The Identity Web

June 27, 2016


 Participating in a conversation about equity at High Tech High typically begins by constructing an identity web. I have made several identity webs in the past so constructing a new web to begin a deeper exploration of my own story seems like a logical place to start. Before beginning my current identity web I reflected about my experiences with my previous webs wondering, "how will this one be different?"


I made my first identity web almost a year ago. I'll be honest. It was an uncomfortable experience for me. I was instructed to write my name in the center of a piece of paper and draw a circle around it. The directions are straightforward: “Write your name in the center circle.  Each additional circle should contain a word or phrase that captures some element of your identity.  This means those terms or descriptors that have most helped shape who you are as a person, how you interact with the world or how you are impacted by the world.”  I remember sitting and staring at the paper. Who am I? Am I doing this right? What are other people writing? Is mine too boring? Am I bragging? Before I knew it we had 1- minute left and I had written, “daughter,” “sister...” I quickly jotted down a few more descriptors and then breathed a huge sigh of relief when I found out we were not sharing our identity webs with anyone, they were just for us to gather our own thoughts.


The next significant experience I had with an identity web was 4 months ago. This time the tables had turned. I was leading a group of people through the same activity I had participated in early last year. In preparation for the activity I decided I would share my own identity web with the group as an example. I drew my circles and filled in some words and phrases. Ideas flowed more easily this time. I explained the the activity to the group and quickly drew my identity web on the board for everyone to see. Then, something unexpected happened. As I walked the group through my example, I felt a lump forming at the back of my throat. I could hear my voice becoming shaky and I felt a slight burning sensation in my eyes. Was I going to cry?! I realized this web was a much better representation of what’s at my core than my first web had been and when I shared these deeper parts of myself with a group of strangers, I realized how vulnerable I had become.

Uncovering my own vulnerabilities and being able to share with others what inspires me, what drives me, what gives me pause, and where I need help is simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. In that moment, a strange weight was lifted off my shoulders and my desire to articulate how my past experience shaped me as an educator became a new quest. As John Dewey wisely shared, we don't learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. So, with that reflection, I think I am ready to begin. It's simple, right? I am going to write my name in a circle on a piece of paper, and then begin connecting words and phrases in circles about who I am as a person and how I interact with the world. What about you? Are you ready?

Please reload

Featured Posts

What's your problem?

September 9, 2017

Please reload

Recent Posts

August 24, 2018

September 24, 2017

September 9, 2017

September 3, 2017

September 26, 2016

Please reload

Please reload

Search By Tags
Follow Me
  • LinkedIn Social Icon