Teachers Don’t Let Social Media Get You Fired
We are around our coworkers a lot during the day, every day. We sometimes are
closer than our own family in some ways because of shared experiences, shared
lunches and even school field trips. So it can only be expected that coworkers get
on our nerves from time to time. Because of the close proximity be careful what you
say if you ever feel the need to vent your frustrations, it might land you in trouble.
By “trouble” that could mean disciplinary action, suspension or fired landing you in
the unemployment line.
Social Media Tips for Teachers
The use of Social Media is an inviting media to vent anger or frustrations about a day
on the job especially if you are a educator. Multiple responsibilities in school combined
with morning and afternoon routines and duties, assessment deadlines, classroom
management issues, lesson plan development, parent/teacher conferences, and
meetings create an atmosphere of stress.
Days seem to run together filled with challenges and seem not end even in the comfort
of a teacher’s home. Teachers are the one profession even after a day of teaching,
counseling, assessments, meetings and related duties work is often still brought home.
This creates bottled up emotions that contribute to frustration, anger and stress.
Venting is not the problem, the use of Social Media has created a platform where
the professionalism of teachers has been questioned because of the language
used and the intensity of emotions are shared. Social media has gone
through an evolutionary stage
where text is not the only tool, the integration of video and audio elements create an
expressive and interactive component, the other component is that comments, video
and other content are easily shared. Thus making Social Media an interesting and
deadly platform to talk about others.
A Massachusetts school administrator resigned after posting on her Facebook page
that the parents in her upscale town were “arrogant” and “snobby”, writing in a joking
fashion, a Professor wrote: “Does anyone know where I can find a very discrete Hitman?
Photos once posted can be saved to another person’s computer or a screenshot made
to be saved. An example, postings included photos of female teachers in sexually
suggestive poses in their classrooms, and a male teacher who listed “Chillin wit my
n—as” as a weekend activity holding a alcoholic beverage.
Teachers must understand that their content can be taken out of context by those that
see these messages. People hold district and school administrators to a higher level of
professional expectations. Even teachers report other teachers in a profession that prides
itself on professional respect.
One of the misunderstood things about Social Media are the security settings of
sites like Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn. Teachers must be sure to make their comments,
postings and pictures private. This adds an extra protection, but caution should be used
when befriending parents and students. Teachers unless related to classroom projects
should NEVER have students as Facebook friends because of the potential for
inappropriate content posted or a misunderstanding in a relationship with that student
or their parents. Facebook projects should be separate from personal accounts.
The realities of life are that certain jobs have always restricted what a person can say
in any kind of public setting especially on Social Media. I grew up in a teachers family
so my mother would always warn me not to repeat what I or my siblings over heard.
The problem for teachers today, particularly young teachers, is that new era technology
has bamboozled people into thinking that they can have an online privacy life. It’s just
not smart to think this way.
I’m a parent, a blogger, an educator in elementary education and an Adjunct teaching
Educational Technology at a college, so I balance my life as a parent, a teacher then
when I blog I make sure it is content that is helpful and relevant. When involved in my
community on Boards, in my church as the Social Media manager I have an additional
responsibility to manage what I post and how I post. Reflection on my content is
always thought of and how it is interpreted in my community. It is important in how
I’m perceived and respected.
Some suggestions to my educational peers are:
1. Don’t friend students nor their family members
2. Don’t put your student’s pictures on your Facebook Page
3. Don’t text your students about new content on your FB, Blogs,
Instagram, Tumblr or other Social Media Platforms.
4. Be careful of your wording and mentioning your school, teachers,
administration, support staff, students and families. Some or many
of them could be friends with friends of friends.
5. Do not post during meetings on school time you can be held
accountable for your time.
6. Remember your school email is open to the public. Be careful of
who, whom and what you email. Emails can be court ordered to view the content.
7. Caution in emailing parents, before you email make sure your administrator
is CC’d and a spelling, grammar, and content is checked.
8. In any electronic communication do not criticize educational peers in any manner.
You may be held liable for slander, defamation of character.
9. Portable devices like laptops, iPad, etc used for school is not your personal
equipment. Do not allow your personal children to use these for entertainment.
Do not load personal software on your school computers, I personally have
had to clean up too many laptop because of adult content viewed by
teacher’s children, spouses and family members.
10. Each school district has an AUP that needs to be familiar with by teachers.
Don’t ignore it, toss it to the side or throw it away, read it to CYA and use