Wednesday, September 05, 2012

School districts start using Facebook "professionally", guiding teachers and parents

Greg Toppo has an interesting article in USA Today, “should parents ‘friend’ their child’s teacher?”, with link here

While some school districts have forbidden social network friending among teachers and students, some are now encouraging the use of classroom accounts that don’t require friending, and some are setting up professional school accounts. 

This is significant because Facebook doesn’t allow anyone (including a teacher) to have a “double life” online.  You’re a teacher under your real name and that’s it. 

In the past, however, many teachers have simply put up course materials on school websites, without the controversy that direct use of modern social media can evoke. 

When I wrote my first book (published 1997) and created my giant behemoth of political controversy online in the late 90s, you could lead a double life, particularly if you stayed out of “management” in the workplace and functioned as an “individual contributor”, compensated for technical expertise.  That’s not too easy now.

Toppo has another article in USA Today Wednesday about the large increase in percentage of new teachers, particularly in lower grades.  That’s partly because more teachers have retired, some have been forced out because of stricter performance standards and some lost out to budget cuts. 

Teaching did not enjoy a good reputation as a “career” during my working news.  The idea of “career switching”, especially for older workers nearing retirement age, started to get promoted around 2003 or so, in the environment created by “No Child Left Behind”, but it has been undermined by the economy and teacher layoffs following the strain on school districts partly due to recession and the financial crisis of 2008. 

The need for teachers seems to be greater with underprivileged, disadvantaged, or special needs students, or in lower grades in general.  Many professionals who would consider a career switch might have preferred to get into the AP area.  This, along with the complexity of licensure requirements, is an area in which outplacement firms should have developed expertise sooner than they did.  And they would also have to follow the whole issue of social networking and online reputation and how that can affect teachers – and the picture is changing quickly. 

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