Social Media and the Teaching Council

It seems that the Teaching Council met recently to discuss social media usage amongst teachers and they came up with this nugget in their “Draft Code for Professional Conduct for Teachers”

3.3.7  ensure that any communication with pupils/students, colleagues, parents, school management and others is appropriate, including communication via electronic media, such as e-mail, texting and social networking sites
Whilst this is generally sound advice, there are a couple of words in this statement that I have underlined that worry me. As well as this, I’m worried that because Irish teachers don’t really have “working hours” in that we are considered teachers outside of our working hours, this could open up a whole variety of abuse in the wrong hands.
Presuming that this statement is to be enacted 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, looking at the underlined words, there is huge cause for concern for any teacher using an electronic device for communication.
Who are these “others” referring to? What is and isn’t “appropriate?” What other electronic devices does “such as” also refer to? It is entirely plausible that a teacher who writes anything on an electronic device could be sanctioned. While 99.9% of the time, common sense will prevail, it is important to look at the abuse that this could cause in less healthy organisations.
For example, I know of a teacher on Twitter who has a strong interest in politics and has passionate debates about current affairs. Some of his comments can be close to the bone but they are his own personal opinion, which I respect. However, should his Board of Management decide that his comments on Twitter, (which are often nothing to do with education), are inappropriate to others, does he have a leg to stand on? By the definition of 3.3.7, the answer is “no.”
Before this code is nailed into the law books, much work needs to be put into the wording of this section.

Last Update: August 9, 2017  

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