The educational field has for some time, been considered a safe zone or a career where people don’t get fired and everything is dandy, this is not the case. In today’s day and age, the educational field has its own risks and specific guidelines that need to be followed exactly. That being said, If future educators are not aware of changing policies, there just be up for a career change.
For example, just recently, a teacher’s career is on the line because of social media post that was made more than a decade ago. This educator has to deal with the potential loss of his career for a distasteful post on social media.
That being said, as educators our every action is under the microscope and when it comes to technology those actions, no matter how old, can affect the likeness that we keep our jobs or it can even likeness we find or even obtain a new job following a dismissal. Moreover, understanding the dangers of technology can either make or break our career as educators. The culture is constantly changing and at times educators need to be like chameleons and adapt to the environment, whether we know it or not teachers are constantly in the limelight, understanding the risks are hand and taking actions to protect yourself against the misuse of technology may just save your career.
Many educators are unaware of the growing risk of technology and I have decided to point out three tips to keep in mind, throughout your life, and within the classroom in order to play it safe, protect yourself and protect your students.
Beware of Social Media
Recently, social media has begun part of our everyday lives, it connects us to family and friends and even colleagues who assist us in our journey. At times it feels like they would be no danger on these sites or one may think that their facebook or twitter is a safe zone for their thoughts and feelings. This is not always the case, Our social media sites have become reflections of ourselves and posts and those who we interact with can misconstrued in countless ways. By understanding the privacy settings of the various sites you can make sure to prevent unwanted viewers on your site who can either comment or tag you in inapposite material. Also, you can make it your mission to not post controversial photos, vernacular or ideas which may raise eyebrows considering your career as a teacher and the influence you have on the youth. Lastly, it may be very important to “purge” your social media sites of anything that you feel may question your professionalism, such as old pictures, posts or anything that was done at a previous time in your life, so that you may not be questioned for something that happened a decade ago. (Be wary with this, because many feelings change over time, so something that was 100% ok a decade ago, may not be seen as ok in today’s changing social climate.
FERPA or the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (1974) serves to protect the privacy or a students educational information. The law limits, third party access to student information and only grants it to selected individuals, including parents and school administration. The law is in place to protect students and to make sure that their information is not wrongfully distributed. This destruction can be made in many ways and technology can cause some teacher to either purposely or accidentally spread information about their students.
This law should be clearly understood and abided, I would recommend reading up on the law and becoming aware, so you may not fall into trouble by unknowing breaking it. When it comes to technology I recommend not taking pictures of students to work where it displays their name and any other personal information, block out any information before taking the picture and be careful with who you share it. Also, if you grade your students online do not leave your computer or other devices accessible so to prevent others from gaining the information. Also, be wary about posting your students on your social media, whether negative or positive, these posts can also be looked at breaking the law and it may cost you your job.
Understand your Technology
Lastly, I’d like to touch on a very important thought about technology in the classroom. As an educator, there are many things going on the classroom that may distract us from the amount of technology around us, or we have been so accustomed to it that at times we forget its potential, good or bad. In this case, it may be beneficial to our well being that we keep a mind of the dangers. Technology in the classroom is an ever-growing field and it needs to be accustomed to a high amount of responsibility. Technology has many hidden features that need to be fully realized. For instance, computers have access to the world wide web and if not protected carefully can give your students access to unnecessary websites or functions. As educators, we truly need the eyes on the back of our heads in reference to technology, especially in an age where it seems students know more about eh equipment than their educators.
Many issues can revolve around not fully realizing the potential danger of easily accessible technology, for instance, there was a case of a teacher in South Carolina who had NFSW picture in her private phone and it somehow got into the hands of students who then shared the picture. The teacher has since been removed from her position and further actions were taken. Read below
Even in the case, where this teacher may have been doing her job and may have fallen victim, she was to blame for not understanding how crucial it is to keep watch of the technology in the class and to be observant how it is being used. I suggest leaving your cellular device away from students view or making sure to also purge it of unnecessary items, or even put more security passwords on it. This should be understood about all technology in the classroom.
- Check out this video of example classroom rules when it comes to technology, your rules may differ depending on equipment but it is important to set certain usage guidelines.
Teaching is a very serious job and if we don’t see it as such we may fall victim to the consequence. Again, we need to adapt to our environments and understand the dangers that are around us. While being great educators we need to also protect ourselves.
As always, follow me on Twitter, where I post further thought on education, @mrjoshtorres