Teaching & Social Networking – Is It Do-able?
Posted by alburnet
This was a post I originally shared with my students on my teacher blog. It is something that I’m particularly interested in, so I wanted to save it on my personal blog as well as a teacher reflection.
Right now, in order to check my (or the school’s or county’s) Facebook page, I have to put it in a special username and password. Why? Because Facebook, and other sites geared toward social networking – like LiveJournal or Tumblr – are blocked. These sites are deemed too out of control, too unprofessional, too irrelevant, and too controversial to be granted general access past our district’s firewall.
Certainly, teacher/student Facebook relationships have raised a veritable hailstorm of controversy. (When Teachers Talk Out of School – NYTimes.com). Pshaw, even things that teacher’s post on Facebook to their own friends – about school or about their personal lives – have become questionable.
- April 2008: “When Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web” reads the headline. The Washington Post reports that one teacher has been fired after being seen on YouTube using his bottom to paint canvasses. Another teacher, an EC teacher, faced disciplinary action after posting a Facebook “bumper sticker” that said “you’re a retard, but i love you.”
- November 2008: About five teachers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools face discipline for their Facebook comments – posts involving “poor judgement and bad taste”.
- Helms, Ann Doss. “Charlotte teachers face action because of Facebook postings” 12 Nov. 2008. The Charlotte Observer.
- August 2009: Ashley Barrow, 24, was pressured to resign from her job after a parent complained about Facebook pictures she’d posted showing her holding wine and beer whilst on vacation.
- “Former Teacher Sues for Being Fired for Facebook Pics” 11 Nov. 2009. WSBTV.com
- “Did the Internet Kill Privacy?” – 6 Feb. 2011. CBS News.
- Sager, Jeanne “Teacher Fired for Drinking on Facebook Isn’t the Real Problem” 8 Feb. 2011. The Stir
- Sarrio, Jaime. “Barrow teacher fired over Facebook still not back in classroom” 9 Nov. 2010. ajc.com
- “Teacher sacked for posting picture of herself holding glass of wine and mug of beer on Facebook” 7 Feb. 2011. Mail Online.
- January 2010: East Stroudsburg University Professor Gloria Gadsden asks if anyone knows where she can find a “very discreet hitman” after having a really hard day at work. She is suspended indefinitely.
- March 2010: Elizabeth Collins is dismissed after blogging about student presentations. The next year, she joins forces with another teacher on the brink of losing her job because of blog postings.
- Lu, Adrienne. “How far can schools go in regulating teachers’ social-media use?” 14 Mar 2011. Philly.com
- August 2010: A high school teacher, from Cohasset, Massachusetts, not realizing that her Facebook was “public” and not “private”, expressed that she was not looking forward to another year working in her school district. She said that the residents were “arrogant” and “snobby”. She also calls her kids “germ bags”. She is fired for her unprofessional comments.
- “Facebook Firing: Teacher Loses Job After Commenting About Students, Parents on Facebook” 19 Aug. 2010. ABC News
- October 2010: Fox News reports that at least three teachers are fired for having inappropriate relationships with students. The teachers were accused of sending messages, both private and public, as flirtations with students. Facebook is used as evidence of such relationships. The article warns that Facebook socializing should be avoided because it can cross into “areas that are potentially dangerous”
- March 2011: Christine Rubino comes under fire for comments she made on Facebook to some of her friends. After a particularly frustrating day, a teacher vents by posting an (admittedly) tasteless joke about allowing her class of bad kids to drown.
- “Teacher’s tasteless Facebook joke may get her fired” – 13 Mar 2011. NYPost.com
- May 2011: A substitute teacher and high school tennis coach was fired for friending students and, allegedly, having non-school related conversations with them. It should be noted that according to the district’s ethics policy “friending” students is considered crossing an inappropriate boundary.
- August 2011: In an attempt to avoid scandal, Missouri bans teachers from being friends with students on Facebook. Missouri is working on it’s own version which would go into effect in August 2012. (A school district in Florida did the same thing in August 2010 – no Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or other personal sites should be shared with students.)
The list goes on and on.
Now another teacher, Viki Knox, is coming under fire for “anti-gay” comments that she made on Facebook, objecting to a school display for National LGBT History Month. The high school display honored gay and lesbian authors and artists who have contributed to great works of art, music, and literature. Knox, made the comment that “homosexuality is a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation.” She also said that she was “pitching a fit” in response to the display.
You can read about it here…and here…and here…:
- “Board Probes Teacher’s Anti-Gay Facebook Posts” 19 Oct. 2011. NBC Philadelphia.
- “Investigation of teacher who made anti-gay FAcebook comments yields lessons for both sides” 21 Oct. 2011. NJ.com
- Schapiro, Jeff. “NJ Teacher’s Facebook Comments Spark Gay Rights Protest” 17 Oct. 2011. Christian News.
This has, of course, raised tons of debate – both supporting the teacher’s right to free speech and against the teacher, saying that she couldn’t possibly perform her job while holding and voicing such opinions. But, this raises several questions.
- Can Facebook and other social networks have a positive place in school?
- Should they be banned outright?
- Should teachers be held accountable for what they do outside of school?
- Do teachers have a right to free speech?
What do you think?
(Respond below by clicking on the comment button.)
About alburnetNew mom, new natural, and..for the last year...still a new teacher!
Posted on October 21, 2011, in Current Events Friday!, Teaching and tagged class discussion, facebook, lesson plans, social networking, students, teaching, twitter. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.