Social Media and Internet Advice

The lines between public, private, professional, and personal worlds are often blurred by the internet. As a teacher, you can never be too careful with privacy. Here are some things to keep in mind.

When parents sign photo consent forms at the beginning of the year, these do not give you, as the teacher, the right to take pictures of them any time you want and to post them online. It is important to understand that these photo consent forms are typically to allow children to be photographed for activities happening at the school and also yearbook photos. They generally do not protect you should a parent find a photo of their child taken by you on the internet.

I said it before and I'll say it again. Nothing is private on the internet. It is not okay to take pictures of your class and post it to your social media. Even if you have the most private settings possible—it’s not okay! It is also not okay to post pictures on a blog or in a Facebook group you are a part of. (Even teacher Facebook groups! You never know who is really in them!) I see this just about every day, and I just think to myself how that would make me feel as a parent if that were my child’s photo being shared in a group of thousands of people. Sure, the teacher might be sharing a fun activity they did, but does that give the teacher the right to post my child’s photo online? It doesn’t. It’s also not okay to post pictures of students on Instagram, Twitter, or anywhere else! All it takes is for one person to take a screenshot of your social media, and then they can send it to whoever they want. Remember, it is your job to protect your students.
It’s not okay to talk in specifics on social media about your class, a specific student, parent, family, administrator or co-worker. Don’t name names, and just don’t do it period. It’s bad etiquette and could cost you your job! Even if you are being vague or venting to “friends” chances are people can figure out who you are talking about. 

Your district might have a specific policy for social media. Have you read it? A lot of people don’t realize their district has policies in place that forbid them from “friending” families or students. Your district might also forbid you from tagging them as your place of work! Hand in hand with this come policies that say that you can be held accountable for what you post online. I have witnessed people being fired for insensitive things posted on the internet.

While I caution against posting any pictures on social media of your students, the exception might be creating a closed Facebook group where you invite parents only. I strongly advise you to run it by your administrator first, and to get expressed written consent from parents to post classroom photos in this closed group. (Separate from any photo consent form signed for the school.) 

You can never be too cautious with what you put online. Think of your career, your families, and of course, your students.

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