Back in February of 2009, through a mention on the A Year of Reading blog I learned of and joined the Elementary Teachers group on the English Companion Ning. What's a ning? A ning is an online social networking tool where members can post questions, replies, and share resources. Teachers in the Elementary Teachers group were using the ning to ask questions about teaching poetry, seeking recommendations for persuasive mentor texts, and other literacy-related issues.
At that time, many educators in my PLN were talking about the NCTE's 21st Century Literacies. However, most were talking about what these new literacies would look like at a secondary level. So I posted a question to the ning asking what they would look like at an elementary level. As the discussion began and I shared my own thinking two mind-blowing things happened. First, after mentioning a Choice Literacy article in my response the author of the article replied to my comment within the ning and shared her thinking. (I still remember running to my wife after receiving the reply saying, "can you believe this?") Second, because I had linked to a post on my personal teaching blog that I had made public the prior month, the first comment that was ever left on my blog was from a kindergarten teacher in Australia.
The power of professional social networking was made clear to me in these two experiences. By being willing to be vulnerable and express that I don't have all of the answers, I was able to learn alongside others around the globe that were asking the same questions.
[Cross-posted on ZPS 1:1 - Transforming Learning]