Thnx 4 ur RTs

A rather popular figure in ELT kicked off a rather big discussion two days ago - one which captivated my attention and distracted me from doing a thousand other, much more pressing and urgent, matters.

It was regarding the social niceties which should or shouldn't go along with life in web 2.0 and whether or not we understand the culture emerging there.

For the most part, Gavin's observations were spot on but still, I was annoyed about a couple of things. Regarding the narcissism of web2.0, he's right - it is something I have observed and dislike also but the blogosphere is abuzz with it, it's not only happening in our field.

I remember my own nervous beginnings but as someone who's traveled quite a bit, I also remembered that because I wasn't sure of the map and cultural faux pàses so easily tripped on, I bought, watched, read and bookmarked the 'guide-books.'

I studied before I entered.

One particular point in the blog comments on That' SLife was whether or not thank you's for ReTweets are appropriate: if they're a form of spam and whether or not they should be made privately or publicly and discussions erupted on how they "clutter up" the hmm... really rather busy twitter stream.

So here's the thing...

I say thank you to you because I am thankful.

Actually, I'm excessively, overwhelmingly, abundantly grateful.

Let's get something pretty straight, just in case it isn't clear:

I am no big deal.

As much as I love my blog (can you tell?) and it's nice (but mostly weird) that some of you are now referring to me as a VIP, it just ain't so.

I'm an English teacher.

I pack up my backpack every weekday, just like you do, well mine usually has a netbook inside it, I go to my classes and teach there and sometimes my lessons work out well so I blog about these.... so you can go try these ideas out too and I can find them again... but sometimes, to be frank, they're not all that clever.

I train teachers in workshops however I'm not a teacher-educator.

I haven't written a major textbook and no, I haven't created an earth-shaking pedagogy.

So, how did this no-one arrive in the place of having a "popular" blog?

When I started in September last year, I wasn't on Twitter. So in the beginning I got maybe 5 visitors a week..? And probably of those visits, 50% were made by my parents. But I came to the page and I wrote.

I put in the hours.

Some of my articles were just awful. Embarrasingly so.

Some of them were average.

Sometimes I thought, wow, is like no one ever going to read my words? All those so-called supportive colleagues at the school I used to work at - too busy, they kept saying they'll look at the weekend but the weekends went by and they did not come.

That so-called best friend who told me she liked my blog and then when I asked her, did you like what I did with the pictures, she said huh, what picture... and I knew she too, had not come and visited.

And though I was hurt I came to the page and I wrote.

I went out and I learned from the better bloggers. I offered to do guest-pieces for those who knew what they were doing because I read that you should do this. Some of these were accepted, some were not.

I visited your blogs and I learned from you.

I wrote more articles.

I bought books on blogging.

I combed through slideshare and the 'net for tips on how to become a good blogger: Darren Rowse and Chris Brogan helped me enormously - their mantra became my mantra and if you really want to be a popular blogger too, make it yours:


Somewhere around the 4 months mark... I came up with something which was considered useful by you: some of you decided to share a lesson plan I'd spent 12 hours writing with your colleagues on Facebook, you sent it on by email and it got listed in various yahoo!groups.

Now all of a sudden I was getting 20 - 50 visitors a day... and some of you even began to subscribe to my posts.

Which meant, holy cow, responsibility...

I had to write...

So I came to the page and I wrote.

You started talking back to me.

At around six months, some of you started writing to thank me for what I was writing and it was this gratitude of yours which pulled me to the page and made me write even more articles, now twice or three times a week instead of every now and then.

I joined Twitter in May and as we bloggers of the blogosphere connected daily in the Twitterverse, suddenly the number of visitors to my blog increased exponentially and with that, the deepening obligation to keep writing.

I enrolled on a course with Darren Rowse and did the tough but rewarding 30-day challenge to become a better blogger.

I wrote every day and did every exercise...

My writing improved and now you began to regularly share my posts with your friends, with your colleagues, - you RT'd my work, ideas and tips and passed these on to your own professional and personal learning networks.

Let me say that again.

You read my posts and you commented on them and then you decided what I wrote had enough value to be shared with your own colleagues. This may seem to a casual observer as no big deal... this may seem odd as "in real life we don't thank people for repeating what we say" but this is what you did:

You rewarded me with the highest praise
any writer could ever wish to receive

you told me my words were worthy.

So though I'm no VIP and though I don't write the best blog in the blogosphere you keep bringing the obligation and responsibility to do the thing I love doing most: writing.

Through your appreciation, you have transformed my quiet life - - you've gotten me two paid writing assignments, you've given me a thousand new ways to smile, confidence in my concepts and ideas about teaching - - you have challenged me to be consistent and true, you have helped me grow as a person and a character in the edu web 2.0 world and

you have given me the gift of the page.




19 Responses to “Thnx 4 ur RTs”

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    Glennie says:
    December 05, 2009

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Glennie says:
    December 05, 2009

    What a wonderful piece! Thanks Karenne.

  • Gavin Dudeney says:
    December 05, 2009


    Lovely post. We mostly agree on things, so not muchpoint my digging too deep here, only to say that I do like your writing and look forward to it. You're getting to be quite prolific!


  • Anonymous says:
    December 05, 2009

    Dear Karenne,

    As a newcomer to the blogosphere and twitter-ville, I simply loved this piece. Actually, it's not about self-publicizing or not. It's about doing something we like, learning from our mistakes and moving on. In addition to that, blogging (at least to me) is not about trying to become well-known and famous instantly. I've only recently learned the meaning of PLN, and this is yet another tool. Just today I mentioned on twitter that those who are simply looking for self-promotion will naturally be excluded from the community and sharing circle.
    It may also be funny to hear, then, that now you're one of the people who inspire other to write. It's not about being VIP or not. It's about being passionate about what you do.

    Thank you again for this inspiring, comforting, reflective, and lovely post.


    December 05, 2009

    Is it pedantic to say thank you Henrick, Gavin and Glennie ;-) ;-) I'm really glad you guys like this piece!

    Glennie, you're one of the people I think about when I'm writing - in fact when you first started commenting on my blog I was very in awe of your knowledge and didn't know how to respond appropriately!

    You are very much one of the people that make me stretch to do my research properly on some of the "tougher" pieces and I'm always very grateful for your input!

    Henrick, *blush* - I am glad I inspire you.

    Gavin, I don't really have to tell you here that you're one of my favorite bloggers (I think I comment on every post you write... or just about) nor how much I learned from you when I was just figuring out the ropes. Thank you for your support!


  • Isabelle Jones says:
    December 05, 2009


    Thank you for writing this.


  • Carol says:
    December 05, 2009

    Aww! Lovely post, Karenne! But, you know, you really are a VIP... to us!

  • Arjana says:
    December 06, 2009

    Wow, what a wonderful post, Karenne!
    Definitely my No.1 Most Influential Blog Post 2009.
    Thanks a lot:-)

  • Shelly Terrell says:
    December 06, 2009


    What a beautiful and inspirational piece. I feel the same way you do and about you! I agree with Carol that you are a VIP to many of us! You are extremely supportive and humble. I feel this way every time someone reads my post, retweets me, attends my webinar, and so forth. You and I remember the days when only you showed up to one of my presentation. Everyday, I am humbled by the educators who share with me and find what I share valuable. I'm one of those who does thank incessantly but not because I'm desperate, I'm really thankful, grateful, and humbled! When someone thanks me I never think it is because they do not truly mean it or it is robotic for them. I feel as if they truly are thankful. I guess I'm naive because I don't see that there are hidden messages behind a thank you. I think the person meant it even if they tell me 1000 times! I don't expect it but I do appreciate when someone takes the time to do this publicly or privately.

  • Valentina English360 says:
    December 06, 2009

    What's that bit about "I'm no big deal"? As we've mentioned before, we have a "kalinago threshold" cropping up in our discussions on editorial meetings and international skypes.

    You are huge in our eyes, and we are hugely grateful for your shared insights, dedicated time and special words.

    Thank YOU :-)

  • Valentina English360 says:
    December 06, 2009

    And let me add, for anyone who doesn't get the "kalinago threshold" concept that Karenne has (unknowingly?) defined it with her very own precious words.

    The level at which shared content is :
    gives you a thousand new ways to smile,
    confidence in [your] own concepts and ideas about teaching -
    challenged [you] to be consistent and true,
    helped [you] grow as a person and a character in the edu web 2.0 world and
    given [you] the gift of the page.

    No mean feat and not always possible to achieve but we see it as desirable to have bear this in mind at the outset of our projects. We appreciate the way you are marking new boundaries and moving us through new doors.



  • Marisa Constantinides says:
    December 06, 2009

    Woe!!!! What a juggernaut of a post! Big time stuff, mamma, I love it and I am with everyone here and we are on your side because you are on our side too. And I think though you are very humble about yourself and kind of big everyone else you mention up, you forgot to say you are a great educator, Karenne.

    And educators don't grow in trees, they are not born perfect and beautifully formed and thank you for pointing out all the hard work that it takes to be a good educator and the blogger we all aspire to.

    Education is not for the lazy or faint-hearted and you are neither.

    I don't mind thanking you in public or in private or both but, truly, I didn't know you from Adam six months ago, but you have become an important person in my world by being there and connecting me with so many wonderful people - generously giving of your time and know-how.

    I must stop! I am definitely waxing lyrical here.

    Big hugs to you my Karenne and do so look forward to giving them to you in person.


  • little_miss_bossy says:
    December 06, 2009


    Thanks a lot for this post :)

    So many things you wrote about the beginning of you blog sound sooo familiar. I'll take your advice then and write.

    Want it or not, you ARE a VIP blogger. In my case, you should thank Lindsay Clandfield for making you famous :)

    Off the record and changing the topic - I guess I got too involved in the nominations for the sexiest man of ELT. Last night I've had a dream featuring some of them and I'm not going to tell you what it was about :D
    Luckily my bf is not a part of TEFL and will probably never find out what I've been writing here :)))


  • Clare says:
    December 06, 2009

    You know Karenne, your energy is boundless. You work super hard at the Bloggers in ELT NING, on Twitter, on your posts, on others' posts. And you teach. You work all hours of the day and night (I've often seen you around early / late) and you never stop with what you've got - you're always trying to find out more, do more, learn more.

    I'd like to say (jokingly) that you put in the hours so a lazy blogger like me doesn't have to, but seriously, it's hard-working bloggers /teachers like you that lift the quality of the teaching profession.


  • Sean Banville says:
    December 06, 2009

    Hey Karenne,

    I must say to you sshhh... or should I shoosh to you sshhh...

    #1 - You were a primary inspiration for me starting my blog.

    #2 - You write so many brave posts on things that are so important to say that no one else says. That's pretty important.

    #3 - You stand up for other people online. That's unbelievably important and I for one am deeply indebted to you.

    #4 - Here's the sshhh bit. I started Tweeting in July. Even though I had been running several websites for five years, the world of ESL blogging was largely unknown to me. In my first day on Twitter I noticed you had a fair bit of presence and clout. I thought then you were one of the absolute musts to follow and I was right. I confess (sshhh!) I RT'd a few of your blogs hoping you would spot me and follow back.

    #5 - I cherish any kind of feedback you give me because it's so important.

    #6 - VIP-ity is in the eye of the beholder. There are lots of beholders replying. Now you can write as many long posts as you like, you can be as humble as you like, you can pack your netbook in your backpack as often as you like and think you're no big deal. None of this will stop your rise to further VIP-ness. It's too late for that.

  • Nick Jaworski says:
    December 06, 2009

    I really liked the insight into how your presence in the blogosphere got started.

    I'm coming to realize that our visions of ourselves and the way others see us through our online presence are generally two incredibly different things. As another blogger said to me, there's a sort of fame here, but the people around you in the physical world may not even know you blog or could care less.

    This whole concept of a VIP had never even occurred to me until Gavin's post. Apparently it is something others were aware of and I was in the dark. I think the concept really got consolidated with Gavin's post and it's interesting how we create these categories.

    Whatever a VIP is, you have been an inspiration to me as a new blogger and to many others. That's quite clear. Your energy seems inexhaustible.

    The main thing is that you've got clout. You say that thanking for RTs is important and immediately I start questioning my own thoughts on the matter. Your opinion is valued within our community and I think that says a lot. It's not valued because you have published books or are a big presence at conferences. It's valued because you worked so hard and the community recognizes that. What you're putting out there is something worth taking notice of and something we're interested in.

  • Janet Bianchini says:
    December 06, 2009

    Dear Karenne

    What can I say but a heartfelt thanks to you for writing the way you do. Each posting is invariably so well written and thoughtful.

    You are a true"superstar" in the blogosphere!


  • Anonymous says:
    December 07, 2009

    I'll just say merci, Karenne, for being so helpful, competent and generous. Don't know what else to say, maybe it's a cultural thing (I find myself often writing "maybe it's a cultural thing", I must stop!) : I feel I say more just saying "merci", or "thank you", very meaningfully, than "merci beaucoup", or "thank you very much". So there : merci !

    Alice M

  • Tara Benwell says:
    December 10, 2009

    Thank you Karenne! Seriously you pick the best photos to go with your brilliant blogs. I live right by the beach on Lake Ontario and I often leave notes in the sand to myself or my husband or a stranger when I jog by in the mornings. It's the same feeling a new blogger feels...will anyone read this? As long as I've enjoyed the experience of writing, it doesn't matter all that much. I can tell that you love the experience! Best of luck with your blog in 2010.


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