Technology is a blessing… and a curse if used inappropriately. As an educator, you must understand that your use of technology inside and outside of the classroom will be criticized even more than the average adult. Even so, this article will be helpful to any professional who can’t seem to find a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate.
1.) My first rule for the use of technology, specifically social media, is be respectful. Human’s seem to have the tendency to become more “courageous” when sitting behind a screen. When not face to face with the individuals you are insulting, it is easy to say what you want. However, what you say online is forever. Nothing is ever deleted permanently. Educators should be especially cautious to what they post, as students can be extremely impressive to what they can dig up. Never post embarrassing or offensive material because it will come back to haunt you. Overall, the first way you can get fired by using technology is posting inappropriate material.
Example: Just recently a second-grade teacher from Mississippi was fired for posting a racist message on her Facebook page. In this post she suggested that all black people “Move back to Africa.” That extremely offensive content was reported which resulted in her firing. The article on this incident can be found here.
2.) Another easy way to get fired as a teacher is through privately messaging your students. Whether through Facebook chat, messaging applications, or text messaging, it is never a good idea to engage in these conversations. A great alternative to doing this is using apps that are specifically designed for student-teacher interaction. Examples of these apps include the Remind app or Edmondo. Whether your messages with your students are innocent or not, the idea of these private messages is extremely suspicious. I would recommend avoiding sharing personal information such as phone numbers and social media accounts no matter what.
Example: In Utah, a well respected high-school teacher will potentially have his teaching license revoked after being caught messaging a 17-year old student. He has already been fired for the time being and the police are deciding whether or not to charge him criminally. These messages were sent a year ago to a student who is now graduated. This is a prime example of why you should stay professional as an educator to your students. The article on this example could be found here.
3.) One last way that you can get fired by using technology is over-using the internet, or using the internet in an inappropriate way at the workplace. Being an educator, there will most likely be a computer in front of you all day. As well as this, you will most likely always have your smartphone with you (if you are like 99% of the world!). This technology, although helpful, can be extremely distracting. As well as this, searching up inappropriate images or videos on a school computer can get you fired as well. It is important to limit your time on the internet when using it for personal reasons at school. It is even more important to keep your searches appropriate. Here is an example of a Las Vegas teacher who did not keep his searches appropriate and is now being fired.
In conclusion, it is important to stay smart about what you post inside and outside of the school. Remember, that everything you post, message and search is tracked. Be conscious that what you write could potentially be seen by the world. The internet is a great tool if we just use it correctly.