Friday, January 29, 2016

PLN Journal Week 1: PLNs, Simplicity, and Serendipity, Too

This week, I started my spring semester in San Jose State University's Teacher Librarian Credential and Master of Library and Information Science program. It was just one year ago that I began the program, and I now find myself a little more than halfway through.

Included in my course load this semester is INFO 233 "School Library Media Centers" co-taught by Dr. Mary Ann Harlan and Shelly Buchanan. Throughout the course, we students are being challenged to develop and nurture our Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) and then journal about our experiences on a weekly basis. My plan is to use this blog space to record my journey.

As this is the kickoff week, my professors provided various background resources about PLNs to inform and inspire us. One takeaway that I enjoyed was the "How to grow a PLN" drawing created by Jacques Cool and Sylvia Duckworth, who generously offer it for open sharing.

A point that stood out to me was the advice to "curate your newly found resources." This resonated with me since I am concerned about finding ways to hone my PLN purposefully as it grows. It is so easy for me to become inundated with information and opportunities, and so my goal is to mindfully choose how I spend my time and attention. I strive to remain open and inviting while taking on only what I can realistically manage and that will have the most meaningful impact.

Writing this evening, the theme of simplicity is particularly fresh in my mind. It started this morning when I was browsing Facebook as I got ready for work and came across - and "liked" - the post below by Parker Palmer.

Mary Oliver’s nature poems are often pastoral and inspiring. But as an honest observer of nature, she knows that the...
Posted by Parker J. Palmer on Friday, January 29, 2016

I have been following Parker Palmer as part of my personal learning network ever since I connected with his work via one of my favorite blogs: On Being. Palmer's post from this morning resonated with me doubly since it references a poem by Mary Oliver, whose work I also admire.

Fast forward to my workday. An English teacher colleague and friend called me about a research project that his students are working on, and while talking, he mentioned noticing that I had liked Palmer's Facebook post. He explained how the beautiful reflection on simplicity complements well his work as The Zen Teacher!

This happenstance validated some other advice from the "growing" drawing: "Follow the stream of your PLN to drink new discoveries and to experience moments of serendipity." I love both the sound and meaning of the word serendipity, and I feel as though my Parker Palmer / Mary Oliver / The Zen Teacher experience from this morning was serendipitous indeed. To me, it exemplified how powerful "learning networks" may be when they function organically.

As I continue my PLN exploration, I hope to maintain a natural balance of sorts. I endeavor to keep my PLN simple and intentional enough so that it does not overwhelm and drown me. At the same time, I want to allow it to be rich and fresh enough to nourish me and support the making of ever more serendipitous discoveries and connections. Off to ride the stream!