A couple of years ago I wrote an article about the importance of managing your school’s presence on social networks like Facebook, but but the same is true of your personal “brand” as well.

According to the General Teaching Council Scotland, disciplinary incidents involving social media in education have been on the rise and is projected to continue to increase. The Guardian has written an excellent article explaining the pitfalls of being a teacher on social media, something that everyone working in education should be aware of.

“Potential teachers need to bear in mind that parents may be looking up the content you post thinking, ‘gosh, that person’s looking after my child,’ and making judgments about that.”

The social media disclaimer has become common place. Phrases like “Views are my own” and “RTs not endorsements” provide no legal protection whatsoever. Disclaimer or not, anything you put out there directly reflects on your professional life and that of your employer.

Disciplinary incidents involving social media in education have been on the rise. “In the last year we had 11 or 12 cases involving online behaviour,” says Lindsay Thompson, head of fitness to teach at General Teaching Council Scotland.”

The reaction of many teachers is simply to have nothing to do with social media, but this in itself isn’t a solution. By ignoring Facebook and Twitter, and burying your head in the sand, you lose all control over your online presence. That picture of you at the Christmas party, or the video with you doing the silly dance in the staff room are still going to get posted online, you just won’t know about it and will be unable to control the message.

Even though Facebook allows you to control both your overall profile visibility and who sees individual posts, you still need to be careful about what you post. Facebook is notorious for changing how privacy works, so it’s advisable to review regularly what information is available to those outside your friendship group.

Does your school have an IT policy in place to advise on proper social media use by teachers? Has this ever been an issue for you? Let me know in the comments.

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About Author

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Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.

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