My Professional Learning Network is very important to me. I rely on them for information, best practices, new tools and answers. As I have become more accustomed to using this resource, I find that I look to certain people for certain needs. Let's say I categorize folks.
The two categories that stick out are Dreamers and Grounders.
Dreamers: Dreamers are my favorite type of people. Status quo is not in their vocabulary. They are envelope pusher, pot stirrers and agitators. They are 'why not' type of people. These are the ones that inspire us to reach beyond what we would normally be accustomed to and get to that point where we are truly redefining what we do in our classroom. They are the ones that when you have conversations with them you find words coming out of your mouth at an exceedingly fast rate, the pitch of your voice raising an octave at a time, and the hair on your arms standing up. They believe anything is possible and they want to convince you, too.
The problem with Dreamers: Dreamers do exactly what you think they would. Dream. They don't think about the hows and the whys. They don't think about how implementing these 'way out of the box ideas' will fly with people who are squarely 'box' thinkers. They don't think about how you will convince others this 'way out of the box idea' is the best way for my kids to learn. That's not their job. But, if you surround yourself with only Dreamers you will, first, have a great sense of wonder of the incredible ideas that are out there, and then be smacked with the 2x4 of reality when you realize the implementation is so very much harder in reality than in the Twitter conversation you had last night.
Grounders: Grounders are the best type of people for me. Grounders are creatures of habit. Not in a bad way, but they have found out what works for them and they do it well. This is not to say that they do not change or innovate, but they do so in a very measured way. They are results oriented. They believe that anything is possible, but they are going to look at every angle, test the idea on a subset of their class and look at the data comparing the new and old way. They are calculated and get results.
The problem with Grounders: Grounders must be convinced to change. They believe in their system and will defend it. They have very well managed classrooms, but some of that comes from the amount of sameness in their classrooms. Grounders will sometime shun a new idea thinking they have a system to do 'that' already even in a new way will do 'that' quicker and smoother.
The reason to have Dreamers and Grounders in your PLN: Dreamers and Grounders balance each other. Grounders take an incredible idea that you got from a Dreamer and splash a little reality on it so that it is easier to implement in your classroom. And Dreamers take a desire to streamline a process that you got from a Grounder and blow it out of the box a bit allowing you to get results that would not have been possible before.
Go out and find both Dreamers and Grounders and then use those resources appropriately to get results that are balanced, attainable and transformative.
Your comments are welcome and encouraged,