Teachers and social media: Someone has to be the adult

18 Dec

Right Said Fred, the English trio had a hit with the danceable little ditty, I’m Too Sexy

I’m too sexy for my love too sexy for my love
Love’s going to leave me
I’m too sexy for my shirt too sexy for my shirt
So sexy it hurts
And I’m too sexy for Milan too sexy for Milan
New York and Japan
And I’m too sexy for your party
Too sexy for your party
No way I’m disco dancing

Too sexy might be OK for a dance club, but it shouldn’t describe the relationship between a teacher and their students. Teachers must be professional and authoritative in the classroom.

Allie Townsend is reports at Time about a Massachusetts school district’s rule which attempts to keep teachers from acting like morons. In Hey Teach Get Off the Facebook: District Bans Teacher-Student Friendships Townsend reports:

School officials in Norton, Mass., having issued a ruling against online connections between teachers and current or former students. Worried about potential inappropriate Internet communications between teacher and pupil, the board made a plea to teachers to avoid social media relationships with students – or else.

As inappropriate teacher-student Facebook scandals have been made public in recent weeks (three in New York public schools alone) school boards are attempting to eliminate the possibility of a problem by issuing rules to faculty and staff forbidding social media connections with students, mainly on sites Facebook or MySpace. “We want to head it off at the pass,” one school board member told the Boston Globe. “Teachers know this already, but we wanted to have something official on the books.”

Children are not mature and adults can not expect the same level of maturity that most adults are presumed to have. Immature people, like kids, will take even harmless interactions and embellish and broadcast them to the world at large. The safest course of action for for teachers who want to be viewed as teacher professionals is to use common sense when using all social media and never put yourself in a situation with a student which can be viewed as compromising.

Jennifer Preston is reporting in the New York Times article, Rules to Stop Pupil and Teacher From Getting Too Social Online that school districts all over the country are increasingly worried about the interaction between teachers and social media.

Faced with scandals and complaints involving teachers who misuse social media, school districts across the country are imposing strict new guidelines that ban private conversations between teachers and their students on cellphones and online platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The policies come as educators deal with a wide range of new problems. Some teachers have set poor examples by posting lurid comments or photographs involving sex or alcohol on social media sites. Some have had inappropriate contact with students that blur the teacher-student boundary. In extreme cases, teachers and coaches have been jailed on sexual abuse and assault charges after having relationships with students that, law enforcement officials say, began with electronic communication.

But the stricter guidelines are meeting resistance from some teachers because of the increasing importance of technology as a teaching tool and of using social media to engage with students. In Missouri, the state teachers union, citing free speech, persuaded a judge that a new law imposing a statewide ban on electronic communication between teachers and students was unconstitutional. Lawmakers revamped the bill this fall, dropping the ban but directing school boards to develop their own social media policies by March 1.

School administrators acknowledge that the vast majority of teachers use social media appropriately. But they also say they are increasingly finding compelling reasons to limit teacher-student contact. School boards in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia have updated or are revising their social media policies this fall….

My concern is that it makes it very easy for teachers to form intimate and boundary-crossing relationships with students,” said Charol Shakeshaft, chairwoman of the Department of Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, who has studied sexual misconduct by teachers for 15 years. “I am all for using this technology. Some school districts have tried to ban it entirely. I am against that. But I think there’s a middle ground that would allow teachers to take advantage of the electronic technology and keep kids safe.”

Lewis Holloway, the superintendent of schools in Statesboro, Ga., imposed a new policy this fall prohibiting private electronic communications after learning that Facebook and text messages had helped fuel a relationship between an eighth grade English teacher and her 14-year-old male pupil. The teacher was arrested this summer on charges of aggravated child molestation and statutory rape, and remains in jail awaiting trial.

It can start out innocent and get more and more in depth quickly,” said Mr. Holloway, a school administrator for 38 years. “Our students are vulnerable through new means, and we’ve got to find new ways to protect them.”

Mr. Holloway said he learned of other sexual misconduct cases when consulting with school administrators around the nation about social media policies. While there is no national public database of sexual misconduct by teachers, dozens of cases have made local headlines around the country this year.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/business/media/rules-to-limit-how-teachers-and-students-interact-online.html?hpw

Teachers and others in responsible positions who deal with children must exercise common sense and not put themselves in situations which at the minimum will be awkward and which will lead to activity which is inappropriate.

Boundaries people. Boundaries.

If you are too stupid to use caution or you can’t exercise caution, society will begin to impose sanctions against those engaged in inappropriate activity with children. Engaging in inappropriate activity with children does not make you too sexy, it makes you too stupid!

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

3 Responses to “Teachers and social media: Someone has to be the adult”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Managing school Facebook relationships can be challenging « drwilda - September 23, 2012

    […] in inappropriate activity with children does not make you too sexy, it makes you too stupid! https://drwilda.com/2011/12/18/teachers-and-social-media-some-has-to-be-the-adult/ For a really good analysis of the pros and cons of Facebook teacher and student Facebook […]

  2. Stupid is as stupid does: The teacher and the 12-year-old « drwilda - September 29, 2012

    […] Children are not mature and adults can not expect the same level of maturity that most adults are presumed to have. Immature people, like kids, will take even harmless interactions and embellish and broadcast them to the world at large. The safest course of action for for teachers who want to be viewed as teacher professionals is to use common sense when using all social media and never put yourself in a situation with a student which can be viewed as compromising. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/18/teachers-and-social-media-some-has-to-be-the-adult/ […]

  3. Common Sense Media report: Kids migrating away from Facebook | drwilda - September 28, 2013

    […] https://drwilda.com/2011/12/18/teachers-and-social-media-some-has-to-be-the-adult/ […]

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