In a response to my blog entry sharing the announcement about Texas Texting Ethics Code modifications suggested for teachers, Adrianne Stone writes the following:
I do worry that it will be interpreted that way. My district recently instituted a “do not respond to students after 9pm” rule – twitter, facebook, text, or email. Honestly I have kids who don’t get to their hw until 9pm so what are they supposed to do if they have questions? I’m not having conversations with them for the love of pete I’m responding to questions about their homework. But in favor of preserving my job I have communicated to my students that I am unable to respond after 9pm due to district policy.
As far as I am concerned I feel like the actual wording of the rules are fairly common sense and it’s almost like… does that really need to be codified? But apparently some individuals are necessitating it by inappropriate behavior (kind of like how McD’s has “Contents of this cup may be extremely HOT” on coffee cups lol)
How do you feel about it Miguel?
When I consider how to respond to Adrianne’s question, I have to break it up into parts:
- Should teachers be in contact with their students after 9:00 PM?
- Are new restrictions put in place to protect children from molesters failing those children by silencing their teachers?
- Who decides what is socially acceptable in the use of social networking in schools? Students? Community? Teachers? School Districts?
- Should we codify common sense or cultural norms?
Learning is unbounded, while teaching is bounded. This is an opportunity to better understand and develop boundaries.
My answer to question #1 is that teachers should respect the guidelines set by the District for contact with students. While children may be texting their friends, family at all hours of the night, there are boundaries that must be set with strangers. And, in the final analysis, teachers ARE strangers when not within the confines of a “professional” school setting.
In response to the second question, Are new restrictions put in place to protect children from molesters failing those children by silencing their teachers?, I have to say that the answer is “It depends.” While it would be nice to have a hard and fast rule to refer to, the truth is that there are bad people who have fooled everyone and work in education. We must agree to set aside some liberties for the good of all.
My response to the last two questions (because this blog entry is getting long) is a simple YES. Smaller communities can be nimbler and craft rules that better represent the stakeholders (Students? Community? Teachers? School Districts?). These rules have to be discussed time and again so that everyone is clear on what is happening, and why.
In larger communities, these conversations are more difficult to have…there are just too many people to hope for consensus. Someone has to set the rules, and those who disobey them do so at their own risk…not unlike going swimming without a lifeguard. These are the rules…disobey them and you may end up suspended, expelled or fired. However, by codifying the rules we agree with, making sure that everyone knows exactly what those rules are, we can minimize misunderstandings.
If a school district administrator chooses to ban all social media use, then there are ways to change the policies and procedures. Teachers just don’t have a lot of power to accomplish this…the real power is in the school board, the community that elects them. If I were a non-traditional educator, I would want to think twice about going to a district that is ultra-traditional and intolerant. As an employee, I have a choice of where I go and who I serve.
Maybe everything I’ve said in this blog entry is wrong. I don’t know for sure because I’m only one voice. To get at the heart of this, it is a conversation that MUST happen in the midst of the stakeholders.
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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure