Developing Strong Relationships with Your PLN

Dear Reader,

You may be sick of hearing me talk about the merits of a Personal Learning Network (PLN)! However, if this is the one piece of advice I can leave you with this summer, then I feel I have significantly contributed to your professional development. Recently, one of my connections led to being a guest blogger for Burcu Akyol‘s Spread Your Knowledge Series! Burcu has entered the realm of friendship even though she lives in Turkey and I live in Germany. How is this possible? The answer is not 42 in this case, but social networking and collaboration on several projects.

Although, Burcu and I have only known each other for three months we have accomplished quite a bit in the education arena. I would venture to say that many would agree that we have added significantly to their projects. The reason is due to our dedication to put our intelligence and energy together to incite change. Burcu has jumped in wholeheartedly in ventures I support or have initiated and I believe I have done the same with projects she has supported and initiated.

How did I meet Burcu? Several of my closest connections started on Twitter and this is what my guest post on her blog this week is about! Please click here to read and comment on the blog post. I met Burcu through Twitter but our relationship stems from participation in Karenne Sylvester‘s BELTFree Ning, the One Comment a Day Ning, and the SLife is Life Ning. Burcu has also joined me in several Second Life field trips like in our picture below! Second Life has really given us the opportunity to get to know each other. You know a person by their willingness to travel to interesting places or what they decide to do at these places. I have observed that Burcu is adventurous and courageous. She is willing to explore new ideas and has a great sense of humor. Many might think that her continuous dedication to her teaching, blogging, moderating student blogs, presenting, and interviewing for magazines would have her stressed. However, I have yet to see her less than enthused and happy. This is the kind of  relationship you want to establish with members of your PLN. Are you ready to take the next step and collaborate for change?

English Teacher, Me, & Burcu in Second Life at the upside down house
Aniya, Me, & Burcu in Second Life at the upside down house

If you are ready to establish relationships, then you may consider joining the SLife is Life Ning. We continuously educate teachers on the use of Second Life for educational purposes. Every week, Aniya (the English Teacher) and I host a free Newbie Teacher Second Life Field Trip for those who want a guide into the strange virtual world! Join our Ning to keep updated with events!

Visit Second Life’s Life


Involve yourself in one of the projects on a Ning group you belong to or come to one of our weekly Second Life teacher orientations.

Would you like to share your collaboration anecdote? Please contact me to be a guest blogger on Teacher Reboot Camp or if you are interested in having a Second Life mentor!

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.

12 thoughts on “Developing Strong Relationships with Your PLN

  1. Great topic, Shelly!

    I’ve been blogging in isolation for years, and in the last few months I’ve started to get involved with a couple of Ning groups (including BELTFree) and it has really been great. I’ve been learning a lot from other teachers, and I’ve also found myself more inspired to blog.

    I keep hearing all these great things about Second Life, too. One of these days…

    Take care,

    1. Dave,

      Without my PLN and involvement in their projects my learning and blog would be quite lacking. You hit the jack pot by saying the PLN inspires you to blog!

      Happy Birthday!

  2. Wow Shelly! I’m really flattered! I feel like I have known you for ages although we met just a few months ago. This must be the power of Twitter and our enthusiasm to share and spread our knowledge which we will never lose:-)

    We are very lucky that we have that vibrant and creative community of ELT professionals and educators from different branches on Twitter. Belonging to this community doubles my enthusiasm and energy, and boosts my creativity.

    Although I cannot spend as much time as you can do in Second Life, I have great time there. When I settle down in my new job, I’ll be joining you more frequently. Btw I wonder how I could manage to move at that upside down house!:-))

    I’m very happy to have met you and looking forward to the IATEFL conference to meet you f2f. It is gonna be GREAT!


  3. Here in Mexico, lack of in service training means that it really is up to teachers to take responsibility for their own professional development. We need posts like this one and the guest posts on Burcu’s blog to keep us up to date. There’s absolutely no chance that we’re sick of hearing about PLNs, uses óf Twitter, web 2.0 in the classroom etc. On the contrary, lease keep the posts coming.

    1. Mark,

      It is quite fascinating to me how we learn from each other across continents. Your comment really made my day to hear that my blog was read in Mexico. I think it is wonderful to hear about the teachers’ efforts there to dedicate their own time to professional development. If your group needs to know information or set-up discussion on any topic or educational technology please let me know. Burcu and I will set our heads together to make it happen! We have Spanish speaking friends who could help as well!

  4. Thank you for this post, Shelly.
    It’s fascinating to read personal accounts of people who are happy sharing and don’t want to pretend that they are the guardians of the holy grail of knowledge. People like you and Burcu, and the lonely bloggers like Dave above started a transition which has lead to people like Mike and me ask for more.
    I remember days when older teachers were carefully guarding their yellowing notes from the newbies who had no support whatsoever, and were predestined to become like their predecessors.
    Now the situation has changed and you are there as well as the thousands of educators who at last understand that education is not the turf war of pitiful egos but the common ground to learn to support, and to support to learn.
    Thanks again.

    1. Tamas,
      Thank you for your inspiring comment! I believe teachers are beginning to realize that unless we step in and produce real change then world problems will continue to exist. Social media has really ignited the exchanging of ideas and collaboration that is occurring among educators. Additionally, I think educators are realizing that if the schools are not going to provide the access to materials or training then we have to seek to gain the training and resources for ourselves. We cannot afford to be stingy with “notes” plus that limits our own learning and impact on educational community.

  5. Thanks for this post Shelly.

    I think it’s great to be surrounded by peers that encourage each other totake it to the next level. I’m still learning but it’s good to know that I’m not alone.

    Also every time I see pictures of people in second life it makes me want to go out and get a new computer. I’m afraid my 5 year old laptop would roll over and die if I put anymore stress on it. It looks like a lot of fun. I’d like to join you some day.

  6. hello Shelly,
    I’m a TESOL professional over in Taiwan. Found you through my wanderings in Jane’s elgg network. Can’t wait to see you and your crew in Second Life. I have an account, but lack the computing power/connection to properly enjoy it yet. Will search for you once I get up to speed! Cheers,

    1. Bryan,

      We will be more than happy for you to join us in Second Life! Hopefully you can have your computer up by Saturday, August 28th. We have a huge birthday bash for Aniya, @theEngTeacher! It will be more of a social event but many teachers should be there!
      Jane’s network is amazing.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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