Providing assistance to students in establishing professional networks to prepare them for the future
Before they leave school, students can connect with people who can teach them about careers they want to pursue.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the typical person will hold at least 12 different jobs over the course of their lifetime, many of which are for positions that were unheard of just a few years ago. Being able to move quickly through this brand-new career landscape necessitates having strong professional connections that can assist students in adjusting to life after graduation. Preparing students to build their own professional networks is an essential skill for future success in a world where who you know is just as important as what you know.
A PLN: WHAT IS IT?
Connections we make with other professionals, individuals, or organizations are referred to as personal learning networks (PLNs), or sometimes professional learning communities. These connections can take place in person through our workplace or community, or they can happen online through professional groups and social media. In many ways, we rely on these connections:
-To provide fresh concepts and resources to help us work.
-To collaborate on new ideas as thought partners.
-To continue our work on schedule as accountability partners by following up.
-to seek mentorship and advice when beginning a new career or improving our current work.
As a teacher and education consultant, I constantly rely on my personal PLN to improve my practice, keep up with current trends, and provide moral support in difficult times. It’s also a great way to connect with teachers and schools to find projects that could work together.
How does a good PLN work?
A PLN that is active, changing, and dynamic is strong. It’s more of a dialogue or conversation between members than a static road sign for people passing by; you should share your ideas and perspectives as much as you receive them.
Connecting with people you don’t know yet and who might live in different parts of the world is often necessary for building a PLN that is diverse and resilient. The best PLNs frequently make use of the features of online tools like Twitter and LinkedIn to help you find and reach people who share your goals and interests. By commenting on other people’s posts or posting useful content, you can add your perspective, assist other people, and highlight your unique expertise, skills, and strengths.
Learning has a purpose with PLNS.
Preparing middle and high school students for college and career readiness takes a lot of our time and resources. Preparation for tests or technical training are common examples of this. However, these efforts fall short of the skills that business leaders assert they require from their employees.
Originality and initiative, leadership and social influence, technology use, resilience, and adaptability are among the top job skills on the World Economic Forum’s most recent list. Providing experiences that improve students’ self-management and people skills is essential if we are to truly prepare them for success in the future. something that they can accomplish with the help of a PLN they build and keep up.
I start by having students create a digital portfolio—a personal website—where they can post projects they’ve made in class, reflect on what they’ve learned, and write critical analysis essays using the blog feature. They are able to take their sites with them when they graduate because they are published outside of our school’s LMS. This sense of ownership helps them frame their learning as a way to improve themselves for their own future rather than just to please their teacher, which in turn boosts motivation.
Make use of PLN to set goals.
When developing a PLN, the focus should always be on the future—what abilities and people can assist them in achieving objectives like deciding which college to attend or how to land a job in a particular field. Developing a personal learning network (PLN) can help students think through important details like where they might want to live, what makes them happy, and where they see themselves in ten or twenty years, even though they might not know where to begin with this kind of planning. Students are able to develop the professional and emotional agility necessary to withstand future economic and technological shifts thanks to a robust PLN, which provides them with the opportunity to build that support network in order to grow and develop as learners.
Students can gain a better understanding of how they like to work and what kinds of jobs they might want to have in the future by taking personality tests like Adobe Creative Type and Sparketype, which help them identify their strengths and skills. Students can now start asking, “Who can help me find careers that are a good fit for my strengths and values? What experiences or skills do I need to get hired for those kinds of jobs?” with this new clarity.
Because many of my students have trouble grasping these ideas, I ask them to think of or research a few successful people in careers that they might like, and then I show them their profiles on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Students can look over what they post, see who is in their networks, and, best case scenario, connect with that person through these social networks.
STUDENTS SHOULD BE INVITED TO “TELL THE STORY OF YOU.”
Students can demonstrate to others why they might be a good person to connect with by sharing the story of their learning as well as their strengths, values, and experiences. Students can share their biography, educational background, sample projects, work experiences, and volunteer experiences with the help of online tools like LinkedIn. It’s important to tell their story, especially for young people just starting out. Students can use an online PLN to better define themselves and what they can bring to a larger community.
Encourage students to interact and share their PLNS.
Students can regularly share articles or other resources that relate to their goals with their PLN by creating a content calendar. They can post content that they believe will be insightful or helpful to their online audience. A content calendar might look something like this:
Monday: Discuss a current undertaking.
Wednesday: Share an article about your interests and goals.
Friday: Give a motivational quote.
Be sure to encourage students to comment on other people’s posts and offer their own unique perspectives, which enriches the conversation in a thread. Reposting content created by others enables students to share those concepts with their audience and notifies the original author of their actions, thereby attracting the attention of influential individuals and fostering more connections.
It is crucial to assist students in developing the resilience necessary to continue their education outside of the classroom, preparing them for rapid workplace change, and connecting their education to personal objectives. A great way to accomplish this is by assisting students in creating a PLN.