Tips to guide the appropriate use of social network for teachers and ESPs...

Whether inside or outside of the school building, your use of e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, blogging, and social networking can affect you and your job.You and your colleagues are on smartphones, tablets and laptops sharing updates with their fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and a host of different social networks.

"Social networking" has transformed communications. It uses web-based services that focus on building interactive online social communities of people willing to share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Social networking sites allow you to share your personal information, interests, educational and professional information, photos, and other information. These sites allow you to connect with colleagues, former classmates and friends by becoming "friends" or "contacts" through social networks.

These sites are powerful tools for educators. They provide real-time communication, allowing immediate connection for collaborative brainstorming and idea sharing. People have professional developments, news, and resources at their fingertips.  But if not properly handled, social networking can cause serious  problems for you on your job and personally.


Your Profile: Your profile represents YOU. The Profiles you create on social networking sites display personal information about yourself, and messages people post for you, on your page. If you create a social networking profile, make sure all of the material posted on your page is information you would be comfortable sharing with almost anyone.

Friends: Your "friends" in the social networking world are individuals and organizations who you connect with electronically via your social networking site. Often your profile is used to make these connections. You control your list of "friends." Friend is often used as a verb in this context.

Tagging: When social networking users post photographs, videos, and other content onto their profiles, they can "tag" other individuals on their list of friends, to identify them or reference them in some way. Be aware of who tags you in photos and other content. Social networking users have the option to remove "tags" of themselves if they choose to do so.

Protect your privacy

Protecting the privacy of your information is an essential part of safe social networking. Most social networking sites have privacy settings to allow you to control who can see your profile. Make sure you are familiar with the privacy settings provided by the site that you're using. Often, privacy settings are used to limit profile access to the individuals on your list of "friends." Even if your information is "private," make sure everything you post is professional, appropriate, accurate and relevant.

Think before you post

Each time you post a photograph or other information on a social networking site, make sure you
would feel comfortable if the following people were to see it: your mother; your students; your superintendent;
or the editor of the New York Times.

Even though the First Amendment protects your speech as a private citizen on matters of public concern,
such speech may fall outside of First Amendment protection if it "impedes your employer's effectiveness
or efficiency, or otherwise disrupts the workplace."

Avoid posting anything on your profile page about your colleagues, administrators, or students, as well
as using inappropriate or profane messages or graphics, or anything that would reflect negatively on
your workplace. Be aware that social networking applications, quizzes, games, and other related features
also can result in content appearing on your profile page. Make sure that anything posted on your
page is appropriate.

Keep in mind that information posted to your profile page is often searchable. When interviewing for a
job, would you want your potential employers to know: Your relationship status? Your political views?
Your religion? Your sexual orientation? Whether you have children? Is there something on your profile
that is inconsistent with what is on your resume?

Picture perfect

Be sure not to post any photographs of yourself or others that could be considered unprofessional or
inappropriate, or link to any material that could be considered unprofessional or profane. If a friend
tags you in a photo or other content that could be considered unprofessional or profane, remove that
tag and ask your friend to remove the content.

Know your friends

When accepting "friend requests" or adding individuals to your friend list, keep in mind that these individuals
will have access to most information you post. Be sure not to accept a friend request from anyone
you do not know. Do not accept friend requests from your students or their parents. If a student or
parent of a student messages you through a social networking site, do not respond.

Stay informed

FEA strives to provide up-to-date information for WEA members to encourage safe use of social networking
sites and other electronic communication tools. Check back on our Web site, for our current advice and information.


Social networks are Web-based, online communities that allow individuals to come together to share personal information, photos and other common interests. Examples of social networks include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn.

As time goes by, FEA is finding students, parents and co-workers are all using social networks to keep in touch with family and friends. We do not discourage the use of social networks, but we do want to offer simple suggestions to protect you in your role as an educator.

You should:

    * Make sure only your friends can view your search listing and profile. Under "Settings," lock all options in "Privacy" to accept "Only Friends."
    * Remove yourself from Google search listings. Facebook profiles now show up in Google search listings, but you can opt out of search entirely to prevent your students from knowing you're on Facebook. In "Privacy," review the "Search Result Content" to limit the information people can see about you.
    * Be vigilant about what others post about you. "Untag" photos of yourself that you don't want students or parents to see.
    * Before posting something, ask yourself, "Would I want my (principal, students, parents) to see this?
    * Be careful about linking your Facebook with other social networking sites. If you update your status on a linked Twitter account, it will publish to Facebook where others might see it.
    * Monitor what is being published about you. If you're concerned that old friends or contacts could include you in online postings without your knowledge, try setting up a Google alert with your name, just to be safe. A Google alert will send you an e-mail anytime you are published. Visit: and enter your name to be searched, how often you want to receive the reports and your e-mail address.
    * Sort your friends by lists. If you're friends with your fellow educators and principals, you may want to add them to a school list with restricted viewing abilities. Once you've created your list, go to "Settings," and navigate to the Profile section. From there, you can select "Edit Custom Settings," which will open a field for "Except These People."
    * Use common sense when you're using social media.

Some Don'ts:

    * Don't accept friend requests from current or potential students or their family members.
    * Don't accept anyone whom you do not know personally as a friend. Just like e-mail, information and photos from sites like Facebook are not fully protected and can be obtained.
    * Don't join groups that may be considered unprofessional or inappropriate, and leave any such group of which you may already be a member.
    * Don't post vulgar or obscene language, materials, photos or links that may be considered inappropriate or unprofessional. If you wouldn't want to see it on the front page of the local newspaper, don't post it.
    * Don't post any negative information about your students, co-workers or school administrators.

For another page SN Media Tips:
While traditional media (newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio) still play an important role in covering stories and helping citizens make sense of the news, the advent of social media means we can all be reporters and commentators on the news that’s most important to us. Here are some ways you can help spread the good news about public education in Florida.

Connect with friends and fans on Facebook and “retweet” items of interest to your own Twitter network. Share items of interest from the FEA website with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. (You’ll see tools to do this beneath the headline of news and feature stories, as well as Frontline posts during the Legislature session.) We encourage you to send feedback. Please connect with us. We want to hear from you. We want too know what going on in your classroom and school community. You can also recommend stories and articles for the FEA website.


Write letters to the editor on current education issues. Post respectful online comments on relevant news stories, and call local talk radio shows to be sure listeners get pro-public education viewpoints, too.

Volunteer to speak to community groups about how strong schools are important to Florida's economy and our future, or contact the FEA to arrange a speaker for your group.

Most importantly, talk with your friends, family, work colleagues, and others to be sure they understand the importance of quality public schools for every  child. Ask them to reach out to their networks, too.

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