Personal Learning

Double Down on Your PLN: Revisit, Reflect, and Re-frame Bet 20

“If I took my connectivity out of the equation of who I am, I would probably understand how much more I really can do as a human and be what I need to be for people in my life. I feel that I have been so incredibly blessed to be a connected educator and appreciate how it has helped me both professionally and personally with the friendships that I have acquired.  In turn,  I now know that other parts of my life have taken a hit because of it.”

This was something that I shared with my friend, Rachelle Dean-Poth, as we voxed back and forth one-day last week. I was flying solo on my 3rd walk of the day while camping. Rachelle and I weren’t engrossed in a conversation of learning, this was simply a moment of missing a friend. One that I have been blessed to have in my world for the past several years. We were talking about all that we love about everything we do. We spoke about how we miss many conversations that we used to find ourselves in on a daily basis, but that the reality is that there simply are not enough hours in a day. It came down to one point… if we use too many of our hours being connected we will miss out on what is right in front of us. In the midst of our conversation, I literally stopped and said, “You know, I should blog about this!”  Ha! Well, here I am!   


As I continue to revisit and reflect on bets (chapters) that Jacie and I wrote in our book, “All In: Taking a Gamble in Education,”  I turn my attention to Bet 20: “Double Down on Your PLN.” In this bet, we reminded our readers how social media can transform relationships and connect you with a network of educators to provide support and inspiration.  We asked our readers to share what inspiration they found outside of their personal school district that has helped them to move forward. Our Double Down at the end of the bet prompted each reader to ask themselves… what is one way you can contribute, in place of consuming? It is my time to revisit, reflect, and re-frame this Bet, and I challenge each of you to do the same.

CALL TO ACTION: As a connected educator, OWN your part as a leader for every child and contribute what you have learned through your PLN without giving up your own identity and balanced existence


One of the biggest gifts I have been given is my incredible PLN.  No buts about it.  The one thing that I have learned is that by surrounding myself with those that are incredibly passionate about the same things in life as myself, I have grown beyond anything I have ever imagined!  With that has come something else that I have learned… when I am contributing all that I have gained, at times I knock myself off balance from the world that I share with my family.  This is where I re-frame my accountability in how and when I use my social media, not to mention how and when I connect with the most incredible friends and passionate educators that have truly blessed my world.  I don’t believe there is a one size fits all approach, but for me, I have learned to navigate this in a different way over time.

Did you ever have someone say they love how your friendship can pick up where you left off? Whether it is a week or even a month, we don’t look back thinking of “what we missed”, but in turn, we live in the moment and look forward to “what can be!” No apologies, just welcoming arms. These are the people within my PLN/PLF that I find to get the most out of what I can humanly offer.  We learn great amounts from one another. We take that information to create a better tomorrow for every child, but we do not hold the other to an obligation of connecting continuously. Let’s face it, now that we are truly connected educators we have blended “colleague status”/acquaintances with friendships that we are wired to give more attention to… so where do we go from here? Let’s get back to the roots of why being a connected educator is so important to you, your students, colleagues, and community.  

For me, a connected educator means (not in order of importance, simply a list of impact):

-A constant support system (that is a give and take)

-Embraced risk-taking and disruption

-The constructive push-back that propels me forward

-Learning with a diverse PLN (Professional Learning Network)

-Leading beyond the four walls of my own existence

-Kindness connections that nurture my soul

-Joyful Leaders that remind me that my heart can impact the same as my brain

-The laughter that comes with endless conversations

To Be Better Than My Yesterday!

(graphic created and posted in 2018)

Being better than my yesterday has been my mantra since I was a child. Keeping my focus on a “me vs me” mentality and limiting my comparison to others has helped me to grow. What I am humanly capable of looks different from week to week, but for me, I must prioritize and keep focus… I challenge you to do the same!  

  1. Family First Always
  2. Self Care/Well-Being (#1-2 are the same level of importance… the analogy of putting your mask on before trying to save others always stops me in my tracks)
  3. Friendships
  4. Learning and Growing/Social Media
  5. Contributing in all ways possible!/Social Media

If I truly want to Re-frame this Bet and take this CALL TO ACTION and live it, I must first keep numbers one and two on my list in balance.  From there, anything is possible! 

Personal Learning

Boost Your Self-Care Package

I decided that I needed a little boost before I head on vacation so that I can truly relax and soak it all in with my family. I stopped to think what that really meant to me and was surprised at how quickly I was able to figure it out. Self-care is not a foreign concept to me , as I have been empowered by it from an early age. The mere idea of taking a walk by myself to allow for my thoughts to escape me has and always will be a part of the “Kristen Self-Care Package”. As I have aged, I find myself exploring new ways to boost myself in order to balance new responsibility. Simply stated, I am always open for new innovative ways, while leaning in towards what I know has always worked.

As I sat waiting for my massage, the deep tissue kind that removes the knots that I create by not breathing properly when I am under stress, I noticed a “Personalized Total Body Care” handout that the establishment was promoting for skin. I glanced over and giggled a bit as it was an “innovative approach” that I had encompassed in my own world for so long for things unrelated to skin itself. I had used these particular ideas/methods for so long that I was actually searching for something different. The crazy part was that I was searching for something that I really didn’t need, as these methods were always of value to me and worked great… it was just that with my mind always spinning towards innovation I just felt that I should be reaching out for something better, even if it didn’t exist just yet. The breakdown for this product promotion was so incredibly similar to my own methods that it felt like they had entered my mind and ran off with a little piece of me. Was this exciting for me or annoying to me or was this simply intriguing? I honestly couldn’t figure it out, but it led me to more reflection and in turn this post.

Energizing BOOST for my Soul

My energy level fluctuates, as it does for many. The thing is… that there are times I’m not so sure if it is because I am overextending myself, low on iron (I’m that girl), sitting too much (writing manuscript, blogging, curriculum, etc.) or if I am running wild through a self-pity moment that is comparing myself to the many other incredible people around me that appear to have their “stuff” together a bit more than me and my post-its. Then I pause and ask myself, did I have my coffee yet? ha! Oh, yes… 2 cups! Recently, I started “power” walking with my husband at the crack of dawn. The first day out, I thought I was going to have a heart-attack… something like, ” I can’t make it… this may not be for me!” He replied with, “Come on, you got this!” I didn’t have it that day at all and cried a few pitiful tears for myself as my chest stretched and I couldn’t catch my breath. Then when we got home I could feel that I was ready to move on with my day in a different way I hadn’t felt in awhile. I embraced the boost in my energy and accomplished quite a bit to my surprise.

Clarifying BOOST for my Mind

Power-walking led to a different accomplishment… a more clear-headed accomplishment. Here I am a month later, and I am now on fire with my walking. To be honest, I am giving my husband a real run for his money. The thing is, walking had boosted my energy level physically that in turn nurtured me mentally and ultimately gave me more time with my husband, Eric, that I didn’t even realize I was missing. WOW! This is where balance comes in for me and that needs to be my definition of balance, not that of others. When I look at others crushing balance in their lives, I compare myself to them and find myself discouraged when I am not mirroring what works so well for them. Clarifying what works for me is a self-care chat that has to happen… so when you see me engrossed in serious conversation and no one else is around, let’s just say it’s all for the good!

Hydrating BOOST for “ALL THINGS”

Ahhhh, hydration! This is a game changer, right? The amount of water I drink could float a ship… one full of my fabulous friends, family, and PLN. I find that the more I drink, the less garbage I eat, the more water I want, and the boost in my energy level goes up and up! The thing is that I actually feel like I’m glowing a bit different these day and yes, the water is a definite support, but there is something else. Somewhere in my “Kristen Care Package” I recognized that in order to put more in, that I need to take some things out. For me that meant having a “come to Jesus” moment where I recognized I needed to go through something, not around.

Renewing BOOST for Resilience

For those that are close to me, you know where this is going and for those of you who may be connecting with me for the first time, building resistance for my broken heart is something that I must go through, not around. In order for my smile to return on a regular basis and my cheerfulness to be at the forefront where others are used to, I had to seek a therapist for the grief that I had yet to go through with the loss of my mother-in-law… one of the closest people in my world. For me, it was a struggle of honoring her wishes, maintaining her confidence, fulfilling our relationship as friends beyond family, helping her to embrace her new journey with God when she wasn’t ready to leave her loved ones, and assisting her with the transition from here with us to her precious spot in Heaven. For many families, hospice provides this support, and even though they were a major support to us, with the quick unraveling of health, I took on the full responsibility to administer her medication. At the time, my mind knew it was what had to be done… my mind just didn’t convey that to my heart. As the months passed, and I tried to hold my family up in their own grief, I found myself retreating into a space unfamiliar… alone. It wasn’t until recently, and through therapy, that Eric and I realized that when mom passed, she took with her a piece of me that will never be back and left a hole in my heart no one ever had to fill, as she was the one to do just that. Building up resilience for my heart has meant opening it up to new possibilities. Allowing it to beat again, to be loved in a different way, and to trust that I can do this without her. I am getting there… a boost of love and support is around my every corner. Smiles, kindness, support, and love are renewing my heart in a way that is now able to relate to my mind.

Self-Care Package- Just For You

What is it that boost you? What is it that creates that moment of joy that you feel entering your mind, taking over your body, and filling your heart? I encourage you to find it… create the package that is made just for you. Open it up, use it daily and allow yourself that boost that you are worthy of… yes, you!