I don't know how much I communicate with my students.
OK. That was a bit of a setup but the point is, I know how much I talk to them at work when they're sitting in front of me and I know how much we communicate via email and Moodle but what about outside that? I have a twitter account and a smallish blog, I am on the TED ED forum and follow a number of people's blogs and vlogs. I tweet, blog and comment online. How much of this is seen by my students? Maybe none and maybe all.
In the old days there were students and there were teachers. The teachers were up here and the
students were down there. Students called us Marm, Miss and Sir or at the very least Mr and Mrs. The teachers and the students didn't know no care what happened to the other after the bell.
I remember running into a teacher at the shops as a kid and it was a weird, awkward experience. She was still my teacher but they were in trackies and pushing a trolley. She still talked to me as if I was in her classroom and I still called her Mrs.
I know that one of my senior students is on the same TED ED forum as me and I'm not sure what handle she uses. If I get a comment from a student on twitter I don't always know to identify them and they call me @hogesonline. This sets up a weird situation. There is a democratising property to the internet that means that I am not the teacher and they are not the student; we are both subscribers.
Does this mean I should stop tweeting, blogging and commenting in forums. I don't think so. I think it means that I should be careful what I share and unlike Natalie Munro never forget that *anyone* could be reading .
It kind of lends a sense of superficiality to the exchanges with students at school where they still call me Mrs Hogan in the classroom, knowing that they will tweet me a questions to my handle that night. I don't believe that calling me Mrs__________ adds to the students' respect for me. I think as this kind of confusion of roles becomes more prevalent we might come to our senses and stop trying to impose a false autocracy in the classroom. Maybe that makes me "New Age" and I'm sure the eduverse has had this discussion before and often. All I know is I have tweeted to Mark Colvin (@Colvinus) - lead anchor of the AM program on ABC Radio - and got a reply and I couldn't do that in the old world.
Thanks to frankjuarez on Flickr for the use of the image.