Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teachers Beware: Facebook Usage is Dangerous

Or so says Justin Bathon at the Edjurist, on multiple occasions.

Actually, Justin has many valid points. I've had several discussions with administrators this year alone who have mentioned younger teachers are sometimes unaware of the dangers of Facebook, namely that it is open, easily traceable, and permanent. When teachers make the mistake of getting caught up in the forum, whether it be an avenue to vent, a place to post candid pictures, or a forum to show yourself as a fun-loving person, the line can be crossed very easily.

Perhaps the most famous case involves a teacher from Charlotte, NC, who on her Facebook page:
  • Listed her hobbies as "drinking"
  • Said her job was “teaching chitlins in the ghetto of Charlotte”
  • Said she was "teaching in the most ghetto school" in town.
I suppose if you want to start a checklist of what not to do on your Facebook page, that would be a good start.

Prospective teachers take note. It was our policy when I was a principal to not only Google a person, but to fully examine their Facebook page, and I currently recommend that to administrators that I visit with. In recent days, one reported back to me that, upon visiting a prospective teacher's page during the summer, that teacher was immediately dropped from consideration (no comment as to why, which has unfortunately let my imagination run wild). And certainly, just because you are already hired does not mean that inappropriate actions via Facebook are okay. They are not only very strong grounds for dismissal, they are also easy data to gather, as opposed to non-digital evidence.

I'm not quite as strident as Justin on this; I do believe that educators should use the tool personally to become familiar with it, not only because it can help them understand social tools to possibly use in the classroom, but also because it offers many positives to a person's life. It helps them become connected and collaborative with others that they normally would not have. But what is a non-negotiable is that teachers need to have an understanding of digital citizenship, at the very least because they are expected to help their students have an understanding of digital citizenship.

The NEA is similar to my thinking. They have posted both on the benefits of social networking in the classroom (despite the myths) as well as some of the professional pitfalls. Those two articles are great resources to share with your teachers.

And, if you would like some more, below is a brief presentation on the dangers of Facebook.

And perhaps my all time favorite, someone actually getting fired via Facebook. Add this one of what not to do to the above list.


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