The challenge to professionals of using social media: teachers in England negotiating personal-professional identities
journal contributionposted on 16.10.2015, 15:33 by Alison R. C. Fox, Terese M. Bird
Social media are a group of technologies such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn which offer people chances to interact with one another in new ways. Teachers, like other members of society, do not all use social media. Some avoid, some experiment with and others embrace social media enthusiastically. As a means of communication available to everyone in modern society, social media is challenging teachers, as other professionals in society, to decide whether to engage with these tools and, if so, on what basis – as an individual (personally), or as a teacher (professionally). Although teachers are guided by schools and codes of practice, teachers as individuals are left to decide whether and how to explore social media for either their own or their students’ learning. This paper analyses evidence from interviews with 12 teachers from England about their use of social media as to the challenges they experience in relation to using the media as professional teachers and/or personally. Teachers are in society’s spotlight in terms of examples of inappropriate use of social media but also under peer pressure to connect. This paper shows their agency in responding. The paper focuses on how they deal with tensions between their personal and professional use of social media. These tensions are not always perceived as negative and some teachers’ accounts revealed a unity in their identities when using social media. The paper reflects on the implications of such teachers’ identities in relation to the future of social media use in education.