Let’s say a district decided to block Facebook for teachers when it had been open in previous years. And let’s say that the district discouraged any administrator from even having a Facebook account…period!
If this were the case…I have a few thoughts and questions.
1. Why the decision to block it now? Too many people wasting district time being on Facebook during school hours? Then I suggest you block Twitter, YouTube, Google, and ESPN for that matter. While you’re at it, lock the faculty room, do away with coffee and the newspaper too. Be sure to ban talking to your colleague across the hall about your weekend, upcoming plans, or how the kids are doing. Facebook is no more a distraction from the workday than any of these others.
2. There is constant talk regarding how we should educate students on digital citizenship, their digital footprint, and responsible usage of the Internet and social networking. So why do we choose not to educate the adults who are supposed to teach these ideals to students? Instead of educating the teachers, we just block the site! All that does is force them to figure out a way around the filter such as mobile devices and 3rd party applications. Why not show them some examples of positive and negative interactions and what benefits or consequences may result. We should practice what we preach.
3. If there are individuals abusing privileges or not following responsible use policies, then address the individual! This is something I’ve watched occur most of my professional career at every level. Why do we punish an entire staff for the actions of a few? I would never give my entire class detention because 2 kids were in the back goofing off.
4. If this hypothetical district’s concern is inappropriate or negative postings about the school or district as a whole, then why would they discourage administrative presence on Facebook? I’m inclined to believe that if there was an administrative presence out there on Facebook, then teachers may be less likely to post anything negative because they know their administrator/s are “out there”. This online existence by administration presents a real possibility they may see what teachers are posting. I think that may be called transparency. And if there is a recurring issue, I have to refer you back to #3.
5. Finally, I believe the only message this sends is that we trust you with kids but not the Internet.
That is all…for now. Please feel free to tell me if I’m off base or offer another perspective. Thanks for stopping by!