With the increased presence and frequency of pupils using social media platforms, schools have embraced a focus on promoting a positive online presence through whole-school discussions about the internet and social media. However, as a teacher it’s also important to consider your own profile and behaviour online - and whether you’re following your own rules.
Take the time to reflect on your own position online with our best practice tips for preserving your privacy and being smart online:
We all have personal opinions, and some of us are more likely to vocalise these than others – however – before you unleash your opinions to your followers, take a moment to reflect on whether this is suitable. Think, what would you feel if you saw this update from someone else, and could it be perceived in a negative light? It may seem like you’re overly cautious in your personal life but with the ease and accessibility of social media it is best to play it safe with your online brand. Many have now established documentation around their particular rules for social media, but some basics you should always abide by are no mentioning of the school, no befriending pupils online and no communication with pupils or parents outside the school environment.
‘Everyone needs to play their part in ensuring a positive and friendly online community’
Positive online citizenship
Everyone needs to play their part in ensuring a positive and friendly online community. It can be easy to “hide” behind your screen and play observer to damaging behaviour from others whilst online. But this kind of passive behaviour is not something you would want from your students, so why should you be any different? Each person should hold themselves accountable to a level of responsibility whilst online, if you see an abusive comment or negative tweet, report it so that you’ve done your part in maintaining an encouraging community with your online citizenship.
Dealing with the negative
With recent headlines declaring that bullying is still as rife ever in schools and that online abuse is on the rise within teenagers’ circles, it’s important to understand how to respond to the negative whilst online, in order to best be able to advise and support your pupils in similar matters. It’s all too easy for things to be misconstrued online, understand the best way to express yourself and deal with negativity; whether that’s using your language to stay neutral and diffuse a situation, or simply action a report and move on. Even though your students can’t see, beyond the classroom you still need to act as an example in being able to handle managing negativity.
‘…it has now become common for educators to go under a different name online, in an effort to remain “under the radar” from these digital detectives’
Policing your privacy
It might seem obvious to many educators, but it’s imperative that you have your social accounts on the highest privacy settings available for you. In an arena of curious students, a generation who have grown up with technology at their fingertips, their online skills can often far exceed your own – with this in mind it has now become common for educators to go under a different name online, in an effort to remain “under the radar” from these digital detectives.
It’s not a simple matter of defending against people finding your profile and seeing what you allow any public member to, you also need to consider the level of privacy you operate with your online friends. Many of us have their colleagues as friends online, regardless of your profession, but it’s important that we think through how you present yourself online. It’s all too simple for a fellow colleague to report you to a Head of Department or Senior Leadership member over something they consider a breach of online etiquette.
Whilst technology becomes more sophisticated and social media more prevalent in our lives, it’s important that everyone remains vigilant and educated on how to manage themselves online. And remember, as a teacher a better online experience starts with you – lead by example for your pupils.
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About this author
Paul has been with Hays since 1999 and the National Director of Hays Education since 2007. He is responsible for leading experts from 40 offices across the UK who specialise in recruiting for Early Years, Primary, Secondary, SEN, Further Education and Leadership staff on a daily supply, long term supply or permanent basis. His extensive experience is invaluable to ensuring schools, colleges, nurseries, academies and MATs have access to the best possible candidates.