What Not To Do: Talk Smack About Your Students on Facebook

This article is the property of http://fivethingsatonce.com/

We all knew that our kids would one day have to deal with Internet trolling, but we didn’t think it would be from their teacher. A scary story in New Jersey is unfolding, as an unnamed first-grade teacher was suspended last week following complaints that she had posted negative comments about her students on Facebook. Allegedly, she had  posted that she felt like a warden overseeing “future criminals.”  

The incident created quite a stir. According to reports, a significant number of parents had arrived at the school and demanded that their children be pulled from her class. School board president Theodore Best said that he had received text messages from members of the local clergy and the NAACP. The school board held an emergency executive session on Thursday to discuss the situation. Best stated to a local newspaper:

“The reason why she was suspended was because the incident created serious problems at the school…you can’t simply fire someone for what they have on a Facebook page; but if it spills over and affects the classroom then you can take action.”

I think Heather Armstrong would disagree with that statement. The now famous professional blogger was fired from her job for various remarks about her workplace that she had posted on her personal blog, dooce.com. Of course, those were full blog posts and not just a couple of Facebook status updates, and she wasn’t a teacher. Regardless, the precedent has already been set in this country that one can be fired for statements they post online, especially if those statements are about the workplace.

This article is the property of http://fivethingsatonce.com/

As a parent, this behavior is inexcusable. No one should have to deal with something like this from their child’s teacher. Saying an offhand remark over a drink at a party, or ranting about your job to a friend on the phone is one thing- but some statements simply should not be published online. It’s really all about common sense and decency. It makes me wonder what really happened. Was this simply an indiscretion prompted by job stress and too many glasses of wine one night, or does the teacher truly feel this way about her students? Either way, it’s bad form. As a parent, I would definitely demand that my child be removed from this classroom immediately.

We’ve all had stressful jobs, and at times we’ve all said things that we shouldn’t have. The difference here is that the teacher in question published her statements online, and that her statements were about children. Even more, this should call her competency into question. Even a cursory understanding of Facebook privacy settings shows that this was an extremely foolish move. If she had all the parents of her students on her friends list, and still made these statements openly, then maybe she should be fired.

What do you think? Is this just another workplace rant, or an offense worthy of termination?

Source: NorthJersey.com

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15 thoughts on “What Not To Do: Talk Smack About Your Students on Facebook

  1. I can kind of see both sides of this. A little. In today’s society, it seems that many children are being raised in a sort of free-for-all when it comes to their behavior and their parents want to make excuses for them instead of teaching them the correct way to behave. That, on top of larger classes and probably constant worry about job security in the teaching field has probably got to get to a person after a while. However, when you are a teacher, you should be in the job because you love it. Because you were meant to do it. Especially when it’s only a first grade class. The kids are what, 7 years old? I doubt they’re bringing weapons to school or selling drugs in the classroom. I do agree that it was stupid to post it on facebook. Vent to a friend or whatever, but be smart enough to realize that anything you post online is going to be seen and stick with you forever. If she’s dumb enough to post derogatory comments about her students to their parents then I would say I wouldn’t want her teaching my child anyway.

  2. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog!
    And as far as this post goes, I think the teacher made a very bad decision to post her feelings about her students on facebook–especially if she was “friends” with the parents of her students on facebook. As a parent, I would want a teacher to speak to me in private about behavior problems with my child, not post her feelings on facebook.

    1. That’s a great point. I wonder how many parents she attempted to contact about behavior problems in the classroom. Perhaps, in exasperation after receiving only apathy from the parents, she posted what she did. Of course, that’s only a hypothesis.

  3. I have a FBFriend who is a teacher. She complains on her wall about constantly running into a parent at Starbucks–one that has canceled her necessary conferences numerous times. She has remarked she hopes someone will tell this unnamed woman she’s complaining about her on Facebook. A little passive-agressive, I guess, but I can see how teaching with checked out parents can be frustrating.
    The teacher in this post? Kinda stupid, if you ask me.

  4. She should have had her status updates locked down. If someone narced on her private FB acct, then no, she shouldn’t be fired. If I had kids though i wouldn’t want her teaching them.

  5. Thanks for visiting my blog. I agree with you! Facebook can be a wonderful tool for connection – especially for those of us in the over fifty category!!! But it can be devastating for relationships – My grandmother always said “loose lips sink ships”. My mother always said, “Never write anything that can be used against you.”

  6. I’ve worked with preschoolers and was stunned by how awful some of them behaved because their parents felt they needed to “be free to express themselves.” That being said, there are some things you don’t post on Facebook.

  7. I feel she is free to say what she wants on her page. I feel the parents that cried and moaned are the ones with the problem kids maybe. If your kids are raised correctly and cause no trouble then you know it doesn’t apply to you…..

  8. My daughter isn’t in school yet so I don’t know how I’d feel about hearing those types of things. But I think to avoid this type of problem, her Facebook should be private meaning she shouldn’t be FB friends with any her students parents, no matter what as a conflict of interest. That way if she was just venting and posting such things it wouldn’t get read by the wrong people. I know people that have a personal account and a business account to keep their private life, PRIVATE.

  9. Thanks for visiting my blog! Now to weigh in:
    I am a preschool teacher. Let me begin by saying that there is stated, and should be maintained, a strict code of confidentiality in teaching children. It is no different than a therapist venting about patients on his facebook. It is a professional relationship where privacy is everything. No teacher should ever make public statements about specific students, or negative statements about their job. It is crossing a line. I do not ever do so, it is ethically wrong. As you can tell, I don’t think there is any excuse for that kind of facebook post. Ever.
    Yes kids are rough these days, you’d be surprised. In my time teaching (preschool) I have witnessed some highly difficult behaviors, and have had days where I have wanted to quit, walk out, or yell at the top of my lungs. I’ve been kicked, hit, bit, have seen weapons brought in to school, cursed at, etc. And this is in a rural program. I’ve even been sent to a hospital for some of the above mentioned. There are many children, and parents who “seem” bad. Teaching is a tough profession. If you can’t do it, or can’t do it anymore, get out now. It is not easy these days or any days. It is like many other things in that you should leave while the going is good and before you do something stupid. There are no excuses for this teacher. She should know better, and if it truly got that bad, she should’ve left before doing something so unethical. end of line. She shows a deplorable lack of self control.

    1. I forgot to add that although I have had rough days like that, I still love my job. I still want my job, and I would not give up teaching kids for the world. That is why I am adamant that those who do not love it anymore, leave. It is so easy to be discouraged with what teachers face. If there is no more genuine and sincere love for the job there, these kind of statements will happen. Good teachers teach kids, and change kids. They do not let the day to day difficulty of teaching corner them into something unethical. For every 10 rough moments there is one spectacular moment that outshine those 10.

    2. Well said. (a) I think you hit the nail on the head- what I couldn’t think of. It really is a confidentiality issue at heart. You wouldn’t want a therapist going online and publishing something like, “You should have seen my last guy today. Total future criminal.” That definitely crosses a line. Some professions cross into something where freedom of speech doesn’t apply. A lawyer can’t go on Facebook and say, “Wow, I know this guy I’m defending is soooo guilty.”

      (b) “It is like many other things in that you should leave while the going is good and before you do something stupid.” There will be a future post someday about my experiences as a teacher. Someday.

  10. And friends ask why I’m not on Facebook or let my 13-year old set up an account. Let me count the stories…Interesting post! Nope, wouldn’t want my child in that teacher’s class either.

  11. FB is the devil in some cases.
    This teacher was not thinking clearly. Some people dont.
    I wouldnt have posted that for the simple fact that people at work use FB too; their friends , enemies, family , associates, whatever, do too. And word of mouth is a mofo. SOMEBODY is gonna see it and ‘tell a friend’ tell it gets to the wrong ears , and then here we go.

    I have a FB page-doesnt everyone on the planet?- but I refrain from discussing my job and co-workers on it. Just to cover my arse. I can stand in my bathroom mirror and rant, cuss out who ever did it, etc. But not on FB….

    I understand she was in minority district (NAACP was involved). She did say the wrong thing…

    I hope she learned from this.

    dGb!

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