I was reminded again what a odd world we live online.
Be careful what you put in cyberspace seems to a common reminder. I have come across this little bit of advice more since beginning my teacher education program. Just recently, an assignment for pre-service teachers to explore adolescent online neighborhoods sparked debate within my cohort.
"What happens when my boss sees that I went to a teen girl website?"
Well, since your education is currently separate from your work place, nothing, since you shouldn't be doing it on work time.
"So I'm supposed to go into some chat room and start talking to kids, but tell them I'm a teacher? That just sounds stupid."
Yes, be upfront about who you are and what you're doing in such an online environment. This is really only a problem if you intend to solicit something inappropriate, sell something illegal, or otherwise hit on one of the kids you talk to. Are you, pre-service teacher, planning on doing any of these things in the course of completing the assignment? Hopefully not. Probably not.
I was struck with how often this concern came up: that being "seen" online would be worse than being seen in person. If you were having a similar conversation with students in the classroom, at a youth gathering, or for the mall in that matter, the concern wouldn't be the same.
I think more important is the idea that you are somehow different online than you are in "real life." Although I keep this blog semi-anonymous (I do hand out the address to friends, coworkers and others that show interest, and they therefore can connect my identity to the things I catalog here) I am no different. I am emotional, sarcastic, direct, blunt, humorous, scathing at times, and I am just the same in person. I have no problem defending the musing and rambling that takes place here if it were to ever be regarded as in appropriate, whether personally or professionally.