Sunset Reflection



Summer is short in Ontario where I am, as well as in other areas and provinces.  The majority of people in my social media connections are from Ontario, so I relate to their excitement in sharing a photo of a bloom, a tree, a lake, a sunset, etc., to celebrate summer moments.  Sunset photos are shared a lot, especially one over a lake — love those!  If you want an online visual treat, just search with both #sunset and #Ontario on Twitter.  I know Northwestern Ontario claimed the slogan of “Sunset Country“, but as families head to the many lakes and getaways, it is good to see that so many are taking in their sunset and savouring a moment of summer.

I enjoy a sunrise as well, but a sunset seems just as celebratory of a good day, a reflective moment, a punctuation of a wonderful vacation… or maybe it is the array of colour and the fact that we are enjoying them so much later into the evening in the summer.  Regardless, enjoy the moments… share if you wish — wherever you are!  The first day of winter is 5 months away…

I often like the “cloud effect”… one of mine taken a few years ago in “Sunset Country”:

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Personally, I blog…


This past weekend I read a few blog posts specifically about education blogs and bloggers.  I noticed a few of the posts shared by Doug Peterson on Twitter.  His own blog was reviewed by a preservice teacher and it started some conversation and a response post by Sue Waters, “Blogging is personal.. or is it?”  I found the discussion about voice and the personal aspects of blogging interesting.  Sue offers some good advice to new bloggers.  I also got thinking about how bloggers can be personal as well as personable and professional.  It may all be about style of writing and personality as well.  I think just having a blog involves some personal risk too.  With each post there is a certain amount of personal risk-taking — whether resources or ideas or reflections are shared.

I think that it is okay if people want and look for different things from blogs.  A blog that didn’t appeal at one time may end up having an appeal at another time.  This could be due to the blogger’s or the reader’s change in situation or growth over the time.  I read quite a few blogs regularly and I don’t have any problem if the posts take on a personal approach or offer a personal reflection or story.  I enjoy “seeing” more of the person behind the postings.  When I started tweeting and blogging, I never expected the connections and friendships that would come out of it.  I also didn’t expect to continue as I did.  I think having a chance to do personal stories or reflections on a blog helps me, so I won’t fault anyone else for doing the same.  It isn’t always easy.

Nathan Hall’s recent post celebrating his own blogging connected some dots for me too.  I thought he offered a great argument for reflective blogging and some great advice to help sustain blogging, be real, and take risks.  Here is his list (but do read his full post please):

  1. Don’t focus on the numbers; they will only take attention away from what is really important. Does it really matter how many people liked your post? It may be that the one post that only gets a few visits might be just what one person needed to read that day. It’s all about the bigger picture
  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You are a person. People do stupid stuff from time to time. People are generally understanding, and if they aren’t, don’t dwell. Make this a time to learn from your less than glamorous moment and others will as well.
  3. Be real. This goes together with number two. You can try as you might to look better than you are or to pander to the masses, but most people will see through the thin veil of vanity and you will tend to lose strength in your message. Stay true to you.
  4. Don’t try to compete with others. It isn’t a game with others as your opponents. One thing I have learned more than anything during this time is that I am not the smartest, best, or any other superlative and I am more than content with that. I actually do think I have some things to share with others, but I gladly concede any titles to others.
  5. Push yourself, but don’t feel you have to always find something to blog. There have been more than a few times that I have put the writing to the side for a season. When I felt the urge to share something, I’ve picked it back up again. It has its ebbs and flows.
  6. When sharing your posts, put it out there a few times, especially on Twitter where it can be buried fairly quickly, but don’t overdo it. It is just a personal thing, but I don’t like to share a post for more than 24 hours on social media. After that, I feel like I look desperate for visitors and I don’t feel good about it. Again, this is just my own decision and others feel differently. Feel free to make your own choices on that.

I appreciate the personal and personable approach of bloggers like Nathan and Doug and many others. I think it is possible to “blog the personal” and still benefit others.  Many bloggers do so from the good of their heart.  It can be the great thing about blogs — choice in how and why you use a blog, as well as in which blogs you read, as Sue Waters discussed in her post as well.

But I am sure there are still some drawbacks to blogs for many.  Can there be too much pressure to post what you think your readers expect?  Too much choice?  Is it different for education blogs?  What sustains you in blogging and/or reading blogs?

For the record…

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I find that I seldom bother adding photos to my blog posts lately, but I have learned a lot that I didn’t know about proper credit and attribution of photos and images since the time I began blogging.  I am likely guilty of posting a photo without proper credit.  This is the most recent post I read on the topic (via Doug Peterson).  Also this post via Chris Wejr, which links another related post written by Chris.

I used to have a photo of me linked to this blog (via Gravatar).  The way that the picture was showing up with posts to social media was more than I was comfortable with, so I changed it to a flower.  I haven’t made proper credit to that photo.  One of my daughters took it and she gave me verbal permission to use it without concern for public credit.  I guess this post is somewhat of a credit and a “for the record”, in case anyone was wondering.  My daughter and I are both fine with this for now, but will we regret it? It’s just a flower picture maybe… but I was in awe of how pretty it was regardless of what effect I applied to it.  However, I stayed with the original colour for my “profile”.

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Careful Sharing


I often quietly observe and ponder what and how others post on social media.  I also reflect on what I post and share.  I often have conversations with others about this.  I am sure most people do all of the above as well.  We can judge or justify just about anything in regards to sharing on social media it can seem at times.

I have used the expression, “sharing is caring” in the past, but I also think that being careful what you share is also caring.  Yet I know that there will be differences in opinion about what “careful sharing” looks like.  The conversation often leads to a debate about sharing as a “brand” and what is appropriate for different age groups, especially youth.  Andrew Campbell covered that topic well in a recent post.  I like to share/post things that I find interesting and inspiring, but I also try to be less quick to share and take that space

One way I have tried to withhold judgement about what other people post/share is by thinking about how our communities, neighbourhoods, and social opportunities have changed.  Our families, friends and acquaintances are not in close proximity as much as in the past.  Sharing our lives, experiences, and reactions to news and events in bits and pieces often and over time with close ties may not be possible as it once was.  Our social needs remain, but the contexts have changed.  Our mobile devices make it so easy to share in the moment what we are excited about.  Upsides and downsides, I recognize.

I hope social media hasn’t replaced or reduced in-person interactions, but it has filled a gap.  But I often sense that it can get “overboard”.  When is sharing really bragging?  When is “bragging” really just a need to be validated because more socially acceptable interaction or validation is not there?  It is called a “status” update.  It’s tricky, I know.  There are times when I get bored with social media… reading about social media… but here I am writing about it again… :)

Two articles I found on Twitter recently (shared by @redfearn and @courosa, respectively) that connected and pushed some of my thoughts on this:


The Weird Way Facebook and Instagram Are Making Us Happier

Both are thought-provoking about the sharing of experiences on social media and what that could mean — now and in the future.


The always controversial “RT”


If you use Twitter for education connecting, learning, and conversations, you have likely read some of the blog posts that are circulating regarding some concern about being “connected” in education.  There seems to be some disappointment with “Personal Learning Networks” (PLNs) and some examination about how social media is being used for education networking, sharing, promoting, etc.

I have been reading some of the posts and trying to understand what the main concern and conflicts are.  I haven’t shared or commented on the posts — these are networks that I am not really a part of and I see the posts via an “RT” usually.  I see educators using Twitter this way and that way, just as I see many people and organizations using it different ways.  It can be easy to wonder who is actually reading and learning via Twitter and blogs and not just posting their own links, status updates, and news.  People will use it as they wish, want different things from it, just as people will read, share, “RT”, and ignore different things.

I wonder if some of the disappointment has to do with the expectations that one has coming into Twitter and building a PLN.  Do some want to be a “rock star” for many, while some just want to be rock for a few, or connect and share within a smaller network or community?  Doug Peterson posted today and shared some aspects of this topic and conversation.  I appreciated his reflection, as well as Tom Whitby’s post regarding “RTing” that Doug linked and reflected on.

Being someone who tweets and blogs mostly about parent roles in education, I knew I would never be a top tweeter or receiver of RTs, and I didn’t expect or want to be.  I have read some concerns about the lack of comments on blogs, while some don’t even get many views of a post.  I rarely have a blog post that gets over 100 views, but after 115 posts and 4 years later, I still post.  I think I am waning though, but that is both about me and what I have learned about social media.

The post of mine that got the most views on a single day is not one that is necessarily my best or most thought provoking.  I know it got those views because somehow it got on the radar of an educator with many followers.  That one day.. that one tweet (and no, I didn’t RT it).  The person has never shared another post of mine that I am aware of… the numbers would have told me :).  I do understand the frustration with people RTing people (and the same people more), instead of it being about the ideas (even if only a perception).  Do the “influencers” who are well established in networks understand the perspectives and actions of others who are trying to find purpose and value in the use of social media?

People “RTing” their own compliments and the tweets of others who have shared their posts can bother me too.  But when I see that many people seldom get their tweets or posts shared/RT’d, I can understand why they might use a different strategy, even it if appears self-promotional.  These spaces and the hierarchies that still exist within them affect our choices and conduct.  I don’t think there is a science or perfect protocol for it all.  I don’t know… but just thought I would write about my perspective and observations.  I don’t claim to understand it all either.

Another year and a blog report

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I have been reviewing my “Annual Report” that WordPress provides each year to its users.  There is an option to post it publicly and I have enjoyed reading those of others who have done so.  I don’t think I will, but I thought I would share some of the details and stats that I reflected on from mine — a quick summary of the report instead, or perhaps some context (not that there are big fireworks to write home about :)).

My most viewed post that was written in 2014: Parent Engagement by Association.  A close second: Parent Involvement: Who gets the final say?

My top viewed post in 2014, and of all time, remains: Parent Involvement and Intrinsic Motivation: A Connection? (2012).  I think that is because of the many internet searches for the words (and general interest in the link between): parent involvement and motivation.  I know it is not my best post, but the numbers don’t provide that context and reality.

My other posts with the most views (top 5) in 2014 include posts from 2012 and 2013.  The first is not a post about parent engagement but remains “popular”:  Standardized Testing: Teacher reflections on EQAO.  The other one is about parent engagement and I am happy to report that it was written by a guest blogger and parent advocate: A Seat at the Table.  Well done, Nancy!

My “Best Day” is Friday.  But I believe that is because I often post on a Thursday.  I don’t know why.. I have always liked Thursday.  It is Thursday today as I write…

This year’s annual report also informed me that some of my most popular posts were written before 2014.  I was informed of the same in 2013.  I am glad that I kept writing even if my banner year was 2012 :)

Most visits to my blog came from Canada.  That’s cool.

The post that was written in 2014 that got the most comments was Graduation Caps and Gaps.  That is cool too, but many of those comments/additions were added by me. :)

My “5 most active commenters” were also provided:  Thank you Doug, Denise, Nancy, Philip, and Tracy!  The report suggests that I should send them a thank you.  I appreciate all who comment here as well.

It is easy to wonder if blogging has any impact or value.  It is certainly an investment in time and the crunched numbers don’t always provide feedback that has clarity, even if interesting for reflection and awareness.  I am not sure this summary post has value either, but most importantly, I would like to thank all who read and join me in my thoughts shared to this blog!  There may be less about parent engagement and education ahead, but I am sure I will still post or comment about those topics here and there in 2015.

Happy New Year!

Read, filter, share… repeat.


I read a few posts this week regarding the “echo chamber” and “filtering” in regards to social media networking and reading information online (via my Twitter feed).  Aviva Dunsiger wrote about the importance of connecting with those who challenge our thinking and present us with new ideas to chew on.  Doug Peterson wrote about reading, accessing, and storing information online and through our social media networks.  He also featured an article that helps the awareness about “snake oil” in a PLN.  The article and Doug’s post offer good guidance about the information we process and who/what we choose to read via social networks.  At the time of my reading it, I found the comments added by Brandon and Lisa very valuable and insightful as well.

I think we all use different strategies to make our online and social media experiences personally suitable and I suspect those strategies change continually — people read and share online for different and varied purposes.  I am not sure what contributes the most to an “echo chamber” — maybe a number of things.  Social media itself keeps changing how information is received and shared as well.  I find I continually reflect why and how I am using social media, as well as about what I share.  I think it is easy for an individual to feel that what they share is not on the radar of anyone and that it would be much easier and more comfortable to just “lurk” and read.  But then does that just allow for the “big” content sharers to keep being the big “content” sharers and/or “thought leaders”?

I think decisions about what to share (of ourselves and of others) is often impacted by a concern about one’s own “brand” and/or about how one might be perceived by others in these spaces.  We could also be very unaware just how much we might miss about a topic or a side to a story, even if we think our networks are diverse and openly sharing.  Also, we all choose how deep we dig into any particular topic or story.  Last week I read this article and interview with Gabor Maté, “How Capitalism Makes Us Sick”.  His points about the internet caused me to ponder.  For example,

And the Internet, whether it’s the amount of information or the way it’s accessible, it may actually be causing people to remain more on the surface than actually digging into ideas.”

So with that and add in the possible pressures to be positive and considerate about a reputation in social media, such as suggested in this article, it does make we wonder a lot about what we are tailoring and filtering for and of ourselves in these spaces.

I guess we are all still figuring it out… as users, learners, networkers, promoters, and products in online/social media spaces. It’s complicated for adults too. Or is it just me? If anyone reads this to the end… :)



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