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Address it now-- Facebook
posted by: Jill | October 13, 2010, 01:57 PM   

I am a teacher. I love Facebook. And I'm not alone. The combination has prompted the writing of many articles which advise teachers about how they should handle Facebook in their professional life. In fact, my colleague posted an article about this issue in July. However, few articles have spoken to administrators and solid school policy.

Since Facebook isn't going away anytime soon, schools need more than just "good ideas" for handling this growing network. From what I have seen, the website is usually blocked at school, but there must still be professional guidelines outside of school time. Administrators, if not yet addressed at your school, add a social media section to your teachers' handbook. A sound policy has the power to help administrators and teachers avoid sticky situations online.

Take a few minutes and view these strategies for safe-guarding your teachers and students, written by Nora Carr and found in eSchool News. The complete article can be found at the link provided below.

How to avoid committing social media gaffes
11 strategies for keeping your staff out of hot water in today's new media world
  • Develop guidelines for use and share with your staff. Update your acceptable-use policy as well as personnel policies to reflect the district's position on appropriate use of social networking sites. For ideas, check out the Social Media Guidelines for Schools wiki. Many of the ideas presented here are adapted from this resource, which is meant to be shared and expanded as new information becomes available.
  • Create an official site for your school or district. To protect others' privacy, set it up as a fan page so people can post comments or become a fan without giving you access to their personal pages. Commit staff time or resources to daily updates. Keep the tone conversational, but represent your organization and your position respectfully and responsibly. According to Pew Research, "44 percent of online adults have searched for information about someone whose services or advice they seek in a professional capacity."
  • Keep your personal business private. Don't list your place of work, job title, or work eMail address on sites meant to be strictly personal. Use the privacy settings to restrict access to family and friends. Even so, recognize that privacy really doesn't exist on the web. Don't post any comments, pictures, blogs, presentations, or words that you don't want circulating more broadly.
  • Recognize that as public employees, you always represent your school or district. The power of social networking is that these sites instantly connect you with colleagues and anyone associated with the institutions you list, whether as an alumnus or as an employee. If you don't want to see it on the front page of the daily newspaper, don't post it.
  • Avoid participating in the cutesy, sometimes raunchy online surveys and other gimmicks that social media sites use to generate traffic. Again, employees have lost their jobs and suffered a great deal of embarrassment as a result of inappropriate and compromising photos or comments posted online that they mistakenly thought were private, and yet were easily forwarded, copied, or photographed by individuals to whom they'd granted access.
  • Don't connect personally with students, ever. There's never an appropriate or legitimate reason to develop online relationships with students. Employee content should project a professional image and should not have a negative impact on the employee's ability to maintain the respect of students, parents, and peers.
  • Recognize that the parents of your students are your partners in the educational process, not your "friends." It is simply too easy to cross lines that should not be crossed.
  • Use group sites or pages to connect with students and parents for educational purposes, such as homework help or assignments. Group pages should not give access to teachers' personal and private information and accounts. Don't post student photos on group pages without parental permission, and don't post student photos on personal pages.
  • Hold employees personally responsible for all content they post online. Digital content lives in perpetuity online. What seems funny and innocent at 22 might not seem so funny just a few years later. Classroom guidelines, along with state and federal laws regarding educational privacy, still apply in online settings.
  • Avoid anonymous or misleading postings and comments. Don't misrepresent your identity and post a comment on someone else's site or blog without identifying yourself as a public school employee. If you're not willing to own your comments, don't post them. Just because social media sites offer anonymity doesn't mean you should use it.
  • Teach employees how to use social media and networking sites wisely and well. Policies and procedures are important, but they only represent a first step. Provide training, and include information about how to use these sites in a professional manner in school and district newsletters and other communications.
Award-winning eSchool News columnist Nora Carr is the chief of staff for North Carolina's Guilford County Schools.

Comments (5)Add Comment
written by Latest Tech News , January 16, 2011

Great info!
I found your web page on google and it seems to have what I've been looking for. Here's another source that worth a look about this also. Thanks for sharing!

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written by Steve, November 16, 2010

Oops, my link below is incorrectly typed. It should be
written by Steve, November 16, 2010

Social media services like Facebook are becoming more integrated into our lives. It can feel almost natural to use such services, but we have to change our thinking. I'll think of ways to improve my site http://www.sightwordsprintables to educate teachers about this new issue.
Is Facebook really "the Devil's work"?
written by Alan Newland, London UK, October 14, 2010

I agree teachers should be very cautious about social media and maintain appropriate professional boundaries but we need to address the fact that they will challenged by all kinds of situations that blur the boundaries - online and in the real world - particularly if you live in a small community where your students might be the sons and daughters of your neighbours and friends. See our video and our blogs: and follow us on twitter @talkgtc

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