Teachers Facebook Content -Think Before Posting
“Social Media can be our best friend or worst enemy.”
Jacksonville Urban League – Leadership Summit
The ability of Facebook to allow educators to share their
thoughts, ideas, and feelings has created a platform that
questions just because you can say something, do you
say something and encourages, think before posting on
any Social Media platform.
The recent firing of counselor, Karon Wright after
she made statements concerning the death of several
people in the West, Texas fertilizer explosion, sparked
discussions of First Amendment rights of Freedom of
Speech and being responsible for what is stated as an
The statement leading to her firing stated by school
district comments made reference that her statements
were, “highly offensive, insensitive to the tragedy
happening to our friends and neighbors in the West,
and disrespectful to the very human bond that we share
with the people of the West, especially those who have
lost their loved ones.”
Social Media allows for quick and unfiltered comments,
this content represents the person and how they perceive
events, people and situations at their level of understanding.
Educators need to remember they are held to a higher
standard when commenting on situations and circumstances
in light of public events.
The counselor employed in Grand Prairie ISD was fired for
making very poor judgment and insensitive comments on
Facebook. Karon Wright was immediately fired after school
administrators received word of a Facebook comment she
made on television stations (WFAA-TV) Facebook page
regarding the explosion in West, Texas.
Educators should never allow frustrations and personal
challenges to prompt posting of inappropriate content
online. A professional educator should always remember
to reposition and refocus their minds to that of
professional educators and the responsibilities they
have to the public. Even when not in the classroom or
on school campuses educators are held accountable for
their actions, including online postings.
In Pickering v. Board of Education case, the Supreme
Court held that it’s not a First Amendment violation
to dismiss probationary teachers for what they say or
write, if their speech involves merely personal things
or if the speech might disturb the workplace.
Unprofessional and inappropriate Internet postings by
college students can be used to prevent them from entering
the teaching profession. This shows unprofessional judgment
and lack of responsibility for the potential effects of their postings.
Young teachers are prone to make rash and unconsidered comments
when using Social Media.
Social Media has created a paradigm shift in the exposure
educators are receiving. Vocal words carry weight, but are
not alone now with text, pictures and video being used to
judge the instructional abilities and professionalism of
That being said, teachers should be mindful of their online
content that is not temporary, but will remain online for
years. Online content can present a distraction that may
cause unforeseen professional ramifications.
The debate continues on an educator’s privacy as
individuals, but in the field of education in many ways
educators and administrators loose privacy when working
in the public spotlight in a profession that has great
exposure. Working with children automatically puts educators
in the spotlight and with the progress of interactivity on
Social Media platforms, growth in Social Networks, and
integration of Web 3.0 protocols (tools) online content
is scrutinized even more whether teachers like it or not.
In any social media situation educators should be careful
of what is said about students, their families, politics
and other discussions. Posted on the web site “The Drum”
it is stated about teachers and students that, ”teachers
(should) keep their private and professional lives separate.”
The statement has proved challenging because increased
access to Social Media has created a hyper-sensitivity to information.
Online information has ramification for years. As I have
shared in presentations with teachers the way you present
yourself online in social media today may be scrutinized
for over 5 years. Teacher evaluations may also be subjected
to Social Media postings as professional behaviors.
Teacher’s will need professional development in media literacy,
Marketing and Branding themselves in this digital world.
The ability to think critically is important when posting
and replying to Social Media content.
Teachers, administrators and support staff should remember
that anything posted online will never go away, it will
always be located some place. Simplistically do not share
or post any information about any student in a social
media environment even if you think your security or
personal settings will protect you.
THEY WILL NOT!!! Be cautious about posting your
ideas and opinions on social issues, religious issues and
political issues that may seem demeaning, insensitive and destructive.
You do have the right to free speech, not demeaning or slanderous.
Educators should make sure that information posted is not
out of frustration, aggravation and argumentation. Social
Media is not the place to vent and even to be sarcastic.
You never know who could be reading your entries, looking
at your photos and videos, importantly who could be telling
others what you said. In the digital age information
is never discarded, it is archived, stored and housed on a
computer sever some place. That is why those in professional positions as educator, physicians, law enforcement, etc must
be mindful of the information they create and share. It could
be used against you in the future and has happened in recent
court cases against educators and even with Homeland Security officials.
Posted on Teachers and the Dangers of Social Networking
(2011) a reminder that, “teaching is a public profession
and it’s a public image issue.”
An educator’s private information through social media is
made public. As we teach students, education will empower
us to make intelligent decisions that affect our lives.
Use information and knowledge to empower and protect
yourself as professional educators and role models in
our respective communities.
More information to support teachers and social media can
be found at:
NEA Social Media Nightmares
NPR – Teachers Beware of Facebook