My steps with social media have been tentative to say the least. I set up manage a Facebook group called ‘After Class’ where my colleagues and I share interesting articles, ideas and humorous tidbits about our profession. In joining this group participants agree to our shared understanding regarding ‘appropriateness’ when posting and it has become quite a little community of sharing. It is a closed group, for obvious reasons, especially in light of the fact that many of my colleagues have parents as ‘friends’ on Facebook. This has always blurred a line for me and I prefer to politely decline parent and student requests. I have always made a point of doing this Face-to-Face or over the phone and I have found parents to be extremely understanding. Granted, I have made a few exceptions recently with exstudents but I think when they are in their late 20s and early 30s and sharing wedding and baby news there is some room to move. Still, when posting inside Facebook I am extremely careful about what I post, knowing that things have a way of showing up in people’s feeds.
In navigating Twitter, again my steps have been tentative. I read a similar article early on about the importancy of ‘having an identity’ on Twitter so very reluctantly attached a photograph of myself. I cannot tell you the anguish I went through trying to come up with the right words to attached to my profile – how do you summarise all that you are into just a few words and for all the world to see? I also made the decision to post under my pseudonym – Izan,¹ It made me feel a little safer and freer to explore and express myself away from my teacher badge.
I very much consider what I do on Twitter as an extension of my professional persona and make all judgments about what I retweet or tweet on that basis. Some might consider that calculating, perhaps it is, but it also ensures my interactions are with people of like minds or others whose opinions and insights I have come to appreciate. I certainly don’t mind have my thoughts challenged but I choose to use Twitter as a professional learning tool rather than letting everyone know what I had for breakfast or some other inner most thoughts. In starting my journey with Twitter I was extremely hesitant, having been strongly discouraged from using any form of social media under the guise that it could potential compromise by professional integrity and reputation. Still I knew it was a value resource I wasn’t tapping into. So I guess starting on Twitter for me was a way
of accessing new and exciting ideas from around the world whilst keeping myself current. So I initially started by just reading and following others. This went on for several months and then…my first retweet! I can still remember how concerned I felt that my professional world might come crashing down around me but it didn’t and I became quite the retweeter. It has only been recently that I have begun posting links and videos as I come across them. I confess to being quite thrilled when AITSL retweeted one of my posts and I was amazing how quickly it began to spread. I have yet to move to the stage of articulating my own thoughts and opinions so in that sense I am no rooster yet as far as Twitter is concerned! Not sure if this is every something I could see myself doing, time will tell I suppose.
Aside from these two sites, I have kept by social networking to a minimum. Instagram wasn’t for me, and I was constantly being hounded by students to allow them to ‘Follow me’, a point I always found quite ironic. I quite like the look and concept of Flickr but haven’t pursued setting up an account whether that is due to time or inclination I am not sure. Pinterest is a favourite, of most teachers around the world I think agree! I also have a Scoopit and eblogger accounts, rss feeds, countless Web 2.0 sites, you name it! But the truth is I find it difficult to find the time to use them as much as I would like. And for me that is the challenge of social media and online tools in general – time management! So many great things to see, do and be involved in but so little time!
1. A long story involving a Pizza shop and a small language barrier that resulted in the miss interpretation of the phrase “My name is Anne’ and a cold pizza.
Photo by: Vanessa Hall