Recently I have been finding some articles about social media websites and the dilemma that they pose for educators. This is a subject that I have had questions about for a long time.
The article “Social media poses dilemma for Western Pennsylvania teachers” describes exactly what I am unsure about. What are the boundaries for teachers with social media? As the article says, teachers have a life outside of the classroom and what they do on their own time should not be a concern of the school board that they work for unless their out-of-class behaviour is unacceptable. This poses the question about Facebook; should teachers be allowed to add students on Facebook? Should content on a teacher’s Facebook page be of concern to the school board?
In the article, a teacher was suspended from work for a picture posted on her Facebook profile page. The article continues to discuss a number of outlooks on teacher-use of social media from different school boards. “The laws really haven’t caught up with what’s out there,” is a quote from Steve Weitzman, Pennsylvania Department of Education spokesman, which is a large reason as to why I have a question about educators using social media.
When I was in high school I had some teachers who would be “Facebook friends” with a student once they graduated and were no longer a student in their school division, while other teachers were “friends” with students to pass along messages for extra-curricular teams and clubs, some teachers were even related to some students or had a connection outside of school that lead to their “Facebook friend” status. As I entered university, I was continuously warned about keeping my Facebook profile “professional” and that it could be the difference between getting a job and not getting a job. Some profs have recommended deleting Facebook, tightening up privacy settings, or just cleaning up inappropriate posts and pictures.
As I am quickly approaching my pre-internship and internship semesters, I am faced with the question of where to draw the line when it comes to social media? Over the past two years I have been an assistant coach at a local high school and have become “Facebook friends” with some of the players I have coached, who will still be in high school when I become a teacher. Should I delete these individuals from my friend list? Or limit the content that they can see on my profile? What about students I will be teaching in the future?
Where do current educators stand on this topic? Do you keep your Twitter posts public, or lock them? Do you add students to Facebook, wait until they graduate, or never add them at all? Should school boards have control over what teachers can and cannot post on their own time?