#TYIW Goal Check – Growing my PLN

I have a secret… I spent a lot of the summer working with teachers to help them understand why and how to grow their PLN, but guess what I was really trying to do?  Yup, you’ve got it… I was testing my own thinking and understanding of the power of Social Media.  Those who know me well, understand that I won’t lead educators down a path if I’m not willing to challenge my own ideas and learn-use-grow as well.

When I agreed to continue developing and teach the online Connected Educator class, I found it a great way to challenge myself to dig deeper into the world of Social Media. I have often wondered how much time people with 50,000+ followers spent developing their connections. I wondered which tools would best fit my needs and by increasing my exposure to and through Social Media, would I be able to make some connections that I didn’t have before.

Boy, was I in for an eye opening experience!  To force personal reflection, I took a screen shot of my progress each Monday this summer to keep track of:Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 11.00.41 AM

  • How many tweets and photos I shared
  • How many people I was following
  • How many people were following me
  • How many tweets I had favorited

Sidebar – as I went to write this post today at the end of my first #TYIW goal report, I am sickened to note that my Mac Notes have become corrupt and my week-by-week screenshots?  GONE… I might have said a few choice words, BUT then I figure there has to be something somewhere that shows my progress other than just my lost weekly screenshots.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 11.04.02 AMTurns out, Twitter shares analytics (See? I learned something new out of my ‘disaster’).  Now I need to read up on the Analytics and figure out exactly how much I want to turn on. Anyone have thoughts on this?

I was interested in where I started and how far I “reach” in regards to this social tool. Remember when I said I need to walk the walk first? Well, as you can tell, I am still in the learning phase of Twitter. I firmly believe that everyone (adults included) learn at their own pace and once you find a reason to use Twitter (personally, professionally, or in the classroom) that is when it becomes relevant and the time spent in this environment is paid back in connections and learning what you want, when you want.

So, let’s take a look at my journey over the past 12 months and see what we can pull from the data about my online behaviors. Note, Twitter tells me that 58% of my followers are female while 42% are male.  
(Pixlr was used in the image below to combine four screenshots.) 

Twitter Results over the past year


  • “More followers” isn’t the end game. I personally feel there is a correlation between followers and increased time and engagement in the environment. As I was becoming more comfortable with Twitter, I started reaching out to others through mentions and replies. As this occurred, my satisfaction with the environment increased and became an important reason I continue to want to stay connected.
  • A year ago, I had 330 followers and now am over 1,000 – in order to build a network, it takes some dedication to the environment. I started trying to practice Tech 10 meaning 10 minutes a day on Twitter as an effort to at least read and post three things a day.  Sometimes it is less, sometimes it is more.
  • This summer I really focused on Twitter as I was spending time working with the Connected Educator and the stats reflect a higher rate of growth in the past three months. If you can find a meaningful reason to keep Twitter in your daily work, you will tend to grow your PLN faster.
  • Get ready for the ‘wow-factor’! Quite frankly, having an educational expert notice your tweet and engage in a conversation is really exciting! I’m not going to lie, sometimes I geek out when I engage with heavy hitters in a Twitter chat, and I might even have been known keep a screenshot or Favorite such interactions to remind myself that ANYONE can reach out to experts and you just might hear back! It is my quiet “I matter” bucket filler. Hmm… Does this peak your interest in thinking about Twitter as an authentic motivation platform for students?

So what is my post trying to get you to do?

  1. Challenge yourself to write down your PLN growth goal.
  2. Take 10 minutes each day to read a post, article, or take a picture of student work. Create a Tweet and add your personality to the content.
  3. Try to keep your post to 115 characters or less – saving at least 25 characters to allow people to easily retweet without having to modify content.
  4. Share your Tweet with up to three hashtags – try using one district hashtag and at least one that reaches a more global audience. 
  5. Resist the urge to always blind retweet. Refer to Goal 2 about adding your personality and let people know what YOU are thinking! 

I was shocked at the engagement Twitter has allowed me in conversation with educators and now that I have had that experience I refuse to go back. My next quarter goal is to continue creating and posting authentic content while seeking out and engaging in more hashtag conversations. Over the next month, I’m looking to increase the people I’m following (educators and business leaders) that can help us develop our ideas around innovation and disrupting education. This month will be mostly about Use and Grow. If you have suggestions of people or hashtags that are must follows, I would love to hear them. I can’t wait to see what progress I make!

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