Teachers are people too

Apparently, teachers in Ohio are being encouraged not to join social networking sites or participate in other online communities or dating websites.

Does this make you as angry as it makes me? If it doesn't, maybe it should.

Okay, I get it. We don't want our teachers having inappropriate relationships with students. That shouldn't have to be said. But come on - MySpace and Facebook aren't causing that. Teachers have lives outside of their profession, and they shouldn't have to worry that their online presence will cause them to be accused of being "immoral" or "unprofessional." Instead, teachers should be encouraged to join social networks. Why? Because it's what their students are doing! Teachers need to understand what these services are and why their students are interested in them. In the library world, we are doing everything we can to join these sites and see what makes them so popular. We understand that to make the library more relevant, we need to go where our communities are going - and right now, that's online. And for teachers and librarians who grew up with the Internet, we shouldn't be expected to stop our online activities for our jobs. Furthermore, it's appalling to me that teachers would be discouraged from joining dating websites. Trying to find love on a dating website doesn't equate to doing inappropriate things with students. It just doesn't.

My point is this - we're all people, and we shouldn't have to change who we are or what we do in our free time because of our jobs. Now, if what we're doing is wildly inappropriate, then we should be reprimanded for our actions. But being a teacher doesn't automatically make you a better person than anyone else, and it's certainly not fair to those people who have dedicated their lives to educating our children to be told what they can and can't do outside of work.

4 Responses to "Teachers are people too"

luckeyfrog responded on 11/16/2007 1:07 PM #

It's not a terribly unexpected stance, in my mind, especially after cases like this: http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/14584

In my teaching classes, we've heard time and time again that you'd better keep your Facebook profile and Myspace page and anything similar from being accessible to everyone, or that it'd better be squeaky clean. The ability of students, parents, colleagues, and principals to access whatever you put online is somewhat dangerous in a profession that is thought to require moral superiority.

That said, people are stupid. I can't tell you how many of my fellow education students frequently post pictures of themselves absolutely wasted (often before they turn 21) or doing other things you probably wouldn't want your future employer to see. I think a couple of them also assume that elementary students aren't going to be on Facebook or Myspace, but one of the fifth graders I work with claims 'playing on Myspace' as one of his favorite out-of-school activities.

Still, I agree with you that teachers shouldn't be encouraged not to use these sites. As long as they're smart about it, there's no reason that they shouldn't use them. Facebook's a valuable communication tool-- I keep in much closer contact with many high school friends because of it. And I agree that sometimes, knowing the new Internet things can help make your teaching relevant or interesting to the kids. Some classes now use blogs or wikis as learning tools, and I think it's great. Teachers have to stay up-to-date in order to keep their teaching up to date.

Anyway, this was long. And I'm not even sure you have any clue who I am (Jenny, Ryan Garwood's girlfriend... he pointed me in the direction of this post). But basically, I agree with you 100%. :)

luckeyfrog responded on 11/16/2007 1:10 PM #

Ooh-- also, our educational technology class here taught us how to create a website and talked about using websites, blogs, and Internetty things to communicate with parents. For many parents, online communication with teachers is preferred for convenience. I'm not saying you should do this through Myspace, but still.

Maihop responded on 11/16/2007 3:30 PM #

Jenny -

Thanks so much for responding! (And yes, I know who you are... but only from pictures and your comments on Erica and Ryan's blogs, haha.) It's good to hear perspective from someone who's actually in the profession. It sucks that the actions of a few stupid people ruin the fun for those who are responsible online - because if you're a pervert that wants to have a relationship with one of your students, you're going to do that whether or not you have a profile online.

I guess I just get really fired up about these issues because so many people think that sites like MySpace and Facebook are evil or bad, and a bunch of schools and libraries are blocking these sites so kids can't use them. I also don't like the idea of your employer being able to dictate what you do in your personal life. That being said, I totally agree that if you are in the teaching profession, you have to be really careful what you put out there. A friend of mine who is a teacher in Cincinnati was even told by her school when she got the job to try and live outside of the community to avoid running into her students outside of school.

I'm glad that you have classes where online communication with parents is being encouraged - and I also love that your said "internetty." Haha.

I have a feeling that if we ever meet up in real life, we'll have a lot to talk about. :)

Chaser responded on 11/16/2007 4:42 PM #

I pretty much agree with what you all are saying, and really it's basic common sense. My roommate is a teacher, and guess what: her Myspace is private, not because her employer told her to make it private but because she damn sure doesn't want her students all up in her business and looking at pictures she's posted of...whatever squeaky clean things she does on the weekends. Heh.