25 February 2011

An Online Presence

Its been a while since I have had the time to say anything on here. I've gotten to the point that I finally have a minute or two to breathe so I thought I'd just write some thoughts. So if I ramble, I'll apologize upfront.

A certain online instructional technologist/English professor forwarded me an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education and it made me do some serious thinking about my "online presence". In fact, in the last couple of weeks, there have been several things making me think about it.

Many of you tweet regularly, blog, and update your status on Facebook, which is probably why you are reading this post. I imagine most of the people who read this blog do so as a result of either my Facebook status or a tweet they may have seen. Although I would like to send a shout out to those of you coming to us via your Feedreader! But I digress.

I tend to tweet about much more random stuff than I should. I mean I'm not telling people when I pass a kidney stone, nor do I talk about what I ate for breakfast. However, I have realized when I am feeling some bit of angst about something, it seems to be therapeutic to tweet or share on Facebook. This extends into all areas of my life. I'm not above letting my frustrations show. There have even been a few times when I have shared my feelings about a student.

However, I've learned that talking too much about what I am feeling can be inappropriate. I'm learning that everything I think does not have to be shared. I agree with Billie Hara when she says "Suddenly my Twitter stream was a teacher’s lounge". I don't want to be accused of being "that guy". You know those folks. They have nothing good to say about anyone, especially students. Now if I am struggling with frustrations, why in the world would I want to hear about yours?

Most of you know I am a heavy Facebook user and I use it in class. I have to think carefully about whether or not I would want students to hear what I am saying. I'll be honest, I have even gone as far as backspacing a tweet/status update inside TweetDeck because I thought better of it.

I had an interview last week with several School Board members, Putnam City Foundation members, and administrators. This interview was as a result of my selection as a PC Foundation Educator or Excellence. Many people would view that as a good thing and I won't disagree. However, there is a side effect of being recognized for something by those in power above you. You have to think about who might be reading your blog/twitter/Facebook even more!

As I write this, I think, "What if so-and-so is reading this?" What will they think? How will that make them view me? (either as an educator or simply as a person?)

There was one point in the interview when I kind of stumbled as to what I wanted to say and the Foundation Director reminded me that I do a lot of reflection here. I moved on and was able to answer the question (hopefully to their satisfaction). Later, I began thinking about what was said and I came to the realization that they had been reading what I've been saying here! I began to wonder, "Is that a good thing?" "Is that a bad thing?" I guess it all depends on what your goal is.

I then decided what mine was and what mine has always been in my writing here: I want to reflect on my practice and make a chronological log of my journey into being a professional educator. Its funny because I'm sure that was much more simplistic 4 years ago when I started writing. Anyway, would it be nice to be selected as "the" district teacher of the year, but that has never been my goal. So, if my administrators know what I am doing on some deeper level, then that's good. If my students know that I am always trying to learn something new, then that's good. If my colleagues know that I am human, I have insecurities and self-confidence issues, then that's good, too! I talk to students about transparency and I intend to model that through by blog.

I will make this vow: I will never disparage students in a public, online platform. If I need to gripe, this is not the place. I will be cognizant of my online presence and I will consider my audience when writing. This excludes my blog. I write here for myself. If someone else reads it, then that's good.