As I move from collecting blogs to actually writing one, I am fighting the debilitating sensation of being utterly overwhelmed by all the information out there.  So many wonderful, useful, full-of-even-more-fascinating-links blogs, twitter, personal learning networks (PLN’s), new software, new technology.  Yikes!  I want to learn it all and do it all and use it all, but even more than that I want to just climb into bed and pull the covers over my head.

However, a moment of calm and stillness has arisen thanks to the voice of sanity in a new blog I just discovered. Although the title of the blog, “Teacher Challenges,” does not sound particularly calming, the post on starting your own PLN, written by Sarah Poling, delivered some much needed encouragement and reassurance.  I love her description of herself as “a digital immigrant teaching digital natives” which is a perfect way to describe me and most of my peers in college reading and writing at my university.  She preaches starting small, and her tips for starting a PLN  are so encouraging.  This list is going to be a part of everything new I want to learn and be and do:

1.  “Learning Styles and Personal Preferences.” Pay attention to your learning style, your preferences and zones of comfort.  You don’t have to do everything – start where you are most comfortable, and grow from there.

2.  “Set a goal.”  She sent herself a note on futureme.org.  What is that?  Another site to explore (stay excited but calm, dear.)

3.  “Set a routine.”  Right now I have a lovely routine: I am working on my blog in the mornings and on the rest of my life in the afternoons, but I wonder what is going to happen when classes start.  Fall is always extremely busy, as we don’t have enough staff to cover our classes, I am the department chair and have to hire and supervise woefully underpaid and often under-qualified call staff plus teach too many students packed into too many classes….  oops, heading towards overwhelmed again.

4.  “Find resources that help.”  She recommends Google Reader, which has been a game-changer for me – I suddenly have all the interesting and encouraging and useful blogs I want to follow in one place.  And I am going to explore another site she recommends, livebinder, to collect resources I hope to use.  It looks easy, and I would LOVE to get a grip on all the fascinating resources I touch once and never see again.

5.  “Decide what works best for you.”  This is where my spirit breathed a sigh of relief.  Relax, pick one thing to do, and don’t worry about the millions of choices I didn’t make.

6.  “Don’t force it.”  Follow others, see what is being done and how people are doing it, and move forward as you can.

Oh, I love this list!  Thank you Sarah!!

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