This past weekend, I had the pleasure of employing some spring cleaning techniques with my oldest son in my father’s yard. Nothing felt better than three generations pulling out the rakes, tightening the trimmers, and firing up the John Deere to tackle the task of cleaning up the yard in preparation for summer. We picked up a plethora of sticks fallen by winter winds, raked patches of grass ravaged by grubs, and trimmed low-hanging branches weighted down by an abundance of unchecked-growth. As we dove into our work, I could not help but soak in the smells of spring and think about how good it felt to be outside and clean-up, preparing for future growth and the summertime yard care that would be so much easier with a little up-front lift.
The tasks associated with spring-cleaning my father’s yard inspired me to think about my own PLN and whether or not I have been tending to my connections the way I should. I realized that the “spring cleaning” we were accomplishing could easily translate into some easy actions to be ready for a season of stronger collaboration and support among my personal and professional learning network partners. Being inspired, here is how I accomplished some spring cleaning:
Pick up the Sticks. Sticks are not necessarily a nuisance, but more of a reminder that life is ever-changing and growing. I went through the lists of those I follow on social media and discovered colleagues who had not posted for several years. Maybe they switched positions. Perhaps they lost interest in connecting. Quite possibly, they found another outlet to share and connect. In any case, I cleaned them out. There was no remorse, no judgment. Just a thank you for reminding me that at one time they had helped me by being a part of my growing network. Have you taken stock of your connections lately?
Prune the Branches. Sometimes it is necessary to cut branches that are no longer producing in order to provide space for others to grow. Sometimes pruning a branch causes it to push and produce more. Some of my followers and those I follow had not posted or connected within the past several months. For those folks, I did a little “pruning.” I reached out, tagged them in a post, or messaged them directly. I checked in. Perhaps they will engage; maybe they won’t. In either case, I am testing the branches to see where I may need to do some pruning. Have you reached out and connected virtually with someone you may not have interacted with in recent months? Have you liked one of their Tweets, commented on a blog post, asked for guidance, updated your newsfeed?
Till the Soil. Turning up the soil and preparing it for planting is refreshing and invigorating. It provides the opportunity to break up layers that may have become to solid and release nutrients to provision new growth. I recently did a little “tilling the soil” by connecting with two important members of my PLN, Randy Ziegenfuss and Tom Murray. Both are inspiring educational leaders who push my thinking and provide me different lenses to view important life, career and educational topics. Spending some face-to-face time with important members of my virtual learning network reminded me of the importance of working the soil and getting it ready for fresh and new ideas. Have you reached out to meet face-to-face with one of your PLN? Has one of your PLN taken on a new position and have you checked-in with them to see how it is going?
Plant Something New. Once the soil is tilled, it ready for seeds or new plants. Watching a seed break through the earth or a freshly placed plant take root and spread are simple yet inspiring to anyone who embraces the spread of spring. For me, I found CPRE Knowledge Hub and have firmly planted it within my learning network. It is in a nascent stage, but like a seed or a yet-to-bloom, I can see the amazing color and life it will bring to my PLN and practice. But like any newly planted seed or sapling, it will need watering, sunlight and tending– much like any PLN relationship. What are some new avenues or outlets you could explore? What are some new connections that would bring new life and the brightness of spring to your on-line connections? How will you tend to new PLN connections you make?
Spring is upon us and summer is right around the corner! How are you accomplishing some spring cleaning in terms of your learning networks?