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View Full Version : Social Media. Teaching and the Code of Ethics



Kae
08-18-2011, 02:44 PM
Things like this scare me a lot.

http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/6/article/54501/


How do you feel about it? I am wondering if I am so sensitive to it because it could directly affect me and mine. It doesn't help that Texas updated their code of ethics and included a social media section. It does not appear that we are moving into the future.
Kae

Morgan Ravynswood
08-18-2011, 03:44 PM
I'm careful of what I post and who sees it. My profile is very private, and I don't have the school district that I work in posted. In fact, I don't have any work history posted. I also am not friends with students, although there are 2 that I don't teach anymore that I am friends with.
The other thing I have is a second profile, that I use primarily for 1 game that I play, and I have posted some pictures there that I would never put on my other profile. Nothing too crazy, just some pics of me in a bodice that I may not want to everyone to see, but only those that really know me.

It's all about discretion. I don't think the district I work in has a policy yet, but more of "Use your best judgement".

Just had a thought that related to here. There are times when I don't wear my pin to Faire, because I don't want my behavior to reflect on the Guild, in the event I do something dumb (rare, but always a possibility when alcohol is involved). Same thing with my FB page. I don't have it listed where I work, because I don't want my actions to reflect on my place of work.

My 2 pence.... FWIW

Gemdrite
08-18-2011, 08:51 PM
Things like this scare me a lot.

http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/6/article/54501/


How do you feel about it? I am wondering if I am so sensitive to it because it could directly affect me and mine. It doesn't help that Texas updated their code of ethics and included a social media section. It does not appear that we are moving into the future.
Kae
I'm with you, Kae, but again, I'm in the same profession. However, the one thing that stuck with me was the line about, "If you wouldn't do it in person, don't do it online." I'm sorry, but that line gets really blurred on Facebook. If I wouldn't do it in person....where? At school? Hanging out with friends? At the movies? At a restaurant? I act differently depending on where I am. For me, this is just a way to punish teachers for having a life outside of the classroom. It's already hard enough to separate life and work, particularly since often I have to take work home with me, and now I can't be myself on Facebook or Twitter either? If a parent doesn't like what I am posting here on the Wenches forum, I could get fired? As much as I try to keep my profile on Facebook locked down so that only what I want seen gets seen, the sad reality is, Facebook changes it's security so often it's hard to keep up, and even if I am vigilant, I can't keep people from viewing my profile at someone else's house. So, if I want to make absolutely sure that nothing is seen....I can't be on any social network, forum, website, or have any pictures taken of me that someone else might post. Hmm...nice way to live.

AnnaFaerie
08-18-2011, 09:14 PM
As awful as this seems let us remember the "old days".

When I was in school it was terrible for teachers.

I lived next door to a couple of my teachers.

One teacher smoked and she couldn't smoke in public. Can you imagine that? It was in the early sixties.

These women both dated, but had to keep a very low profile.

It is like stepping back a generation. *sigh*

Go back a hundred years and it was even worse for teachers.

None of you get paid enough.

Torra
08-22-2011, 04:39 PM
I've been following this case, and it's a sticky one. IIRC, the district did not have a social media policy in place at the time. Every place needs one. Whole problem avoided. I have no problem with her being fired over that if it happened as the news first reported it (see this story (http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2009/11/13/barrow-teacher-done-in-by-anonymous-e-mail-with-perfect-punctuation/) for what I agree happened). I don't think that's the case here, but as a member of my employer's social media team, I can say she didn't go about it well. She should have had a professional Facebook and a personal one. All her work friends should be on the professional one. No status updates go on the professional page that have anything to do with non-work activities/news/etc. I understand she thought her personal FB was locked down tight as could be, and it probably was, but with social media letting us blur the lines as Gem pointed out, we can forget which hat we're wearing. It's better if we separate them, instead of trying to bring everything under one umbrella.

Had she done that, there would have been no parent, no teacher or coworker, who would have seen the status update that sparked the whole thing. You can argue she shouldn't have to take steps like that to separate her professional and social spheres because there could be overlap, but I believe that work friends, with a rare and long-in-the-making exception, aren't really interested in your personal life, and nor are your friends really interested in the update from Teaching Quarterly (unless some are also teachers - then you repost to your personal page). And ultimately, protecting ourselves from those who seek to destroy online reputations is our responsibility.

Gemdrite
08-22-2011, 10:47 PM
I've been following this case, and it's a sticky one. IIRC, the district did not have a social media policy in place at the time. Every place needs one. Whole problem avoided. I have no problem with her being fired over that if it happened as the news first reported it (see this story (http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2009/11/13/barrow-teacher-done-in-by-anonymous-e-mail-with-perfect-punctuation/) for what I agree happened). I don't think that's the case here, but as a member of my employer's social media team, I can say she didn't go about it well. She should have had a professional Facebook and a personal one. All her work friends should be on the professional one. No status updates go on the professional page that have anything to do with non-work activities/news/etc. I understand she thought her personal FB was locked down tight as could be, and it probably was, but with social media letting us blur the lines as Gem pointed out, we can forget which hat we're wearing. It's better if we separate them, instead of trying to bring everything under one umbrella.

Had she done that, there would have been no parent, no teacher or coworker, who would have seen the status update that sparked the whole thing. You can argue she shouldn't have to take steps like that to separate her professional and social spheres because there could be overlap, but I believe that work friends, with a rare and long-in-the-making exception, aren't really interested in your personal life, and nor are your friends really interested in the update from Teaching Quarterly (unless some are also teachers - then you repost to your personal page). And ultimately, protecting ourselves from those who seek to destroy online reputations is our responsibility.
If it occurred as the article you posted says, I am even MORE against her termination. There doesn't appear to be any proof an actual student or parent saw her Facebook page. There doesn't appear to have been any investigation done to prove whether or not this actually influenced any students whatsoever. And I find it very infuriating that a picture of a teacher smiling holding an alcoholic beverage is somehow offensive to anybody. What happened to "grownups can have it, you can't, end of story?" Your theory that teachers should have two profiles, one professional and one personal, wouldn't have prevented this situation. Her personal profile was only available to her friends. No parents, no students. So if a student saw this, they saw it via somebody else who was a friend of hers. Having a separate profile wouldn't have changed that. If it wasn't a student or parent, but another teacher, well, she apparently thought that teacher was her friend. I know I don't have all of my coworkers as friends on Facebook, but I do have some that I consider friendly enough to be friends on Facebook. If she takes offense at something I post and goes to the school about it, I would hope the school would have the sense to say, "Well then stop being her friend, but having an adult beverage and swearing on her own time, in her personal life, is not something we discipline here." Is her swearing on Facebook (that again, is closed to all but her friends) any different than her swearing at a party of friends in the middle of summer? Why? Because it's documented as opposed to hearsay? Does that make it any more or less wrong?

Ultimately, I think this country is really screwing itself when it comes to teachers. Keep taking away our rights, keep lowering our pay, keep chipping away at our budgets, but remember, you get what you pay for. Eventually, they are going to make teaching so unsavory that only unsavory people will want to teach. And then where will we be?

Torra
08-23-2011, 07:27 AM
Your theory that teachers should have two profiles, one professional and one personal, wouldn't have prevented this situation. Her personal profile was only available to her friends. No parents, no students. So if a student saw this, they saw it via somebody else who was a friend of hers. Having a separate profile wouldn't have changed that. If it wasn't a student or parent, but another teacher, well, she apparently thought that teacher was her friend.

I agree the termination was wrongful, 100%. But I'm convinced no parent or student saw her page, due to her allegation that none are her friends and because of the language/structure of the anonymous note. It's sad that an anonymous note was given the credence it was, and she definitely deserves to have her job back/be compensated.

But had she had two profiles, and put all her work friends on her professional profile, they never would have seen the comment. We don't know what her habits are as far as accepting friend requests (probably not willy-nilly yeses, given the security of her profile), but I still maintain that the best course of action would be to have two profiles and double post, if needed. You're right, that the school should have told whoever sent the email to grow up and move on, but there was no way to contact said person. Overall, I think it's likely that if the school had waited until they'd investigated the anonymous claim, per their own policy, then come to her, or made it clearer there would be an investigation, then she wouldn't have felt the pressure to resign. But you can't trust people to always follow policy, and it's up to you to protect yourself from slander as best you can.

Kae
08-23-2011, 05:49 PM
Agreed, it is up to us to protect ourselves as best we can. However; when teachers have to hide the fact that they have lives - perfectly acceptable lives - outside of their work, it has gone back to the "one room school room" days. Are they going to start firing teachers who have live in partners? Who practice a religion different than the norm of the community? Who adopt children of different racial backgrounds? Who work a second job to make ends meet and that job might be as a bartender? All of these things could be interpreted as being issues that could cause the community to lose faith in the teacher or the educational ability of the district. All of us of have THAT clause in our contracts.

I feel that going done that track, we are on a very dangerous slope. I am told to build relationships with my students. I am told if a student can relate to me, their learning experience will be better. A student cannot relate to me if they think I am a paragon of virtue. I have to feel able to share and relate. I should not have to worry about everything I do. Yes, I need to be careful and edit what the students and their parents are aware of but I should not have to create separate lives. This will push very good teachers out of education. We cannot afford that.
Kae

Gemdrite
08-24-2011, 01:11 AM
I agree the termination was wrongful, 100%. But I'm convinced no parent or student saw her page, due to her allegation that none are her friends and because of the language/structure of the anonymous note. It's sad that an anonymous note was given the credence it was, and she definitely deserves to have her job back/be compensated.
Okay, I apologize then, I read your first post wrong. It sounded to me like you thought that, *because* it wasn't a parent or student, she should lose her job. Which didn't make sense to me.


But had she had two profiles, and put all her work friends on her professional profile, they never would have seen the comment. We don't know what her habits are as far as accepting friend requests (probably not willy-nilly yeses, given the security of her profile), but I still maintain that the best course of action would be to have two profiles and double post, if needed. You're right, that the school should have told whoever sent the email to grow up and move on, but there was no way to contact said person. Overall, I think it's likely that if the school had waited until they'd investigated the anonymous claim, per their own policy, then come to her, or made it clearer there would be an investigation, then she wouldn't have felt the pressure to resign. But you can't trust people to always follow policy, and it's up to you to protect yourself from slander as best you can.
Here's the thing. Why should I have to have two lives? Why should anybody? I do the best that I can to not do things that would be considered inappropriate. Should I stop going to ren faires, or stop wearing a bodice, because one of my students might see? Should I make sure that any alcohol that I rightfully purchase at a store is covered up with other groceries in case a parent and/or student might be shopping at the same store? I don't smoke, but if I did, should I not smoke outside my own house because someone might walk past and see? What happened to "I'm an adult, you are not, and there are things that I can do as a grown up that you cannot do yet. When you grow up, you can make your own choices." ? How are kids supposed to learn common sense if grown ups refuse to use it?

Redbird Annie Cardinal
08-24-2011, 06:56 AM
Agreed, it is up to us to protect ourselves as best we can. However; when teachers have to hide the fact that they have lives - perfectly acceptable lives - outside of their work, it has gone back to the "one room school room" days. Are they going to start firing teachers who have live in partners? Who practice a religion different than the norm of the community? Who adopt children of different racial backgrounds? Who work a second job to make ends meet and that job might be as a bartender? All of these things could be interpreted as being issues that could cause the community to lose faith in the teacher or the educational ability of the district. All of us of have THAT clause in our contracts.

I feel that going done that track, we are on a very dangerous slope. I am told to build relationships with my students. I am told if a student can relate to me, their learning experience will be better. A student cannot relate to me if they think I am a paragon of virtue. I have to feel able to share and relate. I should not have to worry about everything I do. Yes, I need to be careful and edit what the students and their parents are aware of but I should not have to create separate lives. This will push very good teachers out of education. We cannot afford that.
Kae

About your question, "Who practice a religion different than the norm of the community?"

My girlfriend taught in a Catholic school. She was divorced but had had it annulled through the church. She met a wonderful man that she eventually married. However, he wasn't Catholic. She was brought in by the principal to her office and told that when she came back to school after her honeymoon, she could tell everyone her new name, but she couldn't talk about her wedding, honeymoon, or marriage, no pictures, etc. Since he wasn't Catholic, in the eyes of the church, they weren't married, and she was living in sin.

She did what was asked of her, resigned at the end of the school year, and got a job elsewhere. Sadly, they lost a wonderful teacher, and she is still happily married. She left the Catholic Church and now goes to the church of her husband, where she doesn't feel judged.

Now, this is not a bashing of Catholics or the Catholic Church. This is just an example of a policy which caused a school to lose a good teacher.

Kae
08-24-2011, 09:41 AM
Yes, but that was a private school. They base their education and their enrollment on their catholic beliefs. If I was employed or looking for employment at a private school, I would expect to show credance to their beliefs - at the very least. And still - in a private school - I would believe I had the right to a life. If my life differed with what my employer promoted - I would have to keep it seperate. In this case, the life the teacher led was not against the beliefs of our country - for that is who she worked for.
Kae