Teachers tread lightly on twitter

Teachers tread lightly on twitter

Savannah Whitmer, Lead Reporter

The era of instant sharing isn’t the private realm of students anymore as everyone, including teachers, can express themselves instantly using Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

“I always like to joke that I have a Twitter because that’s where I do my best work,” teacher Mike Motsney said. “I think it’s also kind of for kids, I think they have a lot to say. But I have to be careful, because I’m obviously a teacher. Sometimes I tweet kids back. But only when it’s appropriate, about school stuff usually.”

Just a few years ago, adults active in social media outlets beyond Facebook were hard to come by, but now it has become increasingly common for teachers to tweet, post on Instagram, or pin on Pinterest.

“I’ve had a Twitter for a while, but I usually don’t follow current students,” teacher Michele Riddle said. “If they’re former students, like juniors and seniors, if they tweet me, then I’ll tweet them back, I’ll follow them. It gets kind of weird because I have kids here. So a lot of these kids are like my own kids, and they’re at my house with my kids, and I just know them so well that they’re kind of a part of my family too. So a lot of the students that I follow are my kid’s friends.”

While some teachers use Twitter as an outlet for expression, much like their students do, others often tweet for educational purposes.

“I use it for keeping up with people,” teacher Jonathan Stinson said. “I like just kind of staying connected. I use it with my classes, for educational purposes, and I use it for entertainment. I update my students on assignments and due dates, just basic stuff like that. I use it for communicating with students.”

Surprisingly, teachers are not explicitly monitored on Twitter. In fact, social media is supported as a beneficial way for teachers to share.

“We encourage our teachers to utilize Twitter, and any other social media that can be used for educational gain,” assistant principal Bruce Coachman said. “For sharing information, whether it be articles, whether it be educationally beneficial information, we want them to use Twitter and Facebook to do those types of things.”

The opportunity to stay updated on news is also a factor in the increasing amount of teachers signing up.

“I have a Twitter just for fun,” Riddle said. “Just to see what everyone’s doing, what’s going on. Also for a lot of current events. You can get so much information right away on current events because people are talking about it. Like the football game last night, or school things, you can get a lot of current events that way too.”

While Twitter and other social networking sites can be fun ways to share, most teachers are careful not to misuse it.

“If you can see me, my bosses can see me,” Motsney said. “So if I say something stupid, then I’m putting myself in jeopardy of being punished at work, just like a kid could be punished for posting stuff of them drinking or doing stuff while on an athletic team. They’re going to have some consequences.”

Despite the encouragement for teachers to be active on social media, the result of inappropriate conduct can range anywhere from reprimand to the possibility of termination of contract.

“There would only be consequences for teachers that use them inappropriately,” Coachman said. “Or establish inappropriate relationships, or are saying or doing things that would basically violate their professional clause or contract. Which essentially is an ethical or moral, for our purposes, appropriate use of social media.”

Aware of the need to be cautious, teachers continue to share on Twitter alongside their students.

“It’s just short little bursts of whatever,” Motsney said. “But it’s not smart if you don’t have the right filter that you need to be able to do that. You can get in trouble, a teacher could put himself in an awkward position, so you have to be responsible and not be an idiot. It’s a good kind of journal, it’s a way to express yourself. It just comes down to having some common sense.”