The “F” word…in public

Source: via Summer on Pinterest



I secretly wanted to call this post “Why I make my Facebook Public”, but ‘Why and How’ posts aren’t my vibe.

I recently revisited my last post “The Year that Was” where I talked openly about how Facebook has evolved into a rich tapestry of the story of Summer. Photos of wonderful times, stories of great events, check-ins to interesting places, links to things I find interesting. It’s the story of me.

I talk with lots of teachers and students about social media, and the “F” word always comes up, as if it is somehow dirty or criminal. I don’t think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc are problematic, it’s in the use. We know this…this is not a new statement.

I love Facebook. There. I said it. I connect with friends I see very little of across the world, it has saved me from the awkwardness that is a school reunion, helped me plan social events, keep up with friends and their babies…all good things. But recently, a discussion with a teacher around how she ‘locks down’ her profile got me thinking about my Social Media portfolio, and use of all spaces online. There’s no doubt I leverage different spaces in different ways; we all should, and we connect with different people in these spaces. I’ve seen over the past 18 months or so, the lines of my Twitter and Facebook blurring as I share more educational stuff on Facebook, and more social things on Twitter; the same people are generally in both spaces in a lot of situations. I connect with people on Pinterest, as I build a picture of my aesthetic. Over on Instagram, I’m finding kids I teach following me, another extension of my story. I think photography is a great way to build empathy and a good way to take a little longer to appreciate a moment. A photo tells a story, and it another way we can connect with others. I’ve been involved in some productive ‘coaching’ of kids in this space regarding their online image. While chatting about Instagram, have a look at how this class uses this social media space to make their learning public.

Kids do understand why, but I think they often don’t understand how. Isn’t it up to us as teachers to show them the way? We can also write amazing resumes for ourselves, but I’ve come to learn that being authentic in life, and online is far more organic and simple. If it’s not the right thing to do, don’t do it. If you don’t want people to know about something, don’t post it online. Here’s my rule; if I put it online, I want you to know about it.

A young man recently said to me “You know your Facebook is open? You know I can see all of your Tweets? You know I found you on Instagram? I can see your resume on LinkedIn

“So how do you feel about that?”

“You’re the same online as you are in real life”

He then went on to tell me how much more connected and respectful he felt, knowing more about me. He actually shared with me how much he enjoyed seeing me reflecting on and discussing “all of that nerd teacher stuff”.  A pretty proud and humbling moment actually.

It’s about who I am, and showing kids what it means to have a digital footprint. There are things online I can’t have control over and mistakes will be made…such as life itself. But I have firmly decided to show what we expect kids to know, and try to model it well.

I welcome your thoughts.


3 thoughts on “The “F” word…in public

  1. Dear Summer,
    While I agree that it integral to support a students learning in a digital space, I personally feel that some things need to be kept private. As an educator, I enjoy connecting with other educators and teachers in a public space on instagram and facebook but also have personal accounts. Living in a digital space is wonderful way to connect with people. Absolutely! #peoplematter
    Cheers @7mrsjames

  2. I use Twitter and Instagram differently than Facebook. As a result, the level at which each profile is open is different.

    My Twitter account is open because I use it in my job as a tech coordinator; I also Tweet about what’s going on in my neighborhood. I have some students following me, but I generally don’t follow them because I’m not interested in what they’re tweeting about (mostly social inside jokes).

    Instagram is more personal than Twitter, but the whole point of that platform is to share one’s photos and to explore what other people are sharing. Thus, my Instagram account is open and I have plenty of current students following me (and I follow them back). Apart from liking or commenting on photos, there is very little social interaction.

    Like you, I use Facebook to keep up with friends and family around the world. I don’t share anything that I wouldn’t want the whole world to see, but I am also mindful of the fact that some of my current colleagues don’t want the world to see what they’re posting (text or images on my Wall or photos on their profiles that I’m tagged in). Thus, I don’t have current students as friends on Facebook, and when I accept former students, they get put on a restricted list that means they won’t ever see photos I post that involve teachers in social situations.

    I think it’s okay to model good online etiquette for students and allow them to share in much of our online presence, but there also needs to be a line sometimes.

  3. Howdy Colin and JJ,

    I think we are all on the same track here. Facebook is just as much about sharing as anywhere else. I draw lines, in not being friends with students and managing tags. It’s interesting how cognizant my friends have become of my Facebook vibe; I’ve heard them frequently comment ‘no we won’t post that, you know how she likes her Facebook!’ And they know if I don’t like it up there, it’s gone.

    Thanks for your comments, it’s certainly something I have been thinking about lots and wanted to write about to see where the thinking of other social media savvy minds are at.

    As always, we share, discuss, reflect and adjust!


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