Social Media Principles for Professional Growth

by Michelle Pacansky-Brock

blades of grass

Beginning a journey to become a lifelong digital learner can be a daunting task, especially for educators who are used to having all the answers. The principles below are offered to help you get started, guide you, and motivate you through the twists and turns ahead. Enjoy your journey!


As you look down the path in front of you, you may feel uncertain about where you are headed and how you will get there. Keep wondering about what’s ahead; curiosity will keep you moving forward. You’ll need to make choices that you may feel uncertain about at times. That’s why becoming a digital learner is, in many ways, it is like a long-term experiment. As you try new things, remember to look back and recognize what you would like to do differently next time. Trial-and-error is a way of life in digital culture.


As you start your journey, you may question the value that you have to contribute to the public web. Self-doubt is common when engaging in an open digital community. Remember that you are surrounded by individuals who feel the same way. When you participate, you are taking a leap of faith and you will recognize and appreciate those who are kind to you. When others take the time to comment on your work, make it a priority to listen and respond.


Know that you are not alone in this endeavor. Being a digital learner means you are part of a community. Lean on others for support and, in return, encourage your peers. Give to your community by sharing your ideas, your resources, and engaging in dialogue. Over time, you will begin to see your generosity come back to you in unexpected and beautiful ways.

Mindful Participation

Developing a professional learning network is a fulfilling experience, but it is a practice that involves care and attention. Because the lines between our digital and physical networks may blur, it is important to be clear about setting and maintaining boundaries.  As you engage, take care to set priorities, be present when in the company of your family, friends, and co-workers, and allow yourself to take a break. In digital culture, all of your actions matter. Develop a practice that involves pausing to consider your words before you publish/tweet/post. Sometimes choosing not to comment can be the wisest choice to make.


As you grow and change, your professional learning network should too. Developing your PLN is a continuous process of refinement that involves filtering out the noise. At the same time, making a conscious choice to seek out and include diverse perspectives in your network can open your eyes to new ways of seeing things.

Social Media Principles for Professional Growth by Michelle Pacansky-Brock is shared with a Creative Commons-Attribution CC-BY 4.0 International License.