Stupid is as stupid does: The teacher and the 12-year-old

29 Sep

In Teachers and social media: Someone has to be the adult, moi said:

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.

Emma Brown writes about the latest bout of teacher stupidity in the Washington Post article, D.C. teacher admits sending lewd message to 12-year-old student:

A District elementary school teacher admitted Friday to sending a lewd Facebook message to a 12-year-old student, an act that D.C. Public Schools officials called “abhorrent, inexcusable behavior.”

Jurelle V. Turner, 46, pleaded guilty in D.C. Superior Court to “certain obscene activities and conduct,” a misdemeanor. School system officials said they have begun efforts to fire him.

Teachers are expected to act as professionals and behave accordingly,” spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz wrote in an e-mail. “What’s been alleged is illegal and a gross abuse of power. It is abhorrent, inexcusable behavior.”

Moi wrote in Managing school Facebook relationships can be challenging:

Janet R. Decker posts at Education Nation the article, ‘Like’ It or Not, Facebook Can Get Teachers Fired:

School employees have constitutional rights that must be protected, but it is also important to protect students and safeguard the image of teachers as role models. Yet, teachers and administrators may be unsure of their legal responsibilities surrounding social networking. Part of the difficulty is that technology advances at a quicker pace than legal precedent. Because of this reality, schools are encouraged to implement policies and consider the following recommendations regarding employees’ online behavior.

1. EDUCATE! It’s not enough to have policies, schools should also have professional development about these issues. By doing so, staff are notified about the expectations and have a chance to digest and ask questions about the policies.

2. Be empathetic in policies and actions. Administrators may wish that a school’s computers only be used for educational purposes, but this is an unrealistic expectation.

3. Create separate student and staff policies, because the laws pertaining to these two groups differ greatly.

4. Involve staff in policy creation. This process will help employees comprehend the policies and will likely foster staff buy-in.

5. Be clear and specific. Policies should include rationales, legal support, and commentary with examples.

6. Ensure your policies conform to state and federal law.

7. Include consequences for violations in your policies and implement the consequences.

8. Provide an avenue for appeal and attend to employees’ due process rights.

9. Implement policies in an effective and non-discriminatory manner.

10. Evaluate and amend policies as the law evolves. Much of the law related to technology is in flux. What is legal today may not be tomorrow.

In sum, it is important that school employees understand that they are expected to be role models both inside and outside of the school – even while on Facebook.

Because information posted on social media can go viral, it is important to use common sense in dealing with both parents and students.

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 ©


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