My Quest To Teach

March 15, 2012

“My Bad” Emails, Think Before You Click

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Jackson @ 8:47 pm
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Check Emails

Email Safety

“My Bad” Emails, Think Before You Click




This blog stems from the result of the events from
an incident in DCPS concerning the questionable
use of email. Teachers, administrators and support
personnel of any school, should understand that
the resources provided are NOT intended for per-
sonal use, but the use for educational
purposes in communication and transferring
of data.

This blog in NO WAY blames, nor accuses anyone
of any actions, just highlights the events from
news stories and Internet links as a teaching
opportunity for others in the field of education.
When using electronic communication any pro-
fessional no matter what field of profession
should be careful, cautions and vigilant in the
use of equipment and resources for commun-
ication in any online environment.

Link to online story….

Educational professionals as professionals in
other careers at times do speak before they
think and in some recent cases click before they
think. Teachers have been disciplined to various
degrees because of lack of fore thought in sending
and forwarding emails that seem inappropriate,
insensitive and potentially racially/culturally charged.
As a School Technology Contact  and teacher of
Educational Technology in higher education I
|remind and reinforce for by educational peers and
students the importance of being cautious with
electronic communication.

There has been an incident of a teacher’s possible
suspension for a potentially controversial email.
Any situation that puts an educator, administrator
or other school employee at risk for disciplinary
action, suspension, reprimand or firing is a learning
opportunity for everyone. Students learn from their
mistakes in the classroom so educators must learn
from the mistakes of their professional peers.

A recent story by Topher Sanders; that a teacher
in DCPS maybe suspended for bad judgement and
inappropriate actions in replying/forwarding
an email.The incident relates to a forwarded email
in January (yes January) ridiculing a supposed
Louisiana mother and child for the child having an
unusual name. In the email, the original author
says the mother was upset because her child’s
name is often mispronounced. The email’s contents
have been circulating on the web since at least
2008 (yes 2008). Information on the web never
goes away.

This shows that as in other blogs I’ve written
about the permanency of digital content that
information on the Internet does not go away.
It is always there backed up or housed on a
server or someone body’s computer some place.
Emails, photos, videos, movies, tweets, texts
and so on are stored some place. Words, phrases,
and comments can be misunderstood, misinterpreted
and misquoted when the content is text and audio
in an online environment.

Educators must be careful when posting, for-
warding and replying because THEIR original
intent in the message or their reply may be
misunderstood. Once the Send button is clicked
it is more than “My Bad” it can lead to legal and
professional challenges.  Just as students are
asked during discussions in classroom learning
“is that really what you want to say” or something
similar, can be applied to teachers and electronic

In the email in question, the email ends with the
phrase “they live among us, they vote, and they
breed.” Worse things have been potentially stated
about groups, but the statement may imply a part-
icular rationality and ideology. Teachers must be
careful that they as professional educators, leaders
of children and community influencers, educator’s
actions just as police, attorneys, doctors and other
professionals in the public eye are scrutinized harder
and closer.

The statement by the DCPS employee as it was
forwarded was “Sounds like some of ours?” The
only person that truly knows the intention of the text
comment was the teacher, but the interpretation
was taken.

There is always room for caution when replying to
or forwarding any electronic communication. In a
personal note I have selected Reply All
instead of Reply only to be told later of my error.
When the Send button is clicked it is too late. That
message cannot be recalled, so teachers,
administrators and others in education be careful,
think before you click.

As a result there is much discussion about the intent
of the forward message. Even when realizing a
mistake it takes more than an apology as can be seen
by this case. When something is interpreted as
inappropriate by others no amount of apology, asking
for leniency, forgiveness and mercy sometimes
will not help.

Teachers as in this case must remember that
email accounts and equipment
are not for personal use, so in the minds of all;
any information can be pulled from a person’s
account when needed. So all digital content can
be found out; logs about web sites visited, when,
how often, and either from work or if a educator or
administrator takes their computer home these can
be identified as well. Computers have web histories,
cookies, cache, favorites, history and other digital
reminders built into web browsers and software.

The potential for reprimands, firing, suspension, and
disciplinary letters in professional folders should be
on the minds of those in education.  Is yourcareer
worth that joke, quick remark or sly comment? Do
you need  your face and your family’s name on the
news because of an online comment about a
student, a student’s family or another teacher?

A teacher needs to make sure of how their actions
are interpreted. If the situation permits advice from
other professionals should be asked that any
communication is not considered intended to ridicule
and denigrate a cultural minority, person, or group.
We live in a time where people especially parents
are very sensitive about their children’s name. Any
type of criticism can be met with legal actions.

Respect should always be shown to parents and
children. Familiarization with a child’s background,
name, parental legalities and more should be
understood, if not ask first..

Techer’s work together to make sure children are
successful, so teachers, administrators,  and other
school personnel be mindful of the responsibility
as a role model and mentor. We do not have the
leasurly to let our guards down in our high profile
careers. Technology can be a vital tool, but is can
also be a curse and bring back past mistakes. Be
cautious, be educated and be aware.

Teachers and Blogging

Caution for your Digital Content

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