Teachers Cautioned on Behavior When Using Social Internet Sites


(Thursday, May 29, 2008 5:47 AM EDT)

Many young professionals don't think twice about posting pictures of last week's party or happy hour on their Facebook or MySpace profiles. But young teachers might want to consider the problems such postings could cause.

“When you decide to become a teacher, you put yourself in the public eye,” Arlington Education Association president Lee Dorman said. “People are much quicker to make judgments on an educator, because we take care of their children. They hold us to a higher moral standard.”

How exactly should teachers approach the online, social-networking scene?

Dorman shares some information and advice:

“First, if you have a Facebook or MySpace profile, look at it critically and decide if it's something you'd want your mother to see,” Dorman said. “Second, don't tell the kids - it's not meant for them. And last, look very critically at who could access your account.”

Teachers and school staff who don't understand the draw of Facebook and MySpace have to realize that socializing has changed drastically in recent years, she said.

“We have an entire generation of people who socialize differently, perhaps, from the way their supervisors would,” Dorman said.

But in Arlington Public Schools, it's actually supervisors and more experienced colleagues who help young teachers learn what is appropriate to post on their profiles. All first-year teachers in the county have mentors who counsel them on numerous issues, including Internet use and safety.

Of course, some teachers aren't particularly happy that they can't post whatever they want, but Dorman reminds them that “life's not fair.”

“Our job is to mold kids and to be role models,” she said. “There's a social line you cross when you're an educator.”

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