In “Friend, foe or strong leader?,” Amber Teamann explores the challenges teachers face in using social media. But the post is more than a reflection on a question that could lead to termination–Should we friend our students? Rather, it explores the tension between who we are and who we purport to be for financial gain.
While we’ve often agreed that MORE time with a student can be valuable, have a greater impact academically on students, that time has usually been characterized as more “seat time,” focused on tutoring students. Social media enables us to reach students at any time, often including them in our lives as educators…the problem is, what happens when our lives aren’t as educational as our bosses would like them to be?
The definition of what is educational behavior is narrowly defined as what happens in the classroom or academic setting. Simply because we can expand the boundaries of the classroom, knock down the walls of the classroom using social media, it doesn’t mean that the walls of our privacy as educators should be knocked down as well. Amber acknowledges this point when she writes, “As educators, we know we are held to a higher and different standard within society.”
When boundaries intersect, worlds collide. Amber flirts with danger when she uses Facebook to be a social butterfly, as if Facebook–which I dropped as a tool for social media recently–could actually be trusted with her future in the face of a “higher and different standard within society.” While Twitter and Plurk offer great opportunities for building a professional learning network, too often, they are used by foolish educators as a place to announce their dis-satisfaction with a host of issues that could lead to disciplinary action, if not termination. Crossing lanes on the “Information Superhighway,” a term I haven’t used in a long time given the power of the network and connected learning as a more apt metaphor, can result in a head-on collision for teachers. While Amber and others are themselves in public via Facebook, it must be a sanitized “me,” that adheres to the standard Amber acknowledges.
At a time when passion-based learning is of great interest, why not pursue a position that allows you to be who you ARE rather than who you must be to satisfy a standard? Accept the consequences of being yourself. If being yourself is a matter of being open, transparent, then embrace that…just be aware that the job you have may not lend itself to your newly found values. If you can be open, transparent, and that raises no eyebrows in your society, then you’re in the right line of work as an educator.
Amber reflects on leadership that keeps everyone at a safe and equal distance. While we all sometimes retreat to solitude, human beings are wired for social behavior and engagement with others. Simply, for a leader, there is no personal and professional persona. You are who you are, 24/7 to the benefit of those around you. A leader can’t be one 8 hours a day, then switch it off when they get home. Leadership takes a lifetime, and the moments which fuel the learning necessary happen all the time.
That’s why I believe that blogging is so valuable. It allows reflection on who we are, and what we can do to get ahead. . .it acknowledges that every experience provides the fertilizer for leadership growth. Those who seek to separate their public and private personas are simply playing at being one or the other. The lack of alignment between what is and who you pretend to be will tear you apart. Align the two, find a position that fits, and you will be more confident in the decisions you make…and from that confidence, followers will appear. If they don’t, it matters little. You are pursuing your passions, accepting who you are, acting from your strength at the center of who you are, flexible and open to possibility, unbound.
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure