Good teachers making bad decisions — online.
We are facing a crisis where people from all walks of life are in jeopardy of losing their jobs, risking college acceptances/scholarships and even relationships due to careless online posts, reckless tweets or even misconstrued text messages.
Educators are probably one of the most vulnerable. Why? Because we are constantly being scrutinized not only by our audience (students) but by their parents and the community. We are held to a higher standard, especially when it comes to reputation-damaging online behavior.
Consider these examples:
• Teacher “H” tweeted she felt like “stabbing” her students–was this appropriate to put on social media?
• A Boston teacher posted a photo from her classroom about the pilgrims without realizing the raciest ramifications — when should we post images from the classroom?
• One teacher’s aide that was even named Educator of the Month enjoyed posting her passion for fashion on her Instagram – only to be shamed by parents in a Twitter smear campaign. She soon found she was crossing her school’s social media guidelines.
• A teacher’s aide was fired for her racist Facebook post calling the First Lady Obama a “gorilla.”
• A college professor found that students aren’t the only ones who can be embarrassed by sending a sext.
• A Florida teacher was removed from the classroom because of her white nationalist podcast. She actually bragged about teaching her views in public school.
You are your students’ role model, not only in a classroom, but online too.
5 Ways to be grown-up online
1. Pause before you post. Think twice – post once.
2. Never air your workplace woes.
3. Never assume you’re among friends.
4. Write as if the world is watching.
5. Be constructive, not combative with conversations.
Your online behavior is an extension of your online reputation.
Are you a victim of online shaming?
According to a 2017 Civility in America Survey, 84% of Americans have experienced incivility, 69% blame social media for the rise in cruelty. PEW Research reveals that 67% of young people have experienced some form of cyber-abuse, 41% of adults have been victims of online harassment.
• Ways to handle a troll
• Documenting evidence
• Reporting offenders
• Cleaning up your online reputation
The Troll In Us
According to a Stanford Study in 2017, anyone is capable of being a troll. What people are unaware of is the woman that attacked me all those years ago – was a mother (parent), a wife and had a good job at a bank. She wasn’t your typical definition of a “troll” as morally bankrupt or having nothing better to do but hurt people.
In this study, when people are under stressful circumstances, maybe wake up on the wrong side of the bed – or simply having a bad day, they have the ability of leaving less than colorful comments. Especially if you’re an educator — your online behavior, if you act inappropriately, is sending the wrong message to your students, peers and community.
Cyberbullying is no longer a child’s only playground. Grown-ups are using their keypads to insult each other to shame schools to blame parents and start smear campaigns rather than have adult conversations.
As an educational consultant, I nearly lost my career when a parent went on a smear campaign to ruin me. This was in 2003, by 2006 I was both emotionally and financially crippled from the digital “Scarlet Letter” that landscaped nearly three pages of Google. After winning the landmark case for Internet defamation, the courts cleared my name, but the Internet never forgets. This is a lesson I learned firsthand and have taught audiences for years.
That same year, the first online reputation management company opened (ReputationDefender), I was one of their first clients. My years of online reputation wisdom and understanding of the importance of responsible digital citizenship separates me from others. I endured and survived what many only talk about.
Digital wisdom empowers you to be an upstanding role-model.