Teachers - If you can't post something nice, then don't post anything at all.

On my way back from Austin today I was listening to the radio and heard yet another story about a teacher suspended for comments made online. This particular teacher posted insulting comments about parents she has dealt with on her Facebook account. This incident is on the heels of another teacher who was placed on leave for comments she made on her blog. She had posted things she would say to parents about their kids if she had the chance. Trust me, they were not nice.

Both these teachers, and others before them, have cited "Freedom of Speech" laws and have claimed their school districts should have no say in what they post on their private social networking accounts.

But they're missing a huge point here - social network accounts are not private. While one can add some privacy settings to their accounts, the fact is they are posting this information on the most easily assessable network in the world! When you post something online, anyone - colleagues, students, parents, administrators, newspapers - can read what you publish regardless of who you intended it for. Anyone in a professional capacity needs to take great care in deciding what to say in such a public venue, especially educators.

Like it or not, we are held to a very high standard. And if you ask me, we should be. Parents entrust their most cherished possession to our care. We need to show we do care.

Now, don't get me wrong. I've had tough days. I've dealt with misguided students and I've struggled with difficult parents. It's part of the job. But, it's a wonderful job. We should expect those tough days and deal with them in stride. If students are misguided, we need to guide them. If parents are difficult, we need to prove to them we're in this together.

So, think before you post. I guarantee, someone out there is listening.

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