develop your network. Below are some great articles in regards to PLNs. Some old stuff. Some new. Take a bite of one or all, and chew on the tidbits they offer.
Why Networks Matter
Why (and How) You Should Create a Personal Learning Network
The What and Why of a Professional Learning Network
5 Reasons Teachers Should create a PLN Now!
My own reflections: My personal learning network has begun with Twitter, as well as my blog (here, duh). I am pausing now to reflect a bit further on how I am using and engaging in this network. Is Twitter right for me? Am I using it as effectively as I should be? Is blogging really for me?
I am finding that while I may peruse Twitter quite often, clicking here and there, maybe re-tweeting or posting my own thoughts to the twitter-sphere, I haven't quite unlocked the secret to "finding friends" on Twitter. I feel a bit like a 1st grader again, looking around the cafeteria for an empty seat, friendly face, or some commonality with a stranger. I do engage in twitter dialogues with a couple colleagues here (at Northbrook HS), but I haven't started any conversations with a "follower" that I hadn't already met face to face. I know people do it. I see it happen all over the network. I watch #engchat happen in real-time, but I have yet to jump into the conversation. I look at the individuals leading those twitter #engchats and think, "How in the world do they have time to spend 8 hours on twitter every day? To tweet with random people every 2 minutes? I could never devote that kind of time or energy to being a part of the dialogue. I suppose I have to stay on the periphery and just watch." The same goes for my blog- sure, I publish. But do I engage with others? The same mentality pervades there: "I don't have the time or energy to do anything else but stand on the periphery and applaud those in the game."
But do I? I wonder if there IS a way to skim the surface of these dialogues, get my feet wet in a bit of twitter chat. I suppose all I can do is try. A 1st grader has to learn to be social some day, might as well be now.
One more thought on PLNs: tumblr is a great network to try out. While I haven't created anything of my own on tumblr, I often look to it for visual inspiration or ideas. A shout-out to my friend and colleague, Mr. Javier Martinez, whose tumblr (click here to access) has often been the source of a last-minute journal topic or inspiration for a writing day. Good stuff right there. Good stuff.