By Teachers, For Teachers
With more and more teachers using social media as part of their technology in the classroom plans than ever before, some of you may, or may know, what the rules and regulations are for an educator. You even may be skeptical to use social media because of the news stories of teachers getting disciplined for tweets, photos, or status updates that are deemed inappropriate. Whether your school district has technology in the classroom social media policies in place or not, it’s important to know the basic rules of using this platform if you are a teacher. Here are a few dos and don’ts that all educators must know about when using any type of social media technology in the classroom.
Don’t - “Friend” or “Follow” any of your students on your personal social media accounts or allow any student to follow you. It’s also wise to not interact online with any of your students’ parents, either. Twitter allows you to block students that follow you, while Instagram and Facebook can be set to private so you can decide who you want to connect with and who don’t.
Don’t - Affiliate yourself with the school that you are working at, but you can, however, state the school district that you are working in. For example, do not say that you work at “Douglas J. Intermediate School,” instead you can say that you work for “Starpoint School District.” Some teachers like to use their middle names as their last names on their personal accounts too, because it’s harder for the students or parents to find them that way.
Don’t - Post pictures of your any of students on your private social media accounts. Each parent has her own beliefs, and it’s not your place to share any picture of children who are not yours. If you have a classroom social media account that parents signed off on, only then can you post a photo of someone else’s child on a social media platform.
Don’t - Ever mention your school in a private post or complain about your teaching job on any social media platform. If your coworkers follow you on your private social media accounts, then anything that you post (negative or positive) can come back to get you.
Don’t – Ever post anything during school hours when you are at work. If you want, you can schedule your posts ahead of time, but don’t post when you are supposed to be working. If your employer found out, you could get into trouble.
Do - Keep your profile pictures free of inappropriate behaviors. For example, a nice picture of yourself or your family is appropriate. Almost all social media profile pictures are public, which means that anyone can view your photograph. You do not want an inappropriate picture of yourself (for instance, you under the influence at a party) to appear on a public search engine for all to see.
Do - Select a couple of social media accounts to connect with family, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sites like Google +, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are great to connect with other professional educators.
Do - Control your privacy settings. Make sure that you are in-the-know about all privacy rules and regulations for each social media platform that you are on. Set your Instagram to private so you can approve anyone that follows you. Make sure to check your Facebook settings frequently, because they are known to change their privacy rules almost monthly, and check Twitter settings to make sure that your tweets are protected and only you can tag photos and such. If you are going to be on social media, your students will look you up so make sure you are ready for that.
Do - Post with care if you are posting or tagging a photograph of one of your colleagues. You would not want an unflattering picture of yourself for all to see. Make sure that you always get permission before posting a picture of someone else and make sure that you are cautious of anything that you post online.
Do - Remember that teachers are held to a high standard. Society looks to you to have good morals and values. So it’s extremely important for you to always think before you act and post.
Your job as an educator is to serve as a role model. Even when you are not in school, you are still representing your school district. Make sure to always follow your school district’s guidelines regarding being on social media and remember to always be professional and appropriate on as well as offline.
What is your take on social media for teachers? Are there any technology in the classroom dos and don’ts that we missed? Teach us how you use social media in the comment section below. We’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.