More and more employers are analyzing the social media pages of their current and prospective employees to help determine whether they wish for them to begin or continue working for them. This is especially true of teachers, whose child-centered and more public position can be negatively impacted by what they post online. Here, the education-resource providers at SchoolMart discuss tips for using social media as an educator.
Create Separate Personal and Professional Accounts
Some educators may choose to forego social media altogether, but for those who do not, creating a separate personal and professional account is key to maintaining privacy. Use your professional account to interact with employers, colleagues, parents and students, and your private account to interact with friends, family and loved ones. Try to avoid friending coworkers on your personal account, and friends on your professional account. Personal accounts should be set to private, and you may even want to create a test account to see what a stranger would see if they were to stumble upon your social media page.
Consider the Language and Content of What You Post
Whether on a personal or professional account, think carefully about the content you post online. A picture that may seem funny or harmless to you can unfortunately have serious consequences in the workplace. A teacher in Ohio was suspended, pending termination, after she posted a picture on her Facebook page of several students, who she claimed had put duct tape over their mouths after she had given some to a student to repair her binder, with the caption, “Finally found a way to keep them quiet!”
Written posts on social media can have a similar effect: regardless of your opinions on a particular subject, consider whether you would state that opinion in the classroom before posting it online. If it seems inappropriate for the classroom, do not post it to your professional social media page, and think carefully before posting it on even a private account. Although the First Amendment protects speech of all kinds, it does not prevent employers from firing an employee for comments they deem inappropriate or offensive.
Limit Online Interaction with Students, Parents and Co-Workers
It is important to maintain a professional relationship with your students, their parents and your co-workers, but social media can often blur these lines. If you wish to use social media as a place where students can ask questions and collaborate, keep conversations strictly to school-related topics. Avoid personal or private discussion with students, and only interact with them on your professional accounts. The same standards should be applied to student’s parents and your co-workers. If a student, parent or co-worker interacts with you online in an inappropriate fashion, document the interaction, refrain from further communication with them and report the incident to a supervisor promptly.
Find Resources for Educators at Schoolmart
Social media, when integrated properly, can be a valuable educational tool, however, it must be used responsibly and carefully. Following these guidelines can help prevent you from risking your reputation or career in education.
As we progress through the Digital Age, our classrooms become more dependent on technology. If you are an educator who would like to learn more about the technologies and educational resources available to teachers, visit SchoolMart today for more information about our products.