Educators have a visible place in their communities, and lately, so many are finding themselves under the microscope for everything they say, wear, post in their classroom or online or elsewhere. There isn’t much an educator does that cannot be scrutinized by a member of the community-it’s the nature of the job whether you like it or not.
The choices you make, even when well-intended, can affect your families, jobs, schools and profession. The following information is intended to help educators while they’re not working, and when social media can blur the line between work and personal life.
Be smarter than your smart phone
Tip 1: Maintain good moral character online. Remember, while there are no state laws in Maine that speak to a professional code of conduct for educators, the State does have rules regarding behavior for those who work in public schools. According to the rules, following a criminal history record check, educators must “furnish evidence of good moral character when requested.” This rule would apply to your personal social media account.
Before you post anything think-will someone have a problem with this post? It’s also critical to know what, if any, social media rules your employer (school district/college/university) may have that you must follow.
Tip 2: The internet is forever-beef up your privacy settings. Privacy settings don’t guarantee privacy, but using maximum settings may allow for your posts to remain as private as the world wide web will allow. On your personal account, use the maximum privacy settings that block your posts from students, parents and the school community. Keep in mind that someone still could print, copy or take a screenshot of your post, which is why what you post is so critical.
Tip 3: If it’s not appropriate for school-it’s not appropriate for social media. Remember, if a comment or photo is inappropriate in the school or classroom, it’s inappropriate on social media and could cause problems for you in your work environment, even if the post had nothing to do with work or school.
Savvy Educators Do These Things:
Monitor their online presence
Photos from your college spring break or last week’s party may embarrass you today, and cause some to question your ability to do your job. If someone tagged you in a photo you don’t want online, ask that person to remove the tag and the photo. Then, change your settings to allow you to review all photos with a tag before they get posted. This gives you control over who sees posts and photos you didn’t share.
Crank privacy settings high
Never friend, follow or add students, parents and professional contacts on your personal accounts. Consider making a rule that students can’t ask to follow, friend or add you.
Never vent their frustrations online
Avoid airing gripes about your job, colleagues or students. Never share protected, identifiable information like student grades, health conditions or full names.
The internet is FOREVER. You are a public employee paid with tax dollars, what you follow, like or comment on, even on your own device, can become public business.