Saturday, 21 May 2016

Fine lines; to blog or not to blog

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Do you blog, and if so, why? For me, blogging is an extension of talking through an issue or a problem. Yes, I am pleased when my visitor count spikes up. Yes, I am pleased when someone leaves a positive comment. But ultimately, blogging is one of the ways for me to make sense of the world around me and what I am learning, and I like putting this out there publicly as others might be interested in it.

You obviously read blogs if you are reading this post, why do you read them? I have many blogs in my Feedly, and while I don't always get to read everything, I pick up on bloggers' ideas, tips, links and resources, and I surely have learnt lots from them.

Many educators take to Google+, Twitter, Facebook etc. and voice their opinions and concerns there. I visit many of them on occasions, and in addition to my private FB account have a professional one (simply a second FB profile, connected to a different email) which I use infrequently only, but amongst many other things I have recently read about NZ teachers fearing they might get restricted in what they say online, similar to restrictions some other occupations seem to have.

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There is a fine line between being a private person and a professional and the things we can and cannot say. It is not always easy to distinguish between the two of them, e.g. I have blogged previously about being a parent and a teacher. I have been in professional roles where everything I sent out or posted online has been scrutinised as to how it might affect my employer's image. This had a marked effect on what I was blogging about, and the amount of posts. There was no option to be a 'private professional' without association to that particular organisation as in our networked world connections are made with ease. Having returned in the classroom, everything I write about my thoughts and questions in relation to my role can easily be connected back to my school (to save you the search, it's Mangonui School, one of the coolest little schools in the Far North of New Zealand). But I don't think there is anything wrong with thinking and asking questions, as teachers we are inquiring professionals.

I am strong believer that social media is fundamentally just another form of communication; just as a conscientious professional would not speak inappropriately of their employers or their clients in public, the same ought to apply online. I doubt that in New Zealand a profession would be restricted on voicing their opinion, thoughts and questions on a matter if it was done in a thoughtful and courteous way (and I hope I'm not wrong there). The thoughts and discussions created by such posts can be extremely rich and can help lift the whole profession. There is another fine line though: If we only blog about 'appropriate' matters, potentially where goes debate, discussion and healthy disagreement? 

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Often young people are accused of using social media inappropriately but I don't believe it is an issue of age. We all need to think about how we word what we say - no matter what the medium is. I am afraid though that some professionals could remove themselves from social media in fear or misunderstanding of what they can and cannot say online and how to say it. I for myself have to say that I would be a much poorer learner and educator in a world without the rich online discussions.

I will continue to blog about my thoughts, questions, about what puzzles me, because to paraphrase the amazing +Manu Faaea-Semeatu unless you give something to the online world, there is nothing for you to take. How about you?

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