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Social media policies for teachers? That old feeling, again.

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           Most of us don’t remember when teachers had draconian restrictions on their personal lives as a condition for employment. However, a nationwide barrage of legislative activity has revived the specter of those generations in which women began entering the teaching profession but were treated as anything but professionals. Headlines about imposed restrictions on social media interaction are coinciding with the reality that online training technology in the classroom will define the quality of a nation’s educational system. Perhaps it’s no surprise that restrictions, often arbitrary and sometimes accusatory in their tone, are becoming popular as they are foisted upon a profession in which over 75% of its practitioners are women. Getting ahead of this issue is in the best interests of teaching, in general, and professional women, specifically.

           If you teach in public school, you’re probably aware that, for some reason, your profession is being viewed with unveiled contempt by influential, vocal critics. At the heart of many complaints against teachers is the alleged lack of competiveness of American students when compared to those of other nations. Contrasted with this theme is the general agreement that the use of technology in the classroom is crucial for our schools to perform better relative to other countries despite gross differences in public educational systems and values. Gross contradictions aside, social media has become the focal point for the teacher critics, despite years of widespread incorporation by classroom teachers.

          It is likely in the best interests of teachers to regain for those who don’t teach the initiative in addressing the use of technology in the classroom. Social media policies that build upon existing, tested standards of practice, as opposed to presumptions of malicious intent on the part of those who’ve dedicated their lives to educating future generation of Americans, serve the highest interests of all concerned. Here are some guiding concepts to consider when balancing legitimate educational needs, respect for the professional and student safety.

-Educational interests

    The appropriate use of social media in the classroom is well recognized by experts.

    Improving the professional relationship between student and teacher promotes better learning. •

-Professional respect

    Teachers don’t become conditional citizens by virtue of their occupation.

    Teachers do accept certain limitations of interaction with student within a well-defined scope.

    Due process protects the interests of both students and educational professionals.

-Student safety

    Collaboration among policy makers, schools and parents/guardians best serves student safety.

          By using these focal points to lead in the development of social media policies , agendas of the past that impacted women then and certainly would again today, are harder to prevail in any open discussion of procedure. In short, using these guidelines may help both the retention of professional respect and the improvement student engagement and learning.

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