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NJSubteacher NJSubteacher is offline
 
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NJSubteacher
 
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Social Media
Old 12-28-2017, 01:01 AM
 
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Last year I opened up a twitter page using my real name and thought nothing of it....I didn't get many followers so forgot about it for a while. Earlier this school year, I happened to sign in and noticed to my surprise over 30 students found me and started following me. Instead of just removing them, I got a little creative and began posting brain teasers ,word problems they can solve. Just fun school related stuff. I also posted simple things like "have a great holiday break".

Well, I recently got an unexpected email from the Superintendant kindly asking me to be very careful with my social media account and that it is not recommended that I allow students to follow me on social media. He was very polite and professional in the email, and even admitted he saw nothing inappropriate in my account, but felt obligated to tell me that some concern over it has reached his desk.

I keep wondering why in the world would this be a big deal and who has it out for me that tried to get me in trouble over a Non issue? There are no solid rules against it in the district I work in eirher. Anyway, in order to prevent further problems, I went ahead and deleted the account completely. But I almost feel like a sucker for complying because I literally did or said nothing wrong or inappropriate in any of my tweets.

But, I guess I did the right thing just to make whoever was upset by this, a happy camper. If I was a tenured teacher, I would probably have fought it because I saw nothing wrong with it.


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MaineSub MaineSub is offline
 
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MaineSub
 
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A tough subject...
Old 12-28-2017, 10:02 AM
 
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I've seen enough social media issues to consider this a difficult and somewhat complex subject. Most of the districts in our area have a policy that prevents staff from having social media friendships with students, but it's a policy that gets revisited frequently, partly because policy (or for that matter law) rarely keeps pace with technology.

I find that policy something of a relief... because it gave me an excuse not to accept friendships from students. If a student sent me a friend request, I would reply briefly explaining the policy and that was that. In my opinion, the risks simply are not worth it. I can only imagine one high school girl describing to her friends her "relationship" with Mr. B on Facebook... and how "we were discussing..." Yes, I think I could handle myself appropriately... but kids (and adults, for that matter) can be quick to manipulate what is said and done. I may be old school, but I think boundaries are important.

As a side note, boundaries seem to disappear on social media. I saw a post by a substitute teacher with a photo of the mittens she proudly knitted while subbing. Frankly, I was tempted to report that one myself. A lot of people are posting what I would consider unfiltered personal information, political positions, etc. So it makes sense to me that an administrator would urge caution in that venue. It may not seem like a big deal, but it wouldn't take much for it to become one.

Suppose, for example, a kid who's below the minimum age for a Facebook account manages to create one and then reaches out to me... and then his parents find out about the account and are really upset. The odds are pretty good I'll get dragged into that mess--shouldn't I have known and reported it?

One administrator I know suggested two identities: a personal one and a professional one. I'm ambivalent, but that makes some sense to me. I created a Mr. B Facebook Page rather than a different persona and it's quite separate from my "personal" identity. The kids are welcome to "like" and follow Mr. B's page, comment on posts, etc. They can certainly find my "personal" Facebook information, but I will not accept friendship requests and I'm very careful about what I post there as well. I will share info about school events, etc. on Mr. B's page but nothing even remotely personal.

Most teachers I know have a very minimal social media presence and if asked will admit "it just isn't worth it." Our business is, unfortunately, a risky one. I would agree based on your post there was "nothing wrong" with what you were doing... but that doesn't mean someone else--a student, a parent, etc. won't find something "wrong" with it. There is actually a legal battle in a district I am familiar with... one teacher told another she would pray for her during a difficult time. She has now been accused of promoting her religion at school. The accusers are claiming, among other things, that the district had an obligation to prevent that. The lawyers are having a field day. How'd you like to be that principal? I'm thinking that I may need to be careful about saying "Bless you" when one of the kids sneezes.
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Sublime Sublime is offline
 
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Old 12-28-2017, 11:51 PM
 
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It is a sensitive subject because of the dangers of social media. I don't think subs and students should be "friends" or follow each other on Twitter. It's also possible a parent could have reported you. I live in the land of political correctness but rarely agree with it. However, I don't think students and subs/teachers should be involved on social media. Once you get to the last couple years of high school, maybe ok for teachers but not subs.
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NJSubteacher NJSubteacher is offline
 
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Old 12-29-2017, 05:38 AM
 
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Thank you very much for your reply Main Sub. I enjoyed reading your input on the subject. It also seems you are torn on the subject because on one hand, even the most simple posts can get you in trouble. However, on the other hand having a professional account (which is the type of account I had) really should be a positive way to communicate school related fun material with students who choose to follow you.

Also, the main difference between facebook and twitter is that twitter is less personal and you are not exactly becoming friends with anyone on twitter, you are just open for folks to "follow you" if they want.

Unfortunately, we live in an over sensitive "political correct" society where if you say "God Bless you" to a student who sneezes, they might fire you as a sub for promoting religion. I am sorry, but one thing that needs to change is squashing the PC garbage and being compassionate and caring human beings again. But, now that I contemplate this, it is probably a good idea not to have any social media that not only students, but even your adult co-workers can have access to, just to be safe.
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Subinnc Subinnc is offline
 
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:01 AM
 
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I would not have deleted it. I do not get paid enough as a substitute teacher to let someone tell me how to conduct myself in my personal life. Social media falls under the category of "my personal life."

At this point my Instagram is almost all kids. I post absolutely nothing that could even remotely be construed as inappropriate...it's mostly pictures of my daughters...who are also "friends" with everyone who follows me. It's a small town. Along the same lines, I'm friends with a lot of people I work with on Facebook, including several administrators (who are often friends with students and parents). Because of this, my Facebook page is also completely sanitized, I don't post anything expressing political or religious beliefs, and absolutely nothing controversial. Again, mostly just pics of the kids.

Here's one thing I saw recently that I found highly inappropriate... A teacher and student got into an argument about the NFL/kneeling controversy on yet another student's fb page. This middle aged, well off, white woman was lecturing a black high school student on how what he believed was incorrect. Ugh. It was a train wreck, and exactly how things get ruined for the rest of us.

Point is, you didn't do anything wrong. I would have left the page up.


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NJSubteacher NJSubteacher is offline
 
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:53 AM
 
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Ironically, all of the middle school and high school principals in my district actually have Twitter pages that everyone, including students are open to follow. However, these same admins try and tell other teachers and subs they shouldn't allow students to follow them. Tbe very definition of being a hypocrite.

Liability issues do not make sense because even most school districts as a whole, have twitter and facebook pages that ANY student can easily follow. So does that mean if a student who happens to befriend the school district's facebook page is involved in an online bullying incident, the School district is liable?? Either way, I think Congress needs to come up with new laws that would inhibit liability issues when it comes to certain social media issues. Even as adults, there really isn't a concrete set of laws that protect us when it comes to social media useage. But, I just wanted to point out the hypocracy of school admins on this subject. Very sad. I am keeping my eyes open for better paying career opportunitities with less PC and liability overhead.
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Haley23 Haley23 is offline
 
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:55 PM
 
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At my first school my Principal made a "professional" FB account and accepted friend requests from students. It was a small school and she felt this was a way for her to keep an eye on the students/have a better idea of what was going on in their lives. Of course she never posted anything inappropriate and on the surface it seems like a decent idea.

The district asked her to take it down due to liability issues. They said that if some of the students she was "friends" with were participating in bullying behavior, she could be held responsible even though this was off school property because she "witnessed it." Or if a student posted something about wanting to harm themselves or potentially carrying out some sort of violence at school, and she didn't intervene, she could be held liable. Apparently there was a legal precedent for this...this was many years ago so I don't remember the specifics, but I remember that's why she was asked to take it down.
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subasaurus subasaurus is offline
 
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The only social media I use my real name
Old 12-30-2017, 05:25 AM
 
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Is LinkedIn.

Can't tell you how many times I've had students ask if I'm on Instagram or Facebook.

No way would I give out social media details. Not as a sub especially. I certainly don't want students or parents tracking me down and using photos or comments against me.

In this day in age it's easy to get in trouble if you use social media. Anything posted online that could be considered inappropriate or offensive will get you booted. Even if your Twitter is rated G you still have students following you, which could lead to trouble if you mistakenly post something that could be perceived as off-color. Or if students post inappropriate comments it could lead to major issues.

A while back a male high school student who I worked with on a regular basis asked for my email (I'm a male too) before I left the school and moved on to working full-time at a different school. Needless to say, a complaint was filed against me, and I was banned from that school for giving it out. I was pretty insulted by their actions of course, but they have the power to decide whether it's wrong or right. Not us.

(Good news is it wasn't much of a loss. The staff at the school weren't the friendliest bunch of people.)

Learned my lesson real fast: Don't give out ANY personal info to students as a sub. Ever. No matter how much they insist it's ok.

Like Admiral Ackbar says in Star Wars - IT'S A TRAP!

My point? Be careful. Just because you are doing nothing wrong doesn't mean other people won't assume the worst and attack you. We subs have a lot less freedom and trust from others in the classroom, sadly. Even if we are teaching for a long-term assignment we need to keep our guards up.

TNO = trust no one

Last edited by subasaurus; 12-30-2017 at 05:52 AM..
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MaineSub MaineSub is offline
 
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Some good points...
Old 01-01-2018, 10:42 AM
 
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I don't disagree with those who think liability issues are out of control, even beyond the point of rational thought. I've heard some amazing "suggestions" and even some legal advice that makes my head spin. For example, I tripped over a curb once and suggested to management it be painted bright yellow. Legal counsel recommended against it! The legal logic was painting it yellow would be an admission there was a hazard... failure to keep to painted bright yellow would then become neglect. (Personally, I would have argued that ignoring the fact I reported it would be neglect, but I'm not an attorney.)

I would add to Subsaurus's TNO ("Trust no one") YCBTC ("You can't be too careful"). One of my female students (elementary) asked if she could eat lunch in the classroom with me... I told her she would have to clear it with the lunch duty teacher. He okayed it but suggested she bring a friend so I wouldn't be alone with her in the room. Sadly, that makes sense.

Another aspect of this (particularly in small towns) is social media relationships with parents and grandparents... Recently I had a parent contact me (on Facebook) during a recent storm... would I be able to pick up her children and take them to school? Oh, by the way... one of the kids has a friend staying over, she'll need a ride too... fortunately, the circumstance was such that I wasn't working that day, but I would have had to say "no" otherwise--even though I know this family well.

The good news is most of the kids and parents do get this and understand the need for it. I'm pretty well-known as a rule/policy follower and rarely get asked to "cheat." I don't always like it but I find life is simpler when you don't "bend" the rules or policies.

All that said, I know one high school Spanish teacher who allows her students to text her as long as it's done in correct Spanish. That's the other side of the coin... I wouldn't mind living long enough to see our society figure out how to deal with some of these social (and not just media) issues and make sensible use of technology.
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