Social media is everywhere. There is no way around it. And it can be tough to navigate when you are involved in education. You may believe what you post on social media is completely harmless but in this day and age, the social media warriors can take offense from just about anything. You might mean something as a joke or totally innocent, but it can be twisted so badly that before you know it, it has a life of its own and you are left wondering how you got yourself in this predicament. Below are a few helpful tips for using social media as a teacher that will keep you free from any drama.
Choose What Social Media You Use Carefully
There are safer social media sites that you can use as an educator than Facebook. Facebook can tend to bring out the worst in some people that have nothing better to do with their time than stir up controversy. Because of this, you may be better off with LinkedIn, Pinterest, or something similar. These sites are more for professionals and used by professionals than Facebook or Twitter.
Wait to Add Parents and Former Students as Friends
There are those in education that swear by the rule of not adding past students as friends on social media until they have at least graduated from high school. This is a great rule to follow. The same concern should be considered when adding parents as well. Just because you have had a good parent-teacher conference a couple times with a mother or father of one of your students does not mean you should add them as a friend on social media just yet. Wait until their child is at least out of your class permanently before responding to a friend request. Parent-teacher relationships can sour quickly if there is an incident in your class. It is best to take the precautions necessary rather than acquiring a new frenemy.
Try Not to Post Anything that Is Controversial
We all have our own opinions but that does not mean we have to share them constantly with friends and strangers. People take offense to just about anything in social media. And you may believe that you are sharing something with only your friends, but just about any social media post can be viewed if someone looks hard enough. In the same respect, don’t “like” anything that can be questioned either. By putting a thumbs up on something, it signals to others that you agree with it. As an educator, it is good to remain silent on controversial issues on social media. There is nothing worse than having a Masters in Education and being called into an administrator’s office to be told by a principal that you are not being smart with your social media.
Restrict the Amount of Photos You Post
Remember that picture from college where you and your friends are out celebrating and everyone is doing a shot? That picture might have been years before you entered into education, but if the wrong person should see that on your social media, they can make your life difficult. Keep in mind that the picture of you on the beach where you are in your swimsuit and the sun is hitting you just right so that you appear to be a model in some swimwear advertisement could be shared by your students or their parents. Only put up pictures on your social media that you would be okay with your students seeing.
Whether you have realized it or not as a teacher, you are a celebrity in the town that you teach in. You may not be world famous and are definitely rich, but people know who you are. This means that as an educator, you have to play it safe on social media at least until you retire. And even then, you would be better off spending more time with your kids and grandkids instead of online. When your life is nearing its end, I don’t believe you will utter the words on your deathbed, “I wish I would have spent more time on social media.”
If you have concerns about how your teaching staff is using social media or other technology, iAchieve has professional development workshops for teaching in the 21st century. A little education goes a long way in avoiding these types of issues.
Written by Ryan Crawley