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Givers, takers and matchers: How PLNs change the way we see our work

2 min read


Adam Grant, in a new book called Give and Take, shares three profiles that typify most faculty rooms and work spaces:

Givers: People who help others without hesitation.

 Matchers: People who help others but expect reciprocation in return.

 Takers: People who mostly take from others.

And while common folklore may tell us that it’s a dog-eat-dog world and the “takers” finish first, Adam tells us that this just isn’t true. Actually, takers end up somewhere in the middle of the pack, along with most matchers.

Research has found that givers are some of the MOST EFFECTIVE people in professional situations.

As soon as I encountered this research, I immediately thought of my professional learning network (on Twitter. Almost everyone in my PLN is a dedicated, impactful teacher. My PLN is made up of superstars who serve kids. But, what makes my PLN fundamentally different from all the other effective teachers in the world?

In short, my PLN is full of givers. When I engage my PLN on Twitter around a topic, question or resource, I’m always amazed by how freely they give. In turn, I honestly enjoy giving back whenever I can. This exchange (which is organic and far from “an eye for an eye”) has improved me as a person and as an educator.

This isn’t the sappy sort of giving which causes us to lose sight of our ultimate goal: kids. It’s a strategic sharing that scales good ideas and multiplies the power of everyone’s work. To cite a piece of advice from Adam’s book: You should ALWAYS have time for a 5 minute favor for anyone. You never know how that favor may touch someone in a unique way.

So, as we enjoy Connected Educators Month, I pose the following question to all of you: How can being a giver make you more effective?

Kristen Swanson (@kristenswanson) is a learner, leader and teacher. She is the senior educational technology leader for BrightBytes and a founder of the Edcamp movement. Swanson is also author of “Professional Learning in the Digital Age,” a Google Certified Teacher, a Twitter teacher and an Edublog Award nominee.