The Stir recently posted an article that told the story of a 24-year-old English teacher, Ashley Payne, who was fired for posting a photo on Facebook that showed the young woman enjoying some drinks while on vacation. According to the article, Ms. Payne’s profile was set to private but the photos were “leaked” and ended up landing in the hands of a parent who went on to file a complaint.
“Teachers have some of the most constant contact with our teens on a day-to-day basis. They have a real opportunity to impact our teens positively, especially at an age when kids are moving farther from mom and dad and are more willing to take another adult’s viewpoint. But what makes them so good with our kids is the breadth of experience they bring to the job. They’re not automatons but human beings, who have real lives outside the walls of a high school.”
Though most of the people who left comments on this blog seem to be on the teacher’s side—as I am, considering the fact that she hasn’t done anything illegal—I think there’s something bigger to be said about the fact that kids and teachers are on the same social network.
If you’re thinking that Ms. Payne and every other teacher that uses Facebook should be careful
about what they post online, you’re absolutely right. After all, if they’ve made the decision to participate in a social site where children are present, they need to take into consideration that kids might be able to see their posts.
While it’s absolutely not the responsibility of a teacher to “parent” their students, (my husband is a teacher and coach and he does a lot of “parenting” so I understand not all children have the support they should have at home), they are very important role models in our children’s lives. As such, teachers should think before they post. And as we teach our members at Yoursphere: What you post, you own.
Nevertheless, Ms. Payne is an adult and obviously old enough to drink. So do you really think her photo is the problem here? I don’t.
For starters, Ms. Payne did the right thing by making her account private—sure, it was “leaked”, but that’s just an unfortunate incident in this case. But more importantly, she works at a high school where the students are old enough to join Facebook—remember, a social network created for adults—and therefore, those students should be “mature” enough to understand that Ms. Payne has a life outside of school, and if she wants to post snippets of that life on Facebook, she has every right to do so. This is something that the student should understand, as well as their parent.
Parents, I’ll say it again: Facebook is a social network that was created by adults, and for adults. If you’re a parent that doesn’t let your sub-13 child have a Facebook account, and you know they don’t (because you stay on top of their online life), then this type of incident shouldn’t even faze you. But sadly, most parents don’t stay on top of their child’s online life not because they don’t want to, but more typically because they feel overwhelmed by the prospect of, and lack the education and tools to know how to. Instead more and more children under 13 continue to join Facebook every day, and as a result, they’re being exposed to things that they normally wouldn’t be.
What are your thoughts?
If you’re a teacher that’s looking for a safe alternative for your students—somewhere where you can have an online classroom, control what goes on, and not have to worry about unwanted interaction, check out Yoursphere’s solution.