One of the best decisions I ever made…

haiku for February 3, 2012:

quiet, gentle awe

a simple flower opens

all the world listens

~ ~ ~

This post has been composing itself for weeks now…

in smiles,

in stretches,

in walks,

in those dozing off to sleep moments,

in those wake up with a start in the middle of the night moments,

in those sleepy “just look at the sunshine streaming through the window” wake-up-in-the-morning moments,

and most definitely through the long (long!) workday hours of my life these past several weeks.

~ ~ ~

This post is a tribute to a woman I’ve never (yet) met face-to-face.

This post is a tribute to the magic of Skype, the magic of the Internet, the magic of technology, the magic of PLNs (personal learning networks / professional learning networks) and SLNs (social learning networks) — without which Joanna and I would most likely never have met.

This post is a tribute (also) to the learning journey I’ve been traveling these past several years (please see this link for more info).

~ ~ ~

Several weeks ago (Dec. 15, 2011), I received news of a devastating announcement, news that EnglishCafe.com would be closing, shutting down, no more — as of Feb. 1, 2012 or sooner.

Since that time, so much has happened!

After a few frantic days of trying to ‘save’ the memories of EnglishCafe, of mentally attempting to adjust to a life without EnglishCafe (rearrange the letters of E N G L I S H C A F E and you can spell “changes life” — and indeed, EnglishCafe changed my life). EnglishCafe ‘was’ my life, or at least a very large part of it!

~ ~ ~

So, what to do?

As is my usual tendency, I ‘did’ a lot.  Notified people I knew who might know of jobs, amped up my jobhunting, followed lots more folks on Twitter, spent more time on LinkedIn, cried (wept), threw things, walked, walked, walked, talked, talked, talked, and kept logging in to EnglishCafe… which was no longer the same.

As I was recording screencasts (for my own memories) of various posts and profiles on EnglishCafe, I would repeat, a lump in my throat, the mantra that this “just can’t not be anymore” often followed by “but how, but what can I do, what can we do?”  During one of these screencasts, I voiced an idea that popped into my brain, “What about a Ning?”

When that screencast was finished, I went to Ning.com.  I had learned of Nings years ago (Thank you EVO, thank you CarlaArena) and had experimented with a few of my own Nings (back in the day when they were free).  I made the decision that I could not justify paying to keep the Nings I’d created once Ning went to a fee-based service, so had not used them much in recent months/years. But my memory and experience told me that a Ning might just, might just, might… be an answer.

~ ~ ~

A new Ning is born… December 22, 2012

Was it really only a week later?  December 22, 2012 I explored Ning, set up a free one month trial Ning, played with it a little, then a lot, read, read, read, read, read the excellent help files Ning provides. I pondered. I dreamed. I began to wonder…

And that is when I made one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (December 27, 2011).  All that I’ve learned throughout my online experiences has taught me to value collaboration, feedback, constructive criticism.  I knew/know/acknowledge that I will never please the entire population of the world, but also knew that I should not be creating this site alone.

There were complications. Because of the contract I and others had or had had with Global English/EnglishCafe, because of the uncertainties we were all experiencing as a result of the announcement of the site shutdown, because of the different directions other teachers on the site were taking, because of the high emotion a collective we were reeling from, because of many factors, there did not seem to be a likely colleague to work closely with.

But then, some angel of inspiration let me expand my thinking… why did it need to be a fellow TESOL (teacher of English to speakers of other languages) colleague?  Why couldn’t it be a colleague with expertise of online learning?

So… then… who?  It must be someone I ‘knew’ fairly well, knew instinctively I could work with (and whom would be / might be willing to work with me — not always an easy thing to do!). It needed to be someone who would be / might be willing to devote a fair number of hours.  It needed to be someone willing to ‘tell it like it is’ and ‘give it to me’.  It needed to be someone who wouldn’t just agree with me on nearly everything.  It needed to be someone with a sense of humor.

So… who?  Immediately, four names came to mind.  Two were not really considered because I knew their lives were too busy and it would be a huge burden to even consider asking them.  Of the other two, I will admit I chose “female over male.”  And so I approached Joanna.  And she said “Yes!”

And that is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

If you visit the Learn English With A Worldwide Perspective (LEWWP) site you will see evidence of our (Joanna and I) work together.

It is, of course, also the work of Ning, also the work of everyone mentioned above, and it is an ongoing work of collaborative energy.

~ ~ ~

It is my strong hope that at TESOL 2013 or another international conference, Joanna and I will be able to meet in person, perhaps with another member or two of LEWWP and share more details about our online PLN (personal/professional learning network) development journey.

~ ~ ~

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Post #3, seeking a higher degree of clarity…

…and finding my groove (or trying to).

I like the idea of my blog evolving into a daily haiku+ by which I mean that I hope to make the time to compose and post at least one haiku each day, and (+) add more reflective posts.

My plan of the moment is to add the haiku to each day’s post and to copy it to the haiku page I’ve added here to my blog.  This plan may change as/if I do continue and discover that this idea no longer feels right.

Today’s haiku (composed whilst still in bed this morning)

birdsong fills the eye

morning’s visual caffeine

unbidden alarm

~ ~ ~

For today’s post, I’ve been reflecting on how excited I am to have begun learning WordPress (finally!) and to be working (again) toward refining, defining what I want my blog presence here to be.

Having worked for over three years now on EnglishCafe.com, and having posted 419 blog posts there [http://www.englishcafe.com/blog/Smiling7], blogging is not exactly new.

When I taught abroad (Korea, 2004-2005), I created my first blogs, inspired by an EVO (Electronic Village Online) workshop, and used Tabulas to experiment with.  On a whim, I just googled and found that some of those links still exist (I stopped paying for my Tabulas account several years ago, and didn’t think the links would stay active:

http://jonquil.tabulas.com/2004/04/19/@235620/

http://blogblossoms.tabulas.com/2004/04/19/@235607/

http://smilin7.tabulas.com/

What fun to revisit them! 🙂

But the dedication to blogging consistently (as in daily) has escaped me.

I have a personal goal of maintaining this newly-revived WordPress blog for at least one year, and am more enthused than many of you might ever understand about the idea of actually composing 365+ daily haiku! (I believe haiku to be a noncount noun, but haiku or haikus seem to be accepted as a correct spelling by many).

An eclectic with tangential tendencies” is a phrase I often use to describe myself.  Compassionate, passionate, in many directions!

A challenge I will definitely have, a challenge I hope to conquer, is how to effectively house all of my tangential tendencies in one WordPress blog.  I hope that as I make gains on meeting this challenge I will acquire a following of readers (both lurkers for the mystery they contribute, and frequent commenters for the motivation and food for thought they provide).

RSS feeds are something I still have only basic familiarity with.  I have created a PageFlakes page, have added many feeds there and have some others that come through GoogleReader.  However, I’ve not yet mastered the daily drill of looking at the feeds!

I’ve been following and reading several listservs (ed.gov) Chris Brogan, Larry Ferlazzo, and ASCD SmartBriefsby email posts — for some time now.  As a fan of Twitter, I try to find time (but do not always succeed) to visit, scan, explore links shared there. A select few Twitter folks are set to have their tweets texted to my cell phone (one of my favorites = CarlaArena).

Keeping up with EnglishCafe.com, email, blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and more on a daily basis is daunting!  And pushes me to the brink of needing ‘digital detoxification‘ more often!  And yet I love it!

But I do not love how ‘it’ keeps me from enjoying the outdoors more than I used to.  These are common laments, certainly not unique to me. I find it somewhat laughable that one way to find balance might be to maintain this blog!

In an earlier post, I mentioned Shelly Terrell’s 30 Day Challenge.  As I reread my posts and revisited links, I realize that I am beginning with her 2010 list

http://teacherbootcamp.edublogs.org/2010/02/01/goal-pass-the-baton/

and sort of combining it with her 2011 list

http://teacherbootcamp.edublogs.org/30-goals-2011/

Motivational nudges abound from awe-inspiring educators around the world!

There are many, many others who inspire me whom I hope to mention in future posts.

Now I need to return to my fulfill some duties as co-moderator of the EVO_Drama_2012

*link to info about this year’s upcoming EVOs: