A PLN is Like…

Personal Metaphor

The writer in me is always searching for the right metaphor to describe meaningful experiences, such as my Personal Learning Network (PLN).

The greatest gift I received this year was my PLN! Daily, I am surrounded by an incredibly intelligent and passionate support group, yet I met them online. How do you convey this experience to another person?

One metaphor I came up with is my PLN is like a family to me. I have not met most of you outside of this blog, Twitter, Skype, nings, Facebook, LinkedIn, Second Life, or Webinars. However, I feel very close to many of you. You share the same passions and goals as I do. You give me advice and offer me support when I have been emotionally and mentally knocked down. You celebrate my wins with me and comfort me in my losses. You continuously inspire me to be a better person and educator.

If I tell someone this who has no concept of a PLN, will they understand?
Will this scare them away?

Visual Metaphor

I came across this Vimeo movie that served as a metaphor of how a support network gets you through tough times. I hope you enjoy watching this and have a wonderful holiday season with your families!

Sister Winter from FloodSanDiego on Vimeo.


How would you convey the concept of a PLN to someone? A PLN is like…

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to subscribe for free to receive regular updates!

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Facebook.com/shellyterrell. Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.


  1. I agree with you Shelly, a PLN is like an extended family. I think of my PLN as my friends. I feel that I ‘know’ many of them even though I have never met any of them. Most of my PLN are educators and I learn from them every day but I also gain much more. Not only do we share ideas, thoughts, and news, but we share laughter, pain, sadness, and joy. We pick each other up when we are down, we inspire one another, we sympathise with each other, and we enjoy one another.

    • Mrs _Dem,

      Yes! I have experienced the same. I think because we are in constant communication daily so we learn so much more about our lives and our PLN is always around when we need them.

  2. You’re right, Shelly. I also feel close to my PLN, as if I’ve known many of you for a long time.
    I’ve been thinking of a metaphor and I can say that a PLN is like a group of travellers that meet on the road and go towards the same destination and help each other on their way.
    Thanks for sharing and for being always there, behind my monitor.
    Merry Christmas and may your dreams come true!

  3. (Attribute to Graham Stanley – for staff room concept).
    A PLN is like a staff room and a supportive educational authority in one. It is a global community of language educators, just like you, that have come together to support and help each other improve and update their language teaching by using and sharing the resources that are constantly being developed on the Internet.

    You can ask questions, get answers, and when you feel comfortable, even share your ideas and experience.

    A PLN is your personal global friend in education.

  4. over here in texas im deal with a chinese financial firm, and since mrs shelly terrell has been a product of the excellent magnet school, with a higher educated and special curricullum system design in high school for students who are thinking way beyond high school. the ceo of that company wanted to open a magnet school for the chinese student contingent here in texas. however the question came up of what about those in elementary and middle school. my perfect answer was that those students and teachers can be aided by this website. new learning tools and in thier lanquages. an excellent website continued success Shelly love Mr Sanchez: aka :

  5. A PLN is like…?

    This doesn’t quite fit your template, but here in New Zealand there’s a Māori saying…

    He aha te mea nui?
    He tangata.
    He tangata.
    He tangata.

    (What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.)

    That sums up my PLN pretty well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *