Monday, April 11, 2011

Should Teachers Use Facebook

A couple of weeks ago we talked about prisoners who were using Facebook to communicate to the outside world. I asked the question if restricting prisoners' use of social media violated their first amendment rights.

So here's a different situation. In the past few weeks, a number of teachers have been fired or disciplined for commenting on their students' behavior online. As a result, many school boards are now coming up with official policies as to what teachers can and cannot say on social networking sites. Read the following article here and tell me what you think. Are you violating a teacher's first amendment right to free speech if you are now telling them what they can and cannot say online? Are there other professions where speech online should be limited? If you were a teacher and had a bad day in class (for example your students were behaving badly) should you be punished for pointing that out online?

21 comments:

aben said...

I think teachers should be able to have a facebook, but I do think they should be aware of what they post. Posting things concerning students is not appropriate and as professionals they should know that. If they have problems with students, I feel they should take care of their frustrations in a more private matter and not put it out for the whole world to see. It is not only disrespects the kid but the family as well.

lisahenry said...

I definitely think that it is inappropriate for a teacher to discuss a student on any kind of social network online. I do not think that it violates their freedom of speech because their first obligation should be to their students and any problems should be addressed to their boss and/or to the parents (also to the students). I realize that teaching is a very difficult profession however, it is also one that has a lot of responsibility to the well-being of the students. It's important to remember that no matter how difficult the students are, they are still children. The teacher is the adult and should act accordingly. I also realize that students sometime have a teacher that they all consider to be the "cool" teacher and, of course they all want to be friends and don't understand that this is inappropriate. However, this also crosses the line. My son has a favorite teacher at his school - the art teacher. He's a really nice man and will allow the parents to friend him on facebook but he does not allow any of the students to friend him. I really appreciate the way that he leads by example and doesn't sway under the pressure. He is never disrespectful even though I'm sure he has bad days just like the rest of us. I believe that due to the fact that these adults are dealing with children that their opinions about particular students should be more guarded and treated very responsibly - if this is a big problem then maybe they should consider a new profession. As far as other professions that should not discuss their jobs online - well, for the most part I think that it is inappropriate to discuss many things. I really think that people should stop and consider that its not only their friends that have access to what they write but many more people including their employers and future employers.

ABilly said...

Teachers are people too, they are entitle to the voicing their opinions just like any other person but they do not need to write about students and should remember that there are several reason for not doing so:

the first is that once it is out there and it is written in anger or frustration, it could be taken the wrong way and there is no way that it can be taken back.

Second, like many jobs, what happens at the worksite needs to remain at the worksite. Some things are meant to be confidential and any teacher should know that you should not talk about a student to anyone other than the personnally involved with the student.

Third, the teacher is a role model for students and should remember that even after school is let out for the day, he or she is still a role model.

There is more reasons but I think I have made my point and if they can not do so they need to find another job because they just are not grown up enough to appreciate their jobs to teach students. Teachers need to remember they are suppose to the adult and students are still considered children who need to be taught.

Teachers really need to be aware of what they write and keep it in mind that they should only write things about themselves first. I am sure that the teachers wouldn't put something out there in the public about their own personal life that they don't want anyone else to know about so why write about a student.

SarahLear said...

While teachers, like anyone else, have the freedom of speech to say whatever they want on social media sites or anywhere else, they are still professionals and should not make inappropriate comments of any nature to their students on social networks. Firstly, it completely contradicts what teachers stand for. They are supposed to be role models for students and guide them in the right directions for leading a successful life, not cutting them down by giving them labels and insulting them. Secondly, things on social media sites can be seen by anyone and they can last forever. It’s really hard to take something back once it’s made so public. If a teacher has an issue with a student and their behavior or performance in class, the matter should be taken up privately with the student and/or their parents.

I do think that school districts should create guidelines for what is appropriate for teachers to say and what isn’t on social media sites because it is a problem. More and more people of all different ages are joining all kinds of social media sites and adjustments need to be made.

Personally, I don’t think I would be friends on Facebook with my teachers. And that is definitely a way to avoid having comments like this posted to you on social networks. I try to be very selective with who I am friends with because future employers frequently use Facebook and other sites when determining whether they should hire you or not. Comments like that can make you look bad.

Plus when I think of why I will have my Facebook account when I’m older and have a career and the reasons I come up with are to keep in touch with my high school and college friends and other people my age. That seems like the main purpose. Teachers shouldn’t be talking to their students on social media sites at all really. Especially if it’s inappropriate.
So I think regulations for various different jobs when concerning what to post on Facebook and what not to is a very good idea.

WilliamHardy said...

This article hit's me just a little close to home. I have an aunt that is a teacher that is going through this facebook expulsion. My fiance is also a teacher with facebook. I believe to censor the teachers is a First amendment violation. Facebook is a social network site If a teacher wants to get online and relieve stress by commenting on how bad her students are so that people can write encouraging things in response should not be censored. In the world we live in a teacher doing this is no different than if ten years ago a teacher called 20 friends after a long day to vent about her students.
I believe that the way it should be handled is the way that my aunt has been told to handle it in Ouachita Parish School District in Louisiana. The teachers are being told that they are not allowed to be friends on facebook with any of the students or parents of students. This way if they want to say something they can without the chance of the students seeing it. to take away what they can say or facebook all together would be wrong I believe there are other ways to settle it like the example I provided.

DSEELEY said...

What happened to the days when students were students and ateachers were teachers. Today we have Facebook, Internet Blogs online chat rooms and school home pages on the internet. Should teachers have facebook pages, sure but they need to remeber who has access to their account. If the parents of students are the teaches friends then the teacher needs to be very discrete on what is said on Facebook. Teachers use to talk to teachers or parents now it seems to be conducted over the internet. It is aamaazing what a person kind find out about someone on Facebook. Teachers so not be able to friend students onto their Facebook account. Is this infringing on their Frist Amendment Rights, They still have to right to have the Facebook account they just need to be careful on what they say and you they say it to. Doctors and Lawyers as well as social workers also need to very careful on what is said on line.

CLiddell said...

Yes, indeed teachers should be allowed to use Face book like everyone else. However,I see it is the way they are using Face book is the problem. Face-book in my area is awful. People around here have so much drama going through Face book. Thank god I am not a part of Face book. I believe the purpose of Face book was for connection with old and new friends and relatives in a positive manner. It just seem like that site is being use differently than it was intended. True, people have rough days, as I do everyday and to get on line to comment on your feelings is OK.
But for a teacher, talking about a student on line, is crazy. A teacher didn't know better than that. Teachers, I remember was just that teachers. They carried themselves in manners that were appropriate and they actually cared about the children. That is a thing of the past. Now, teachers are young and they don't have that traditional respect for themselves and their jobs. The social networks is the biggest thing going. Therefore, if teachers don't know what to say and when to say it, then they need to be restricted from using Face book, if that is what it takes. This day and age people are crazy. So, making dumb comments and socializing with students over Face book can turn into more than expected. With that in mind, I don't think that would be a violation of teachers freedom of speech privilege. Coming up with policies for teachers using Face book might be a means to an ends.

brandy said...

I do not believe it is a violation of teachers right to free speech when using a social network. Teachers are professionals and should act in a professonal manner. I work for a professional company and the company also have policies for social media sites. Teachers must understand that they are role models even after the bell has rung at 2:45.

I do not believe teachers should interact with students on Facebook. This interaction raises too many ethical questions. Yes the internet is a great teaching tool for teachers and students to interact but it should a school monitored computer application that deals with only school activities (homework, links for parents, events page).

Teachers must understand that students will be students. If a student sees a stupid wall post or activity from one of their classmates, the student will embarass or joke with the classmate publicly. The same action will be done to a teacher. As with any organization, you represent the organization everyday. The teachers must understand that their actions represent the school as a whole.

sswog said...

Facebook is a social network established for friends and family to communicate with one another. It is a place that you can share pictures, catch up on the latest gossip, and make people aware of special events. This site has changed the way people communicate with one another.
Facebook has power. What you say will and can be used against you. There are more than 250 million people on Facebook. Each of these people uses the site to satisfy communication needs. So in summary, your page is technically personal in a very public place.
The teachers in the article have gotten themselves in trouble because they decided to vent on Facebook about the kids they teach. I do think that their first amendment rights are in jeopardy if the school board establishes rules about what they can say or do on Facebook. I think that people need to learn self control and etiquettes while using this website. You never know who is watching, so it would be best to follow Thumper’s example in that “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Bradley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bradley said...

I beleive in the first amendment, but there are limits. Courts are putting limits on the first amendment now a days if the content is harmful to others. That being said just as professional athletes, etc, or our very own basketball team this year had limits so should teachers. It is no need to cross the line between private life and professional life, especially in a public server position like teaching. That being said the regulating of teachers comments and actions on social networking sites is fine by me.

abuckhalter said...

I strongly feel when you take upon a professional career, your actions should reflect that of a professional person. Are the schools' policies violating teachers right free speech, is a question that can be justified. If the teacher posted- I had a long day at work. My students did not want to cooperate. I don't feel that punishment should be restore upon that teacher. Now if a teacher call the students out of their name or post a status with a student name in it then I strongly feel they should be discipline especially if its a negative comments.Most students idol their teachers and have confidence in them. So for a teacher to bash a child on the internet, it is wrong and very unprofessional.

There are many other professions/job that should not be discussed on a public website. Judges, lawyers, doctors, nurses, people that work in schools, and counselors should be very respectful of their clients and be mindful of the things that they post on websites.

BGibson said...

I personally feel that teachers should be allowed to use facebook, but only for the purpose in which it was intended. I am quite sure that whoever invented facebook did not do so for the exploitation of others. Most people post statuses about different situations that go on in their lives without allowing the world to know exactly who they are talking about or where a specific incident takes place. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but should be aware of how they expose it. There have been cases at my job in which individuals have gotten in trouble for things that they have posted on Facebook. Even though I am a Facebook user, I really think that some of the users are taking the communication source for granted.

The teachers first ammendment of freedom of speech will be violated if the schools come up with the what to say or not to say. However, teachers along with any other professionals should remember to handle themselves as professionals when they are in the eyes of the public. Some things that happen in the class room should remain in the class room and the students actions kept confidential.

Shelly said...

I think that teachers should be allowed to have a Facebook or Twitter account, but I think that they need to be careful of the things that they say and pictures they post on their site. I am a teacher and I have a Facebook and a Twitter account. I never post pictures of my students on my personal accounts. Most of the time I use the site to post updates about what is going on in my personal life. I very rarely use Facebook to post a status about work. If I do, I do not put the names of any students on there and I am careful that I what I say will not be offensive to those who read the post. If I post anything about work, it is usually a general statement, something like.."Fieldtrips with 50 teenagers...what was I thinking" or "tough day at work today, but tomorrow is a new day". It does not name anyone specifically. I also have a rule that I am not friends with any students. I have students who ask me all the time if they can "friend" me on Facebook and I just simply reply that we can be friends after they graduate. It just prevents anything from being said about improper conduct with me and another student. I also have a rule that I don't text or call students on their personal cell phones.
I think that teachers who use these sites as a means to vent about certain students, need to be careful. It seems that some parents and some members of society are just looking for something to accuse you of these days. It would take one improper photo or improper status, where a career could be destroyed.
Our school district has a moral clause in our contract that states if we do anything that could endanger the reputation of our role as a responsible adult leader that we could be removed from our position of authority. Basically, we have to be on guard all the time. WIth the students that I teach, I am required to take them on trips away from the school setting for competitions, etc. I have to really be careful and not let my guard down just because we are not at school. Even a momentary lapse in judgement could cost me my career. It is a huge responsibility to teach teenagers in this day and time.

Brandon L. Atkison said...

Ok first of all these states would be violating the teachers’ first amendment rights by dictating what they can and cannot say online. Everyone has a right to say what they believe unless it causes someone bodily harm. A policy that the states should implement would be a “work stays at work” type of policy. Yes we are human, and from time to time we get frustrated about things at work. That does not give us the right to go rant about it online. Teachers should know this and if they do not need to be oriented with this knowledge before they can become teachers. They may not realize the implications these statements can have on the students and their parents. Overall, teachers should learn to keep work at work and not talk about things that happen in the classroom on social networks.

JG Hanks said...

Why should teachers be any different than anyone else that a student comes in contact with? It's just another instance of trying to govern something that is basically common sense. Putting a law or restriction on something like this only potentially raises the instance of lawsuits and overzealous parent interaction. Does the policy extend to the principal and staff? What about the lunch lady?

When a person becomes a teacher they should be commended, not condemned with ridiculous actions such as these. It's becoming an alarming trend that so many institutions are trying to police social media and the internet. I hope before I die, we aren't living in a society that resembles the one in 1984.

The advent of technology, like any other invention can be used for negative things, but I believe the positive outweigh those tremendously. The teachers who got in trouble for speaking their minds should look into the privacy features that social media employ. Maybe that would have kept them out of trouble. Regardless, they shouldn't be limited to their opinions in any way. However, a little common sense and discretion can go a long way.

JLafond said...

I think that it doesn’t violate the teachers First Amendment rights by restricting them from posting things on Facebook and other sites. I believe that the First Amendment applies to everything, with the exception of slanderous material. Also I don’t think that teacher should post anything about their students online because I think that is unprofessional. I would hope that the teacher would be professional enough to refrain from posting things about his or her students online.

I think that people in public service jobs should be refrained from posting certain things on Facebook. I’m not suggesting that they are banned from Facebook, but they shouldn’t post things about their jobs. The can still post freely about other things and I don’t believe that restricting them is an issue. However, I’m not sure the courts would rule the same way if an employer challenged certain restrictions in court

candrews_4 said...

I feel that teachers should be able to have a Facebook page, but not post online anything about their students. There's a time and place to say and do things. No one should post anything negative about another individual online. Yes they are free to say whatever they want, but when it comes to education or being in a professional field, they should watch what they say. They are sort of like public figures and they have to watch what they do. No teacher, whether high school and under and college should post what a student does in class.

LMRowe said...

I think that teachers should be allowed to have a facebook page. I don’t think that they should be friends with their students or friends with the parent. By being friends with a student or parent, it will cause problems in the long run (it may be positive or negative). Also, I don’t think a teacher should post anything regarding their job on facebook. It will potentially make her employer look bad or that school may be seen in a bad light. I had to sign a policy about social networking and using facebook. Maybe the school should have teachers sign a policy on social networking. It will save the school from a potential lawsuit.

Sasha said...

I am kind of two-sided on this topic. I believe teachers should have the right to say what they want to say on social network; however, the consequences should weigh on them. For teacher to get on a social network and talk negative about students indicates that the teacher is not trustworthy of educating students. For the most part, they don't care about students.
Having a, educational job should come with certain expectation a far as how one should conduct themselves outside the school. after all, they still represent the school in which they work; therefore saying things like students will be drop-out, future criminal, and so on is disrespectful to parents, students, and schools. now i'm not saying band teachers from communicating on social networks; i'm saying, they should comment on thing that are within the best interest of the school, whether they are talking with students or updating their own status.

Elle B. said...

It would not be fair to restrict any adult from having a Facebook. It's perfectly ok for a teacher to have Facebook, but if they were to be 'friends' with students, it should stay strictly professional. Also, I think it would be better if the contact was between teacher and student of the same gender. It wouldn't seem as skeptical.

It is definitely not ok for a teacher to talk about their students on Facebook in a negative way. Maybe in a positive way if they are congratulating them on something. Yes teachers have a right to vent about frustrations, but not over a medium that is accessible to millions.