How should teachers manage their online profile?
The basis of this blog stems from an old document gathering digital dust on my hard-drive. The reason for sharing it here, stems from a line-management discussion this week, about online behaviour and eSafety; having a policy in your school. In essence, it was agreed that it is all fine and dandy having a policy, but not if a) staff and students were unaware of it and b) did not see and live the policy in their day-to-day practice.
Even though the original document is several years old, it’s striking how applicable it still is today. After-all, there are so many opportunities for us to use social media in and out of the classroom, yet it is difficult for all of us to maintain 100% protection.
High standard of behaviour and attitude:
Every school should consider eSafety seriously for safeguarding reasons and have an eSafety policy for staff who work within those schools. This will always be a bone of contention for some, but I’ve always defended the Teachers’ Standards which states clear as day:
A teacher is expected to *demonstrate consistently high standards of personal and professional conduct. For me, this extends to social media use as well as general behaviour in public.
The following statements define the behaviour and attitudes which set the required standard for conduct throughout a teacher’s career:
- teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school, by:
- treating pupils with dignity, building relationships rooted in mutual respect, and at all times observing proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position
- having regard for the need to safeguard pupils’ well-being, in accordance with statutory provisions
- showing tolerance of and respect for the rights of others
- not undermining fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
- ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit pupils’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law. (Teachers’ Standards 2012)
“I’ve found your password. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
10 Tips for Managing Social Media:
Whether it’s blogs, Twitter, Facebook or other social media platforms, teachers should:
- Keep private profiles protected.
- Keep public profiles professional.
- Public or private? ‘Pause before you post’ and ask: ‘How would I feel about this if I was a parent of a student at my school?’
- Model good social-media behaviour to your students.
- Be clear about you and your purpose – if you want to share ideas, resources, interests with other teachers, use keywords in your profile: ‘I’m a SENCO at a primary school… etc.’
- Choose and share public and private photos carefully. I’m not saying don’t share, but choose wisely.
- Protect passwords and security (Do NOT allow students to use teacher PCs or personal devices).
- Keep your ‘followers’, friends’ and ‘connections’ under review. Visit friendships regularly. Your profile may not have changed, but someone else’s profile may have the last time you checked!
- Maintain ‘private’ profiles or set them to allow only ‘invited’ or those ‘approved’ to your network. I do this over on Instagram, offering a closer look at the ins-and-outs of life as Teacher Toolkit. I approve all followers on a private account.
- Ask friends and family not to ‘tag’ you in ways that may compromise your professional persona. It’s happened to me before, and I’ve seen it happen to colleagues attending interviews. Be mindful …
Using social media personally – and professionally – is exciting for old cronies like me; I didn’t have a mobile phone until I was 25 years old. For newer teachers in the profession, it’s likely you were using a mobile phone by the age of 10 and find social media part of your being. Either way, it’s a way of life for all of us, but as teachers we should still model the behaviours we expect to see in our classrooms and playgrounds, even when we are sitting behind a device in the warm comforts of our home.
Only last night before posting this blog, I received this response to a resource I’ve been sharing for months. Social media is a powerful tool; it takes years to build up a professional reputation, but seconds to destroy it.
*I highly suspect my greatest hits will be called before the jury.