How much are you willing to expose yourself?

ImageOn my recent trip to New York I happened to see the Naked Cowboy in action. He seemed very comfortable in only his hat, underwear and boots and he was putting on quite a show. He’s obviously quite the extrovert and performer and I could not help but think about how comfortable he was exposing himself to thousands of strangers. It got me thinking about how much I’m willing to expose about myself online with blogging and social networking tools. While I may have been timid in the past, I actually find myself becoming more comfortable exposing myself online. My thinking is that it will offer a wider audience some insight into my thinking and personal life.
Let me test out a few scenarios for comment.
1. Friending Colleagues on Facebook – I still remember reading in First Break All the Rules by Buckingham and Coffman that questions #5 is “Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?” As a principal what do you think about friending others from your school on Facebook? Do you see it as a way to learn more about your co-workers and a way to let them into your life? Or, do you see it as a risk?
2. Sharing The Work of Your School on a Blog – Doug Johnson’s guidelines for blogging have always seemed reasonable to me. He suggests that you…
  • Write assuming your boss is reading.
  • Gripe globally; praise locally.
  • Write for edited publications.
  • Write out of goodness.
How much are you willing to share about the work that is going on at your school? Are you only willing to share the positives while you keep the negative issues and conflicts internal?
3. Posting Photos and Media Online for the World to See – This Thursday we’re offering a parent workshop on digital footprints and we’re talking quite a bit about what types of photos and videos we will post online. I recently traveled with a student group to do community service and I was anxious to share photos online via Flickr or some other tool. How do you view the sharing of school related media online?
4. Sharing Your Personal Life Online – If you’re on Facebook how much of your personal life are you willing to share? Does your stance on this have anything to do with your school community? For example, will you post photos of you with alcohol? Are you careful about the language that you use?
Going through the process of determining how much you want to expose yourself can be exciting and scary at the same time. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone in trying to figure out the right level of exposure. I for one don’t plan on parading around in my underwear online but I may be seen in my swimsuit at the beach.

8 thoughts on “How much are you willing to expose yourself?

  1. Hi Blair,

    I actually “unfriended” a number of casual high school acquaintances and started using my Facebook page more for professional sharing. In regards to my sharing online, I feel like I am pretty transparent. The stuff that we say and do shouldn’t really change too much just because we are doing it online. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Just like people can be poor models in person, some folks are poor models with their online etiquette. The fact of the matter is that their shouldn’t be a huge divide between the two.

  2. Educators need to get more comfortable talking about schooling in public, social media channels.

    And administrators need to get more comfortable not having to control everything. School leaders are too controversy-averse and lose organizational growth and learning opportunities as a result.

    Schools that close themselves off from public conversation and interaction lose.

  3. Patrick, interesting about your approach to FB because I’ve always considered FB for my personal use and Twitter for my professional use. What I’m finding now is that maybe I can use FB more professionally, but in ways to develop relationships with my colleagues. I love that moment I’m talking to someone from work and one of us brings up seeing photos from FB. I see it as a way to learn more about their personal lives.
    I agree that online behavior shouldn’t be any different than in person and for most of us it’s not a problem. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    I also like your question, “When does transparency stop?”

  4. Scott, I suppose that you are right about administrators being “too controversy-averse.” I know that I’m very hesitant to stir things up online even though I recognize that it seems to be the best way to get a healthy dialogue going. I’m much more comfortable with being controversial with bigger picture issues. It’s important to do this because it shows where you stand on the topic.
    I really like the idea of being more outspoken online and hope that I can take the plunge. I believe that I have built up credibility at Graded now so the timing is right for me to speak out a bit more online.
    Thanks for the reminder and push.

  5. Hi, Blair, thanks for sharing these questions with us. I think they’re good ones that every educator should ask himself when developing an online presence.
    I think transparency in learning is key. For online social spaces that involve community members, teachers, students, etc., I say, the more information, the better. Keep it focused on learning and school endeavors. Be sure to celebrate with the personal touches that make your school special!
    I think there are some negatives and conflicts that are kept personal…often that is done to protect the parties involved. I think that’s okay. Sometimes we’re able to share our frustrations or concerns about education in such a way that do not incriminate people or specific situations. As Scott mentions, though, the more open we are about controversies or concerns and needs, the more input we may gather, and the more heads can come together to arrive at a solution.
    As far as what educators share on social spaces such as Facebook, I’d agree with Patrick that we have to use common sense as we would in any face-to-face situation. How would you want to appear to your teachers or students if you encountered them on a weekend at a restaurant? There are a lot of ways to share personally with your family and friends and ensure your privacy settings are in place if you do not wish to befriend colleagues. Always keeping in mind, anything you contribute to your digital space is yours to own forever.
    Thanks for this post!

  6. Lyn, I like your statement, “I say, the more information, the better. Keep it focused on learning and school endeavors. Be sure to celebrate with the personal touches that make your school special.” Bringing out what is special about your school can be very powerful.
    It’s the sharing of frustrations while not offending anyone is the one that I have difficulty with. For me, this relates to Scott’s comment about not wanting to discuss controversy. I just have to find ways to frame discussions appropriately and be up front with people in advance. Thanks for sharing your views.

  7. Great post Blair, nice to see that administrators are becoming familiar with the changing tide. I think it is a matter of time where society as a whole will be more open to and forgiving of what we share on line.

    A few years ago, I decided to share nearly every aspect of my life online Since that time I cannot count how many amazing people I have met, how much I have learned and how much I have grown.

  8. Jabiz, As you know, the number of administrators who are changing practices along these lines continues to grow. This is certainly an excellent trend. I can certainly see how you have embraced this approach and it seems to be working for you. I wonder if this is also part of your personality. I can see the benefits, just need to make it a more natural part of my practice. The connections that are made can be so rich in many ways. Connections with our community and with educators throughout the world. Looking forward to heading down this path. Thanks for the comment.

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