If you haven't seen Toy Story 3, here's a quick summary: The toys, led by Woody and Buzz Lightyear, end up going to Sunnyside Daycare after their owner, Andy, cleans his room before moving to college. Woody, who has long been Andy's favorite toy (see the original Toy Story), would rather the toys stay at the house they've come to know as home and move up to the attic. He tries to convince the others of how horrible a place daycares are for toys. But when the toys get to the daycare, the toys who are already there, and have experienced what daycare life is like, welcome them with open arms and give them a tour of the place.
Lotso (pic to the right, courtesy of Alan/Falcon), the leader of the daycare toys, describes himself as a "hugger" and introduces Andy's toys to other toys who have their specific jobs in the daycare. He introduces them to Ken (yes, that Ken) who gives them a tour and shows them where the essentials are located. Another toy, Big Baby, helps you with other needs you might have. Andy's toys become very excited about their new surroundings, but Woody leaves them there to go back to the familiarity of Andy's house.
Now, I could tell you the ending of the movie, but A) I'm not that kind of guy and B) It doesn't fit with the analogy.
Who are the daycare toys? Those of us who work and grow from our Personal Learning Network (PLN).
Who are Andy's toys? Educators just stepping into the online PLN arena. They've been told to stay away. They've been told they aren't going to like it.
But we know that's not true.
I read fellow metro-area educator Kristina Peters' blog post the other night, "When Two Worlds Collide," about how difficult it can be to articulate how important a PLN and events like EdCamps are to those who haven't seen the value of the hours spent communicating online. I'm not a very articulate in person. With this blog, I can type, rethink, retype, rethink, etc. Even after I submitted my comment to her blog, I was kept awake, nervous about whether or not I said what I wanted to, and then in the "right way" - who did I offend? Did I properly state my passion? Did I misspell words? You get the idea.
But in the global PLN that I participate in, my own Sunnyside, I don't want or need to take on the role of first greeter. I'm highly supportive of what you all do and will be your biggest cheerleader (sans skirt, of course). We all have our roles. We have to have our roles to make what we do successful. I'm watching college basketball right now - you have to know your role to make the team successful. It certainly doesn't mean those roles will always be the same - some may change day to day, project to project. But we have to have all the roles filled to make our PLN complete. (Click here for great blog post from Cathy Davidson on roles in a PLN...H/T to Stephen Ransom for tweeting it)
So as you think about your PLN, and bringing others into that PLN, be a "hugger" like Latos. Or the tour guide, like Ken. Or the worker, like Big Baby. Find others in your PLN so that when you do bring new people to our Sunnyside, you know where to send them so they can be successful in their new "home."
And if you're interested in the movie, check out this great synopsis of the Toy Story 3 characters by their voices.