And why I believe your social media accounts shouldn’t just be about teaching.
I moved to California to pursue an acting career. I actual had a modicum of success. Matter of fact, I found a company selling some of my old headshots online. I doubt that they have many buyers…maybe my parents. I did make $37.58 in residuals last year which was enough for one grad school textbook and a protein bar. Score! But acting wasn’t really for me; it didn’t sit well with my Christian value system, it stressed me out, and I’m not even sure I was very good at it, hence the movement into education (captive audience for daily shows playing 180 days a year). I’m married. I’m having a baby, first and only. I’ve worked as a fitness instructor, a fitness model, a freelance writer. I’ve given several seminars on technology in the classroom and have just applied for a doctorate program. I have the world’s cutest cat. I am a teacher but I am also a person and it’s important that my students are able to see this.
Kids need role models and even if they will never (ever) admit it, teachers fall into that category. We’re not in league with the likes of Miley, Taylor, Kim, or Jennifer but we are examples of adulthood and we have a responsibility to show our students what a well rounded, successful, grownup looks like which is why I believe your social media accounts shouldn’t be 100% teacher talk.
Social media has changed the playing field making teacher’s personal lives more accessible to students. So why do I strongly believe your social media accounts shouldn’t be all about teaching? Because hopefully, as a teacher, you are a well rounded individual and well rounded individuals lead complexed lives. It’s a huge responsibility when you think about it. You’ve been given the task to show students what it’s like to be a responsible adult. Here are some things I keep in mind as I post to my many social media accounts:
1. When interacting with students I always keep things public. Twitter & Instagram are fine, but I won’t friend students on Facebook. I want their parents & my admin to be able to see any out of school conversations I have with kids (sophomores, in my case).
2. No cursing. No slang. No misspelling of words because somewhere along the line it became cool to say “tho” and not “though”. I am an adult. I speak like an adult. I’m not trying to be a teenager.
3. Stay positive. It’s ok to be frustrated or to have a bad day. It’s even ok to post that, but I always try to have a positive underlying tone. Times are tough, today is bad, but tomorrow will be better.
4. Don’t post bikini photos. Trust me. Even if you’re at the beach. Even if you live at the beach. Even if you’re a fitness model…probably especially if you’re a fitness model. Don’t do it. What appears harmless to you because you know you’re goofy and awkward in real life and there is nothing sexy about you may not translate that way to parents or members of the community. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it. No need to flaunt it.
5. This one goes without saying but no drunk photos and no drug references…or even things that could be construed as drug references. That goes for friend’s photos as well. For me, it may be easier to avoid situations where it’s even an issue becuase I’m just not into partying. But I know plenty of people who are and it is possible to keep that stuff off the internet.
6. Stay away from online drama. That is what we tell our students, I try to practice what I preach. Yes, even if I’m “offended” by someone’s stance I tend to stay quiet. If it’s a personal friend, I’ll call or text them privately. If it’s someone I don’t know…I don’t know them and I probably don’t want to. Block, unfollow, but don’t engage.
7. If I offend someone I try to apologize quickly. It’s happened. I used the word “chunky” on Facebook once and was accused of being responsible for single handedly causing eating disorders across America (ironic since I’ve struggled from anorexia). I thought it was a total overreaction! But I apologized because right or wrong, I hurt someone’s feelings and I felt horrible. I was sorry my words had such a negative impact on someone’s life, not that I’d used the word chunky.
8. Remeber social media may be the only interaction some parents have with you even if you don’t know it. You are in the public eye and it’s an honor.