Just as we would expect students and others to respect our boundaries within the classroom or workplace, they need to honor the boundaries you establish online when using social media. So when you are ready to jump in to the wonderful world of Facebook and Twitter, consider putting in place these online boundaries:
- Establish turn-around times for responding to online messages. If you share your email with parents and students, give them an expectation of when you will respond to them.
- Just as you would in your classroom, inappropriate language or use of inappropriate materials needs to be addressed immediately. Students often suffer from relaxed standards of etiquette when they communicate online – they attempt to blur the lines between what is appropriate and what is not appropriate when communicating with others. Set expectations early, and enforce them consistently.
- We recommend limiting what personal information you disclose to students through your professional profile. This casual environment of online social media may encourage a casualness of relationship that extends into the classroom, where it may not be appropriate. Expect respect online just as you would in the classroom.
- Setting online office hours is also a good rule to follow. This ensures students have appropriate expectations of your availability and respect your time.
And again, as a general rule, keep in mind that the manner in which you interact with students must reflect your role as a teacher. So try to avoid any questionable or inappropriate situations that will put you or your students at risk. We recommend that your conduct online should mirror your conduct at school as much as possible.