Personal vs. Professional

In the world of social media, the line gets gray…

At the Klingenstein Summer Institute, they asked us to write down “questions we are living.” I love the idea of living a question because conceptualizing a question this way allows space to explore it through everyday experiences and think about it without seeking one answer. For example, at the time, I wrote:

  • What is good enough?
  • Who inspires me? Do I inspire my students?
  • How can I make the greatest impact? Is it in schools? Is it in policy? Education law? Direct leadership?

A question that I am living right now is,

Where is the line between personal and professional?”

This is called “Single Identity Transparency,” where our online presence is the same as our offline self. There are legitimate reasons for being who you are and their are legitimate reasons for being anonymous. (Changing your name to be on Facebook underage is NOT one of them…)

Here are a couple (12) infographics about the internet and identity.

Usernames & accounts. I tweet with the handle @pdxkali. When I created this username, I didn’t think too hard about whether this would be a personal or professional account. I have kept it because too much content is associated with this account now that I wouldn’t want to lose, but I wish now that I was @julierobison because it is a professional account. I don’t do a whole lot of personal tweeting, though I occasionally share something about being a new mom.

In contrast, a few people that I follow on twitter for their educational comments put personal content like pictures from vacation or check-ins at events that I don’t really care about. Their twitter feed is primarily personal. (I should probably unfollow them and just subscribe to their blogs…)

A couple of my colleagues decided to make two usernames, one for personal and one for professional, but I was mentioning the wrong one in my tweets or they wouldn’t be paying attention to both feeds.

I have always kept separate work and personal email addresses, because if I leave a job, I don’t want any accounts tied to an email address I no longer have access to.

When I started blogging, I initially created the oesmstech.wordpress.com and was blogging as the middle school tech coordinator. When I started to write more personal posts, like this one, I wanted it associated with me, not with my position.

Devices. We have been piloting iPad minis right now, and a colleague who already owns one, asked if he could borrow one for school use. Realistically, though, carrying around another device is just going to confuse things and wouldn’t he rather just have everything in one place? iOS devices are increasingly designed to be personal and group management of them is difficult. So should schools buy iOS devices for employees and have them use their personal accounts?

I carry around my iPhone all day at work. Sometimes I answer personal text messages, but the tech department often goes between email, text, or calls to reach each other. It’s beneficial to the school for me to use this device for my job, but I pay for it. On trips, we often use our phones for finding directions or emailing parents or taking pictures.

Boarding schools. As a dorm parent, I live where I work. I can see into classrooms out my front door. Kids see me on the weekends after a workout or at dinner feeding my 7 month old mashed peas. Clearly, I have accepted a blurrier line than most!

Final thoughts:

  • I feel comfortable with my current blend of professional and personal, though sometimes if feels like the workday never ends. (And at boarding schools, you are never really off duty until vacation!) I love my job and spend a lot of time outside of M-F 8-4pm thinking about education and teaching anyway.
  • People who are not connected to me via social media (professionally or personally) don’t know me as well.
  • Perhaps blending personal and professional allows us to see each other as more human? Maybe in workplaces where this happens there is greater social cohesion?
  • This whole idea of separate identities is very industrial-age with the idea that you go to a specific place for a specific length of time to do work.
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