23 February 2013

WHO IS @1healigan?

I have been in a difficult place with Twitter this school year. My district, the Roman Catholic Diocese, decided last August that appropriate relationships with students did not include most social media platforms. If  I do not connect with students on Twitter (what I miss the most),  it is not the end of the world, because the strongest connections I build will always be the ones that happen in the classroom. But is there understanding that the alums I follow on Twitter, for example, also interact with my students, so that I still see tweets from my students all the time? If an alum retweets me, then her/his followers can also see my tweets. The intertwining of social identities is embedded into the platforms themselves.
I still blog with my students, and my seniors have built their own blogs, but Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook are out. Notice that only three social media sites are mentioned: this feels like a policy that was written with a different definition of social media than mine. I notice every day in every social platform I use, that I could model appropriate use for my students: they are open to try so many things, but do not always think through their behavior--same as in the rest of their lives. I believe that part of my job is to protect them, and have seen them learn to protect themselves and take control of their digital lives as they become more experienced on social media sites. But for now, I will be protecting them in the way that is needed by my district--it works too.So who was I on Twitter with my students? I tweeted...
*connections between pop culture and our classes
*the books I am reading
*quotes from the writers who inspire me
*the movies/anime I watch every week w/ Film Club & Anime Club
*@SpartanRemark stories:  spreading the good SMHS news
*memes with pertinence to literature motifs and themes
*new books and media they might like
*alerts on events and media that would interest teens
*shoutouts for great class experience or funny moments
So I built bridges, I strengthened bonds, I created (secret) backchannels to extend the learning from earlier in the day. Kids responded sometimes, I gained more followers--even kids at school I did not know. Very seldom did I see seriously inappropriate tweets, though their language is more relaxed than I would ever allow in school. Only once did I have to block someone, and he was inappropriate mainly to see what I would do, I believe. So I did what he needed me to do. Contract honored, even though I wish he had made a different choice.
So who will I be tweeting forward? Though many of my teacher Twitter friends tweet PD and great class experiences exclusively, I miss the opportunity to let my students see me as a model learner, reader, writer, person. I am still halfway through the school year, trying to re-constitute myself as @1healigan. When I view my twitter feed now, I look more like a reader, art appreciator, sometimes obsessive tumblr user, blogger and big fan of Spartan Remark. Not so bad, I guess. I feel the loss of those beautiful threads that linked me in a professional way to my young friends. Don't believe that @1healigan will let it sit forever, though.


1 comment:

Gary Anderson said...

Although I don't follow my current students on Twitter, it's OK with me (and my district) if they follow me. Because I don't tweet about things that are directed at them, they probably find my feed boring. (One of my summer school students got me started on Twitter several years ago.)

This week I showed students exactly how transparent their tweets are. They were surprised how easily all of their tweets could be located by a search engine. Because of that transparency, I'm not sure of the harm involved in following.

Most of my online communication with students comes through our Ning. Everything public is, well, public, and anything private is never deleted. All of that falls within our district's new social media policy.

With all due respect to the diocese, that social media policy is not really in the mainstream of how most current policies are written. That's more how they looked ten years ago in the first generation of social media policies.