Privacy?

“Yes. I joined Twitter. I also started blogging.”

My friend’s jawed dropped. “You are a freak,” she stated.

I was quite surprised. As I informed family and friends that I had started putting my thoughts out there via blogging and twitter, they were far from supportive. They talked about privacy issues and the criticism that might come my way. Even people who had encouraged me to start writing again were leary of these forms of technology. Self-doubt picked up momentum. “My principal wanted me to,” was always my retort.

The more I talked to people about blogging and Twitter, the more I worried. What if I didn’t have anything relevant to say? What if readers criticized me? What if…

I love writing. When I was in high school, I worked for a local newspaper writing the “Under Twenty” column. When I was fortunate enough to travel with Canada World Youth to Burkina Faso in Africa I provided articles to the same paper. I write letters (yes, actual letters) and my favourite thing to do during my pregnancy was write in my online journal. Why wouldn’t I continue to write in a more public forum?

Privacy is being redefined as each day passes. Being the social butterfly I am, I have always shared my thoughts and feelings freely. I enjoy sharing and receiving feedback. Having my thoughts challenged helps me grow as a writer, an educator and most definitely as a human being. While I am cautious about what I share on Facebook, Twitter and all my digital forums, I want people to know what I think and how I feel. Carefully and responsibly, I will share with all those who are interested. Will they care? Well, that is a different issue!

In my classroom this school year, it is my goal to have the kids begin to collect their work and their thoughts online. This is especially important to the kids I teach, as they are continually moved from home to group home to foster homes. These kids are bounced around from site to site. They have intellectual and behavioural challenges. They have lists of teachers greater than you or I could ever imagine. Why wouldn’t I give them a digital space to store the academic “stuff” that often gets lost in the move? Imagine a child coming into your classroom, unable to tell you what grade level they are working at, but able to show you their collection online? WOW! Responsible digital citizens…plugged in and ready to get to work!

So here I am, writing my blog. And there you are, reading it. I understand that we live in a digital world and that if I don’t jump on the ship now, I will end up standing on the dock, waving. I may be a freak to some, but at least I’m a plugged in freak!

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23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lyn
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 16:17:55

    Melissa,
    Kudos to you for putting yourself “out there.” You’re not a freak 🙂 Although truly there are many people, educators included, who don’t “get it.” You said it perfectly- you are being careful and responsible with what you post. Have faith that what you are sharing is valuable and don’t get discouraged. Have fun!

    Reply

  2. Nancy Rubin
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 16:19:42

    Reading your blog. Keep blogging as long as it is an activity that you enjoy. Well, stick it out even if there are days that you find challenging to come up content or a good topic. Your blog is about the information you choose to share, and the network you can develop because of it. Word of caution, blogging can be addictive :-).

    Reply

  3. Scott Meunier
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 16:29:14

    Congratulations on your leap into the internet. I want to encourage you to keep it going for a couple of reasons:
    1) Privacy, as we have understood it thus far, is OVER. Never to return. There is nothing you or I can do about it, so enjoy writing what you write and recognize that, just like offline, don’t write anything down that you would prefer other people don’t read.
    2) Be interestED to be interestING. A blog can be whatever you want it to be. You are in charge. But if you fuss about writing something that is interesting to others you will either go crazy or just stop…neither of which you want. You have interests and concerns…so write about THOSE things. Write the kind of blog YOU wish you could find somewhere else. I guarantee that there are other people out there like you and yes…SOMEONE will be interested.

    I am excited to see someone getting their feet wet and taking a chance. You are participating in something that, if you want it to, can help you grow. Enjoy it.

    Scott.

    Reply

    • missateaches
      Sep 02, 2010 @ 19:12:00

      You nailed it Scott! I made a commitment to myself and to my principal to be more dedicated to my blog. I wrote a couple posts (this particular one included), but didn’t post them as I was worried that my work wasn’t good enough or well written. It took me almost a whole month (and a lot of teasing from my boss) to finally take the leap back into blogging! Thanks for your comments!

      Reply

  4. Pat Parslow
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 16:30:34

    When encouraging your kids to work and collaborate online, make sure they think about their own ‘privacy’ – what image they will be portraying to the world. The resources they build up can be a great boon to them in the future, but of course there is always the risk of running across fools who want to spoil things for others.
    I don’t think my family ‘get’ why I share things online. But that doesn’t matter – I don’t ‘get’ a whole bunch of stuff about them either! What a dull world it would be if we fully understood everything other people do.

    If you want to use some materials from our Digital Identity project, some of the stuff in the This Is Me workbooks (free to download, can buy paper copies at cost) might be useful for you. It is designed to help people start to think about issues with engaging, or not engaging, online. You can find them at http://www.lulu.com/odinlab – and they are all Creative Commons, so you can adapt and republish them (if you want!)

    Reply

    • missateaches
      Sep 02, 2010 @ 19:15:24

      Awesome Pat! Thanks for the resource! My principal and my teaching partner both blog and are very invested in efolios and student blogging. Responsible digital citizenship is paramount. We will work to ensure that our classes understand the importance of caution when developing their online personas.

      Reply

  5. Patrick Larkin
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 16:35:09

    Melissa,

    I think that social media gets a bad rap because of all of some of the negative uses people find for it. Hopefully you can show people how it helps you connect in a positive manner with people all over the world. I guess I would ask anyone who is a critic how long they have blogged or tweeted. Have they tried it? I think that people need to commit a bit of time to social media before they write it off. In addition, I think that we are doing our students a disservice if we do not show them some of these tools that connect them with people from all over the world who share their passions.

    We need to educate our students, their parents, and your friends about some of the amazingly positive things happening because of social media. Feel free to pass along their e-mail addresses to me. I would be happy to drop them a line. Someday I think people who do not partake in some of this activity may be perceived as freaks?

    Reply

    • missateaches
      Sep 02, 2010 @ 19:17:41

      I’m with you Patrick. In our particular work setting, you can see the divide developing between staff who understand and use social medias to their advantage and those who refuse to participate. I know what side I want to be on!

      Reply

  6. Fred Boss
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 16:35:21

    Best of luck as you go forward thinking and publishing your thoughts – kids love to see real world examples and your blog is one to show them.
    Here’s a great class blog that I follow on Twitter – http://super7scoopers.edublogs.org/ and I think you’ll like it. Your students might too.

    Reply

  7. Celia
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 16:38:12

    Very interesting thoughts on how information (whether it be professional or private) is different now we have the internet. Life is NOT the same as it was. The best part about sharing this way is that you get feedback and that you can give feedback. It is coversation in a new form.
    The point about your students being able to create a digital record of their achievements is a great example of the sharing potential.
    Of course, as you say, it comes with the responsibility of filtering what we say, but that really isn’t new either is it? Different due to the larger audience but not new.

    Reply

    • missateaches
      Sep 03, 2010 @ 07:09:21

      It is true Celia that as our audience grows, so does the opportunity to offend. However, if we are mindful of our words, it also creates opportunities to find friends, new perspectives and change. I think it is pure awesome, but for others it is scary!

      Reply

  8. susan price
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 17:09:12

    Hi Melissa,

    You have a very impressive resume. I commend you for your decision to implement tech into your pedagogy. I am a veteran teacher who has been using more and more tech in my classroom over the past several months. I still have a lot to learn. I am not at all ashamed to ask my savvy techy students for their help. They are always so delighted to help. I am learning that I can use it in my curriculum even though I have not mastered it totally. I am learning from my students, and especially from my savvy techy teenagers at home. Best of luck to you!! Your students are very blessed to have you in their lives

    Reply

  9. Geoffery Kehrig
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 19:05:33

    keep doing the things you love .. don’t let fear, doubt and anxiety block you

    Reply

  10. bentalbert
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 19:27:45

    Great blog and writing. I find it odd the way most people wory about privacy. I’ve always found that living your life in a way that was worthy of scrutiny eliminates the fear of someone else evaluating the merits of your actions. Keep it up.

    Reply

  11. Theresa Murray
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 04:57:53

    Congrats! I hear similar things from people I interact with as well. However, for me, I have gained more knowledge from those I interact with on Twitter than I had in the prior six years of teaching fulltime. People on Twitter, if chosen correctly, will share immense resources that we might not find otherwise. The resources I have found have made many lessons more appealing and have given my students tools that they can take to college (or other classes in our building).

    I have started to blog again this year and will be posting reflections each week. I tried it last spring but got sidetracked. We return to school next week and I will be back.

    I hear from many that my social media time is a waste. Well, no, I don’t see it that way and will even share information with those who are non-believers and prefer to sit on the sidelines.

    I do a large discussion with students about privacy and what message they may display. Some of them have changed their facebook pages after this. We look at who can see what they post (and even how much of a turn off their profile picture can be).

    Like you, I am careful about what I post. No one needs specific dirty laundry.

    Keep blogging and using twitter….it will make you much more knowledgeable.
    Theresa

    Reply

    • missateaches
      Sep 03, 2010 @ 10:00:56

      The world is so much smaller now, and by using social media we have the opportunity to pick each other’s brains. What an awesome opportunity! With that comes the responsibility to be mindful of what we are portraying, writing, saying etc. I will keep blogging and keeping myself in the action! All the best Theresa!

      Reply

  12. miss teacha
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 19:16:50

    Welcome to blogging and u r NOT a freak!

    Reply

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