I’ve touched on this topic before but it has been brought back to the forefront of my attention after Alan November’s speech last week at Convocation that threw Facebook back into the mix. Social media is everywhere. Between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FlickR, etc, not one facet of our being hasn’t been touched by this change in society. Our President even utilized and took advantage of the generations that exist living in a world of status updates and constant awareness: 66% of voters electing him were under the age of 30, a HUGE factor in his election.
As educators, we know we are held to a higher and different standard within society. That stands to reason that the way we handle social media should be different. I go back and forth on my opinions and stances on this subject, leading me to believe that I may not really know what to think. I use Twitter for professional development (8Amber8) and highly enjoy my PLN and all that they offer. A constant stream of new, of different, of challenges that I am able to turn around and share with my peers. I use Facebook for my social butterflyness…it’s my sorority sisters, my high school classmates, and my family. However, I also have several colleagues that are “friends”. This is where my lines get blurry.
I have made it a point not to “friend” students. Of course, I work in an elementary school, so that isn’t shocking. While teaching, I also made it a point not to friend my student’s parents. Again, it made sense to me. Now as an assistant principal, I have a new dilemma. Do I mix my business with pleasure? I am “me” on facebook. There are pictures of my family, I rant about my husband cutting baby wipes in half, and get to brag about my beautiful niece Zeta. If I have a bad day, I vent. If I have a good day, I share. My sense of humor is my own and I get all kinds of worked up during Cowboy games. At my first administrative driven conference, I discussed with a group of my new “peers” about whether or not they friended their teachers on Facebook and while the answers varied, more erred on the side of “no” than yes.
After thinking this through since Alan mentioned it on Thursday, and re-discussing with several people I highly respect, I have reminded myself of the leader I want to be. I want to be approachable. I want to be seen as human, one who makes mistakes, who values relationships and people. I want to be REAL. One of my favorite people in the world made the comment today that “relationships reduce rebellion”. I think that is a gem of greatness. Enabling my staff to see me as personally as well as professionally lets them see me transparently. I think it is an old fashioned style of leadership that requires leaders to maintain a certain distance, to keep everyone at a safe and equal distance. There was a GRAET article in TEPSA last month that suggested while that may be true, it also led to a cold and sterile environment. That isn’t what we want for our students, why would we want it for our staff?
What are your thoughts? Professionally speaking, do you think it makes you a better leader if there is no connectivity between your personal life and your professional persona? Is it hard to respect someone you know IRL (in real life) if you’re privy to what they think about a certain store or how their daughter did in soccer over the weekend?