On Friday, I’ll be speaking to a group of local high school and middle school teachers about some best practices on the use of technology in the workplace.
Among the central messages of the presentation? No guideline can be a substitute for using good judgment and common sense.
With teachers, that message is more important than ever. Increasingly, the lines between private and professional lives are getting blurred; for teachers, though, it is of critical importance to maintain that boundary. One-on-one chats with students have long been seen as an opportunity for trouble and social media and instant messaging create opportunities for that to happen.
Indeed, even the "smart" teachers can get ensnared into the social media trap. Witness the 2010 Teacher of the Year from a Texas elementary school who posted pictures of her students on a publicly-accessible blog.
That’s not to say that social media should be off limits for all teachers. Far from it. There are some who are using it quite effectively in the classroom. The New York Times did an article last week that highlighted a few and offered lesson plans on their website.
But it does mean that teachers need to think about their actions online. Increasing privacy settings on Facebook and maintaining a professional image — even outside of work — are two areas that teachers can focus on and accomplish.