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Today I want to talk about the value of PLCs and PLNs. But, first, you might be wondering if they are the same thing or not.

According to the Education Reform Glossary “A professional learning community, or PLC, is a group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students.” I tend to think of these as more site-based, like a campus or district PLC that is focusing on increasing student achievement. It is a site based group of educators all working with the same group of students.

Maybe you have a PLC in your school district where all of the librarians gather together and focus on improving what they do as librarians to increase student achievement. Or maybe you as the librarian join a grade level or department of teachers who are working on a specific state standard their students are weak in.

Then, we have PLNs. Schoology describes “A personal learning network (PLN) is a group of colleagues, mentors, and professionals that you connect with to enhance your own personal learning and take charge of your own professional development.” Interestingly enough you will see a lot of PLNs develop through social media connections. These people bond over passions or shared topics of interest. They start brainstorming together and talking about things they are working through individually. They help each other problem solve and see different perspectives. They spur each other on and say things like - LET’S DO IT! - after they get excited about some ideas they shared and challenged each other to bring the idea to life.

An example of a PLN is the RGV Library Squad that initially met through social media channels and eventually met face to face at a conference. They now have their own PLN social media channels where they host Twitter chats and Facebook discussions and they recently even hosted their first online conference #RGVLibCamp for others to attend for free. They learn so much from each other and want to bring as many people as possible along for the ride with them.

Do you have a PLN? Do you have a team of fellow librarians who urge you on to greatness? Each week, I introduce you to a different librarian in my podcast. These librarians are sharing tips with you and then offering their own social media account names so you can connect with them.

There is an army of librarians around the world who are waiting to connect with YOU! They need your opinions. They need your ideas. And you need them! If you are new to the idea of PLNs, these people will take you under their wings. They want to help you grow professionally. They know that when you grow, they will grow also. So if you are nervous, you can always simply join groups and lay low for a while. We usually call that lurking. You follow them and say nothing until you’re ready.

So, I challenge you this week, find at least one person to connect with professionally. Scan the blog and podcast pages to see who you might connect with. If you want a little more help, I’ll recommend starting with the founding members of the RGV Library Squad. They have all been in the podcast before. So you can listen to their interviews and see if you connect with any of them.

Dr. Laura

Have you met this week's Librarian Influencer? Robin Spencer, a Texas librarian. She’s known since 3rd grade that she wanted to be a school librarian. She has 15 years of experience working at the same elementary school as their librarian. Click here to listen to her interview now.

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