As I put together all these visuals I started to realize how flexible my identity is. I am the same person if I am Bekah or Ms. Madrid**. But there is a difference in my tone or conversation if I am called one or the other. And my name (and identity) reflects where I am or who I am with. Being called ma’am seemed appropriate when teaching in Texas, despite only being 21***. And “Rebekah-san” makes me smile each time because I feel like I am part of Japan.
As I build my digital identity, I am still struggling how to meld all my different identities in this digital space. It used to be pretty easy to leave Ms. Madrid at school…now she seems to be with me all the time thanks to my iPhone. And it’s much more likely that my students see a non-teacher version of myself with a quick google search or look through my Twitter feed. I’m not always comfortable with that, but it is becoming easier. And while I’m learning what I want to share in this space, it’s still feels strange each time I hit publish.
I wonder how much our students think about this issue. We explicitly teach them at school the concept of digital footprint. They hear over and over again that everything they put online reflects them. We stress the positive and negative effects of creating a digital identity. We want them to be real and share their thoughts and identities in online spaces. We hope they connect with other people across the world using new technologies. It’s imperative that they learn how to do this is a safe and supportive environment. But I wonder if they feel as awkward as it does for me. And while my identity is fluid, I do have a solid sense of self. My middle school students personalities are constantly in flux and they seem to change minute to minute. Are they comfortable documenting their growth and development in a place that never forgets? Or does growing up on Facebook mean that that their online identity is a natural extension of their real-life identity? Or is part of being a middle schooler mean you don’t need/want to think too far into the future. There is a huge value of having students share their growth and ideas online. But there are a lot of questions we need to ask.
Luckily, I have about 60 students entering my classroom tomorrow who will have to put up with another round of random questions from Ms. Madrid.
* I was convinced my college diploma would have Bekah Madrid on it. There are people who don’t know my name is Rebekah. After college, I had the same roommate for over five years and if she called me Rebekah, I would think something was very wrong. My family also calls me Bekah and it is actually probably how I think of myself.
**Don’t call me Becky. Or Mrs. Madrid (that’s my mom). I don’t answer.
***It was traumatic being called ma’am, I’m not going to lie.
**** I signed up for twitter with the user name I used in college (ND =Notre Dame). I only used Twitter to follow random celebrities and comedians. I never in a million years imagined Twitter would be anything that I would use in professional capacity. I don’t particularly love this handle, but I’m stuck with it now and I sign up for everything with that so I have a common name across platforms.
Photos:Notre Dame Trip 2009 by Shoe Gal 23 Here Come the Irish by Dan Braun Australia Map Postcard by Angelstar213 Flag by Rlrog88 Twitter by Xokoto Web Service’s 2.0 by Pipe