Facebook faux pas

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by Cerek, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Dec 26, 2009

    I wanted to share a mistake I made during my internship as a reminder to new teachers and soon-to-be teachers about the amount of caution and restraint we should exercise with all the technology now available.

    A few weeks before my internship ended, one of our middle school students (a boy) was caught receiving text messages on his cell phone from his girlfriend at another school. Our assistant principal confiscated the cell phone. While the phone was in her possession, two more text messages came through from the girlfriend.

    The principal at the other school is a personal friend of mine and her daughter was the one sending the text messages during school hours. So, in a moment of poor judgement, I decided to send a PM to my friend through Facebook (since I didn't have her email address). Not only did my friend react very defensively to the PM, on Monday I was told by our principal that the mother of the boy (our student) had called to complain about the incident and claimed I told my friend the boy was a "bad influence" on her daughter (which was not true).

    The principal was very calm and professional about the situation, but understandably, was very concerned I might have posted confidential school information on a public social website. I assured him that the information could only have been seen by the intended recipient (since it was a PM) and I never mentioned anything about the boy at all. I had simply told my friend I felt she should know her daughter had been sending text messages during school hours. The next day, I brought in a printed copy of my PM and the response from the mother/principal. My principal read the message and agreed there was no mention of our student at all and that the message itself was very generic. Still, we both agreed that it had been a moment of poor judgement on my part and I assured him nothing similar to that would ever happen again.

    The moral of this story is to remember that technologies like Facebook, Twitter, and even text messages are considered the same as the town square since anyone could read what you might post or say. We've all seen examples of individuals being fired from their jobs for remarks they made on Facebook - even though the individuals felt the remarks should be considered "private conversation" because it wasn't done on the job. That doesn't matter, though. Facebook is considered a public domain and if you post anything negative or confidential about your school, administration, staff, team members and/or kids you could very easily be fired.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 26, 2009

    I'm not a facebook user, and I've always been a BIG proponent of watching what you put online.

    But on behalf of so many others here, thanks for the reminder!!!
     
  4. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Dec 27, 2009

    I rarely use it for anything other than finding former friends and/or classmates. I also never post anything on my "wall". The only reason I sent a PM to my friend through Facebook is because I didn't have her regular email address.

    The PM is the same as an email, it can only be viewed by the intended recipient. But others have posted personal thoughts or feelings for public viewing and been disciplined or even fired for it (an employee for the Philadelphia Eagles was one of the first to be fired for posting negative comments about employer decisions on Facebook).
     
  5. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Dec 27, 2009

    I would have been upset also. I don't think it was any of your business and not your place to contact the parent. She is not your student.
     
  6. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Dec 27, 2009

    We need to remember that even PM and emails can be copy/pasted and then broadcast to the entire world by the recipient.

    I talk to my students a lot about this. Once a message goes digital there is no guarantee that it is private.
     
  7. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Dec 27, 2009

    We had a demonstration this year about bullying, and they talked about posting stuff online. They took a can of silly string and sprayed it all over another actor. Then, when the actor's feelings were hurt, they tried to put the string back in the can--which of course didn't happen. They likened it to posting something online-you can't EVER take it back. My kids still talk about that, and when someone says a put down, they all shout "silly string!"
     
  8. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    Dec 28, 2009

    We've been strongly advised by our school not to have facebook, myspace, or twitter accounts.
     
  9. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Dec 28, 2009

    That is unfortunate. Twitter has become my best source of professional development. I have a network of teachers always available to answer questions and spark ideas. We share so much good stuff about education.
     
  10. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Dec 28, 2009

    So, if you knew the child of a friend was sending text messages during classtime, violating school rules (which could lead to the phone being confiscated), you wouldn't tell your friend about it?
     
  11. myownwoman

    myownwoman Habitué

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    Dec 28, 2009

    I am a facebook user and I am always vigilant about what I do or say online. Thanks for the reminder!
     
  12. MsTeckel

    MsTeckel Comrade

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    Dec 28, 2009

    We had a teachers assistant fired 2 days before Christmas for something she posted on Facebook. We believe it was something bout not liking her job and the students were horrible and not the ones she started with. Her wall was public, but I dont believe she was fired over that.
     
  13. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Dec 28, 2009

    Not while on the job.
     
  14. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I wouldn't tell her, especially if it wasn't my student-and I would need to be directly involved if it was my student. If I wasn't, not my place.
     
  15. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Dec 30, 2009

    ku_alum and kcjo13 - I appreciate your responses. I agree it was a bad decision and a good lesson learned.

    ame8199 - That's one of the reasons I started this thread, because I've seen other users post things on Facebook that could possibly come back to haunt them. During my internship, one of the teachers was talking about some critical comments posted by the PTA President on Facebook about the school.
     
  16. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jan 1, 2010

    I would not only worry about pm's and status updates, but also what fan pages you're adding yourself to. I recently read over the ones I had joined from the early days of Facebook (I was in college at the time, so it was more private) and I noticed that there were alot of poor language usage in them.

    I highly recommend that teachers go through their facebook profiles (especially if they're young :)) and delete most of the content. Do this especially if you're adding faculty members to your facebook (I have a number of co-workers on mine, including my supervisor).
     
  17. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jan 1, 2010

    I've made a lot of use out of the grouping features. I can add people I wouldn't have added in the past, simpy because I can put them in a group that has more limited access to my stuff. Use the privacy technology to its fullest.
     
  18. TampaTeacher2Be

    TampaTeacher2Be Comrade

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    Jan 4, 2010

    unfortunately not even that is a guarantee of privacy. I would be very cautious of posting anything that you think is of questionable nature on my page, privacy protected or not. A lot of people are not aware of this, but what you post on facebook becomes property of facebook. And they have the right to use it in any way they see fit. This is in the fine print of the terms and conditions. Not to mention, what is to prevent someone on your friends list from distributing content to people you do not want seeing it? It's a slippery slope, in my opinion.

    I do have a facebook, but I keep it very neutral. I try to stick with the thought that I keep my page in such a way that I would not be ashamed if my principal and/or parents were to one day see it.
     
  19. exiled_seagull

    exiled_seagull Rookie

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    Jan 5, 2010

    As a geek I can offer some useful advice. If you're going to use facebook with the students (and it's valid and useful to do so) then use your real name on that account and have a separate personal account that lacks your full name. Do NOT have any links between the two, no friends in common, etc.
    At my school the kids are all on facebook so a few of us teachers are there too to monitor things as best we can to keep bullying to a minimum. It's tough of course because the kids use a lot of inappropriate language which puts one in a difficult position of whether to 'go teacher' on them or pretend you didn't see it. I generally favour a humorous teachery rebuke.
    Some of our teachers do stupid stuff like post their drunken pictures on there. I've told them they're being a bit daft to say the least, they haven't listened, but there's not much I can do about that.
     
  20. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Why the automatic assumption that because I use the privacy protections to the fullest extent, that I would put anything questionable out there? There is nothing on my page that my kids or my grandmother couldn't read, nor will there ever be. I just don't feel the need for work "friends" to see the idle chatter of my personal friends. For example, do you really want to know about my sister's broken coffee pot? That's just a waste of your time, but funny to me.
     
  21. Crzy_ArtTeacher

    Crzy_ArtTeacher Comrade

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    Jan 5, 2010

    Before I post anything on my wall or on anyone elses I really think about whether I would want my principal reading it. I actually DO have a parent who is my 'friend' on Facebook, and he is also the PTG president so I am very aware of what I put online.
     
  22. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I honestly don't use my Facebook account actively, other than to search for past friends or classmates (I finally connected with my frat big brother after more than 20 years :D).

    I never post anything on my wall and haven't joined any groups I would be worried about anyone seeing. I also never accept students of friends of my children as friends on my personal FB page. Last year (when I was just doing substitute work), a female classmate of my 10 yr old sent a friend request. I saw the girl every morning (since I went in to visit with my boys while they are breakfast) and knew her from school, so I accepted her request. When I chose to "Ignore" an invitation from her to join a group she liked, she apparently got angry and removed me from her friend list.

    During my internship, several of my students asked if I had an FB page and I admitted I did, but would not tell them my first name. It took them several weeks to finally figure it out and find my page. When they told me they found it, I told them up front that I did not accept invitations from my students as a matter of policy.

    Once I get a classroom of my own, however, I think it will be a good idea to set up a new FB page with my "school identity" on it. I agree there are very appropriate uses of FB for communication and contact with students and parents, so I will probably take advantage of that - and follow suggestions given here about how to use it properly. :cool:
     
  23. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I'm very cautious about what I post on FB. My life is pretty boring anyhow.
     
  24. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    My principal is my friend on facebook so I'm always very cautious of what I post....I'd be careful anyway because I know its public.
     
  25. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jan 13, 2010

    Well - I had an opportunity to see the friend (and principal) that I sent the FB PM to today. I admit I was somewhat nervous because I subbed for her a great deal last year and I was hoping I could get back on their call list now that my student teaching is done. But I was concerned that she might still be upset over the PM.

    Fortunately, it all worked out. She was very friendly and told me that my name had actually come up this morning for possible substitute work.

    I'm very glade my lapse in judgement didn't cause any permanent damage and I've definitely learned my lesson from it.
     
  26. halpey1

    halpey1 Groupie

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    Jan 16, 2010

    Ditto - it's a good lesson. Last year I realized my facbook profile was visible to ANYONE (when a parent told me she saw my pictures of trip to Greece - yikes!) and quickly changed that setting.
     

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