Some colleagues make great use of social media for their professional development. Then there are others who quite literally press the self-destruct button by being unprofessional.
Social media is the messy world where personal and professional lives can collide and when they do then all hell can break loose.
Posting opinions, comments and views online can be fraught with danger because what gets said can sometimes cause offence, be inappropriate or just be completely unnecessary. Reputations have been ruined by an exchange of abusive comments and no one wants a teacher like that in their team. Photos and tags have can also leave a trail of destruction behind.
Protecting your professional reputation should be top of the agenda for any teacher using social media and there are a few things that need to be considered.
1. Be cautious
Be ultra-cautious in fact. You have to be very careful about your social media activity and remember that everyone can see it. Posting things online can seem a bit anonymous or a bit niche but parents and pupils will see what you are doing.
Keep your worlds apart and have separate platforms for personal and professional activities so that the two don’t cross-over. Many teachers use Twitter for their jobs and Facebook for family. Having a distinction between your work and private life is essential for your mental health and well-being.
3. Just Don’t
Don’t communicate with students online because you will never hear the last of it and you leave yourself wide-open to safeguarding and child protection issues.
4. Don’t look
Some colleagues browse the accounts of the students they teach but that’s not what teachers should be doing with their time.
5. Students are not for sharing
Teachers post images and write about children in their classes but seek parental permission and check your school’s policy. Don’t mention students by name or even their first initial.
5. Take responsibility
The content you produce and publish is your own personal responsibility but reflects on the school and your colleagues. Social media use is something you have to get right.
Anyone using social media needs to regularly check their privacy settings to make sure that they are private and protected.
7. Join with care
If you are going to follow someone or join a particular group then you need to make sure that they aren’t going to contaminate and pollute your timeline with junk and inappropriate posts.
8. Think Ahead
If you don’t like your job or you are having a hard time then keep this off your timeline. It’s all too easy for people to check up and take a peek at what you said last year – bang goes that job interview.
9. Vet yourself
Take a look at the things you have posted and step outside yourself and see what others would see. Are you happy with your profile and history? Is it time for some house-keeping
Social media is there to have fun with on a personal level and a professional one too. It can be an enjoyable space to share your identity, your journey and your likes. But everything in moderation – don’t spend too long on there and become a social media obsessive and junkie.