Teachers and social networks

Teachers are social creatures, right? Well, here‘s a disturbing story from just down the road in Apex, North Carolina. A teacher has been suspended after a parent complained to the school board about a comment she posted on her Facebook page.

I don’t think we know all the facts about the situation at the school, but this incident does highlight the importance of maintaining professional distance online. My policy is not to accept “friend” invitations from any current or former students, and if I taught in the school system, I would extend that to parents. I’m sure that can be hard if the parents are also your friends in the community, but personally, I need to draw a line between my”public” persona as a teacher/faculty member and my private opinions.

For the teacher to sound off to her friends about a situation that sounds very difficult is one thing; to do so in virtual earshot of her kids’ parents is another entirely. And information can spread on Facebook, especially in a smallish town like Apex.

Time to take the pruning shears to the friends list?

Author: Nigel Caplan

Nigel Caplan, Ph.D., is an associate professor of ESL and materials developer in Delaware, in the United States.

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