I love my PLN, but social media can be tricky. To help me make sense of the overwhelming amount of resources, promote positive interactions within my networks, and stay true to myself, I've established three ground rules for using social media: connect, reflect, and self-respect.
Using social media (especially Twitter) feels a little like going to the playground by myself when I was a kid. It always took a lot of courage for me to go up to someone new and say hi, but once I did it was usually a lot of fun. It's not always easy to tell someone you've never met that you think they are doing great things or that they have greatly influenced your work, but it's up to us to promote creativity and innovation in our field. The more educators recognize each others' achievements, the more we will advance our profession. The same goes for conferences and meet-ups. A simple smile, hello, and genuine compliment can go a long way. Plus, you never know what might happen as a result.
There are a lot of people doing all sorts of cool things around the world. Before jumping all in to something new, I like to reflect on how I can make it work for me. I am lucky to have a lot of time naturally built into my days where I can think. Some of my best ideas for projects have come from zoning out during an early morning run, daydreaming during my commute, or browsing my Reader feed during evening down time. I also find that it is important to get my thoughts down in a safe place. While I love sticky notes, they usually just get lost. Google Drive and Evernote are my favorite tools for capturing my thoughts because I can access them anywhere and my notes are easy to share with others.
This last one is important, but often forgotten. We are not perfect people, nor are we superhuman. Let's stop beating ourselves up because we think we aren't enough. Because we are. When we start to count someone else's blessings, we begin to lose sight of our own individual path. Good things happen when we realize we have things to offer. Even greater things happen when we start to offer them to others.
I found that these three rules greatly overlap and depend on one another. Remembering to connect, reflect, and self-respect provides me with just the right perspective to make positive contributions to my PLN without compromising myself or getting overwhelmed.