A Connected Teacher’s Balancing Act

Over the past 6 months, I have invested a significant amount of time and effort building my online Personal Learning Network.

In recent times; however, I have come to the gradual (and extremely reluctant) realisation that I need to find a balance in my online interactions.


Attribution: Image from the Daring Librarian.
Image: ‘
PLN_DimSum‘: http://www.flickr.com/photos/43666171@N07/4806404770

This post was written in response to Josh Stumpenhorst’s (@stumpteacher) reflections in “Why I’m Not Following You”.

Too much time online

Twitter & blogs are valuable learning tools, but they can become extremely addictive. I don’t like to admit it, but I’ve been spending way too much time online, and spending too little time having a life.

And I’m not alone. I’m trying to find a balance; trying to put my ‘offline life’ (family, hobbies, and fitness) first. It is just not possible for me to follow 25+ blogs in my Google Reader, and spend 2-3 hours a night online – 7 days a week. 

I already do more professional learning online in a week than most teachers do in a year, but there’s no point wearing myself out. I’m better off curling up with a book, or taking my new camera out for a spin.

So, I may not follow you on Twitter. and I may not read your blog.

Please, don’t be offended or put-off. It’s nothing personal. I’m human.

I can’t read, process, or bookmark EVERY interesting website, blog post, tweet that comes up on my screen, although that hasn’t stopped me trying in my early days.

Finding a balance

I may not be online as often as I used to, but I’ll still be around. I will continue to learn, share and connect – just at a more reasonable, steady pace.

I want to invest my time online talking and collaborating with the real people in my PLN. I don’t want to spend countless hours bookmarking interesting websites and reading too many blog posts. I’ve found friends all over the world, and I’ve been able to tweet-up with a few over lunch.

It is these quality relationships and conversations which underpin the power of my PLN, not its size and scope. It means I don’t have to follow everyone – I follow experts who can put me in touch with other experts – when I need help. This is what it means to be connected.

So, please, if you feel like a chat, give us a shout on Twitter (@mgraffin) or on Skype (mgraffin). I’m a real person too.

7 responses

  1. Oh, the balancing act of a connected life —- actually all of life requires a bit of balancing. I do what I can, when I can. I follow a lot of people on blogs and social networks, but I've learned to manage my time with groups and lists. Some days I have 2 hours….some days I have 10 minutes. You have been quite busy, and I've enjoyed your work. Thanks for this post. It is a great reminder of what is important.

  2. Very well put. I am new at Twitter and PLNs, and your very sound advice is welcome. It has been challenging to keep up, and remembering / listing can be overwhelming. So I try to balance the amt of time online, then head off to do something I enjoy with my favorite people.

  3. I totally concur, Michael. I have been against infojunky-type-of-educator since the beginning of building a PLN. This attitude has often came across as arrogance or overconfidence, but I KNEW my priorities better than others I guess. Do what matters to YOU and what helps you grow as a teacher AND person.@surreallyno

  4. MichaelI feel I could have written this, you echo my thoughts and feelings exactly!! That balance is so important. I am so relieved to find there are people out there that feel the same way. I wonder if we will be able to do it!I think reading blogs, following Twitter etc does have a place, it is honestly where I do my learning. The only thing I find strange is that I follow mainly Australian and American people. One of my goals is to link to other New Zealanders. That said, the grass always seems greener somewhere else!There are some days when I just give a cursory glance at blogs and Twitter. I have an actual real live class in front of me for the most of each day. I am Acting Principal for a term at present. I thought I would have heaps of time for online. Wrong!So here's to balance! Not abstinence!Kathryn

  5. Well, it seems that there's more people dealing with this issue 'out there' than I'd realised. I really must concur with @surreallyno's point that it is important to put YOUR personal priorities – in learning and life, first. As to Kathryn's comment that "she could have written this post" – she most certainly could! I was rather amused reading her blog shortly before I posted this – we do have a lot in common 🙂 To echo Kathryn and others, our PLN is the place where we teachers learn, reflect, connect and collaborate. It makes absolutely no sense for us to deny these opportunities by cart-blanche abstaining from our PLN interactions – it's all about finding a balance. Thankyou for the comments

  6. Hmmm I perhaps have a different problem. As an online student twitter blogs are kind of a bit like my common room. However when I'm teaching full time my output (unsurprisingly drops off). I think PLNs can and do evolve to suit an individual's needs. Another reason for student teachers to blog, easier to build up PLN now while you have (relative) time to do so!

  7. This is actually very true. As a relief teacher, I have had more time than most to engage with my PLN, building wikis, and blogging. The time we invest in building connections is well spent, but as classroom teachers, the amount of time we can allocate does diminish somewhat – as we need to have some semblance of a life outside of work!Getting in early, particularly as a student teacher, is an excellent idea.

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