Teachers on Facebook: The Slippery Slope

As if teachers don’t have it hard enough, then there’s Facebook. What a slippery slope it must be with privacy and other issues. They want the fun and convenience of social media too. Yet, teachers on Facebook have to be more careful than the rest of us.

Teachers are overworked and in a vast number of locations, grossly underpaid.

At least, teachers should be able to unwind on Facebook without judgement.

Facebook seems to be the outlet of choice, though many are hanging around on other social media platforms as well. Teachers have a right to Post and Like and Comment and Share like everyone else.

However, whether teachers want to be or not, in the town in which they work — especially a smaller town — they are public figures.

For better or for worse, people set teachers at a higher standard than the parents and everyone else. Teachers have to take extra care when posting on social media.

Teachers on Facebook

Teachers, your school community puts you on a pedestal. You know how it is when one of your students sees you in the grocery store, and it’s as if you are a celebrity?

You are perfect.

We want our children to make a good impression on you. Heck, we want to make a good impression for you.

Of course, teachers are real people and have the right to their private lives like the rest of us. They need to be able to live their lives, decompress, chill out — free from their job titles — when they are out and about and online.

Yet, it’s harder for them.

Teachers having privacy

It’s even more challenging when a teacher has her own child at the school and/or lives within the school boundary.

These teachers just want to be “one of the moms” and part of a group too. And they have every right to be.

They can be friends with anyone they want to because they are moms like everyone else.

They love Facebook like everyone else does.

But unfortunately, just like they are “on” in the classroom all day, everyday, they have to take extra care to be appropriate in everything they say in real life and extra aware of what they are putting out into cyberspace.

Teachers on Facebook
It’s got to be tough to be a teacher on Facebook.

For their own best interests, some should be even more concerned with privacy.

Just as a teacher doesn’t want to publish his/her address and personal email in the school directory, they need to be extra careful about what they post.

Even if parents aren’t Facebook friends with teachers, chances are random people can go to any teacher’s wall and learn more about him/her.

If I were a teacher, I’d set my privacy settings very high!

Male teachers have it even worse in many ways. While they’re not as likely going to hang out in the way female teachers do, males encounter different obstacles.

Through their careers, they’ve learned they must be more careful with the Internet and communications inside and outside of school due to misunderstandings, gossip, harassment lawsuits, etc.

Teachers being Facebook friends with students and parents

Certainly, social media must really be a challenge for teachers.

Regarding the students, teachers have to be extra-careful to ensure all interactions are appropriate. Many teachers have a rule of never sending out Friend Requests to students, only accepting them.

Many will only accept a Friend Request after the student graduates from high school.

Regarding being Facebook friends with their students’ parents, teachers need to worry about favoritism, confidentiality, and more.

Some teachers have the policy of not being Facebook friends with their students’ parents until after the school year ends. Now do they go through the trouble of unfriending parents when a sibling is in their class years later?

What a pain.

Teachers are in a dual role and are trying their best to not cross boundaries. It’s got to be difficult every single day.

Facebook for teachers

For all teachers on Facebook, it seems moderation is key.

Most teachers are able to maintain a friendly, professional stance.

The majority of them avoid political subjects and other hot topics.

They have to avoid posting anything negative about their jobs, administration, workplace, students or the parents online. While many of us non-teachers can complain about a bad day at work, teachers really can’t.

It’s just different for them.

Teachers in the public eye on social media

What does this mean? People are watching and noticing and paying attention to what teachers are doing more than they may with other people. {Teachers: Take it as a compliment. You are interesting!}

Whether you want to be or not, teachers, you are public figures. You are in the spotlight every day.

There are many eyes reading your Posts and Comments.

While unfortunate, the fact remains you are being held to a higher standard than the rest of us. It’s got to be wearisome.

Teachers have rights and a right to Facebook just like the rest of us but it is somehow a little bit different and more challenging for you. We appreciate your hard work and how much you love and care for our children. Thank you for all that you do.

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