Online Activity

Online Activity and Social Networking for Teachers and ESP



School employees with contract status or “just cause” rights have greater protections against discipline for online postings than those under probationary status. Those protected employees can only be disciplined if the employer can show a legitimate reason related to standards of conduct or competence.

Within the context of off-duty conduct (e.g., online postings) many courts have required a showing that such conduct had an adverse effect on the employee’s ability to perform her/his job. Probationary employees often don’t have “just cause” protection, and mistakenly believe the First Amendment protects their right to post anything online.

 

Unfortunately, school and college employee speech is not entitled to First Amendment protection under the following conditions:

 

  • If the employee is merely speaking about matters of personal concern (e.g., social functions, gripes)
  • School officials can show the employee’s speech might disrupt the workplace or interfere with job performance

As with any possible questions about your rights in the workplace, please contact your union/association representative or local office.

 


Social Networking

 

Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn are great boons for connecting with people you know from next door or around the globe. They can also serve as tools for easily sharing information and organizing around important and/or fun issues.

Facebook, in particular, is developing into an engaging and vast online network where people tend to use their real names and share details about their lives, ideas, and tastes.

As public employees it’s important to take a little more care than the average person.

 

Some tips to keep in mind:

 

Consider that students, fellow employees, supervisors, parents, and community members may find your online content. Show moderation!

 

  • Accept an online friendship only from someone you know and trust in the real world. Exercise standard “stranger danger” caution. Also use caution when choosing to accept a “friend request” from a student.
  • Take advantage of the network’s privacy settings and control who can see which portions of your site. People can run searches on your background, including work history, personal profile, photos, and so on. Edit what they may find.
  • Monitor items posted to your site to ensure the content is appropriate. Often photos can be tagged with your name. Most tags can be removed if the photo may be embarrassing. The people in the photo with you know you all had fun - maybe leave it at that!
  • Avoid using vulgar or obscene language, or posting negative information about your students or school administrators. Take a deep breath and count to ten before typing up your thoughts.

 


Create Your Own Education Community

 

School districts have started using social networking tools (also called Web 2.0) to enhance public education, create dialogue and encourage more participation in district-wide issues.


Some district use Facebook and Twitter accounts to:

  • Post videos from recent budget hearings and other notable events for those unable to attend in person
  • Post photos from school activities
  • Post questions and responses from parents and students to other Facebook “friends”
  • Provide links to important pending legislation (Dept. of Ed budget, safeguarding students, etc.)
  • Answer frequently asked questions about the recent flu outbreak and other breaking news
  • Encouraging “friends” to begin discussion topics that generate further input and conversation in the community.

In today’s “information age,” social networking tools provide opportunities for you to catch up on important decisions made by your district and local Association.

 

Keep up with current events by “following” your local legislators and news sources on Twitter.

 

Share tips with your colleages on LinkedIn. Find FEA on Twitter. Enter FloridaEA.

Become a fan of FEA on Facebook!  Enter “Make Our Schools A Priority” in the search engine.

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