(From Oct. 9, 2013) Big Brother is alive and well in the Joplin R-8 School District... and our tax money is paying for it.
In a document, "Social Media Guidelines for Employers" issued by HR Department Director Tina Smith, the R-8 Administration let teachers and staff know that anything they do online will be monitored, adding that even private messages may not remain private.
Teachers have told me that after the release of these social media guidelines, one teacher organization warned its members to be extremely careful about anything they say that could be construed as a criticism of the administration.
The guidelines are printed below
Social Media Guidelines for Employees
Joplin Schools realizes that part of 21st century learning is adapting to the changing methods of
communication. The importance of faculty, staff, students, and parents engaging, collaborating, learning, and sharing in these digital environments is a part of 21st century learning. To this aim, Joplin Schools has developed the following guidelines to provide direction for employees,students, and the school district community when participating in online social media activities.
Whether or not an employee chooses to participate in a blog, wiki, online social network, application (“app”) development, or any other form of online publishing or discussion, it is his or her own decision.
Free speech protects educators who want to participate in social media, but the laws and courts have ruled that schools can discipline faculty and staff if their speech, including online postings, disrupts school operations. Joplin Schools social media guidelines encourage employees to participate in online social activities. However, it is important to create an atmosphere of trust and individual accountability, keeping in mind that information produced by Joplin Schools faculty, staff, and students is a reflection on the entire district and is subject to the district's Acceptable Use Policy. By accessing, creating, or contributing to any blogs, wikis, apps, or other social media for classroom or district use, you agree to abide by these guidelines.
Please read them carefully before creating or participating in any online content. Examples of social media include but are not limited to the following: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
How you represent yourself online is an extension of yourself. Do not misrepresent yourself by using someone else's identity or misrepresenting your identity. Be honest about who you are, where you work, and what you do.
● Joplin Schools employees are personally responsible for the content they publish online. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time—protect your privacy.
● Be aware that even with the strictest privacy settings what you ‘say’ online should be within the bounds of professional discretion. Comments expressed via social networking pages under the impression of a ‘private conversation’ may still end up being shared into a more public domain, even with privacy settings on maximum.
● Your online behavior should reflect the same standards of honesty, respect, and consideration that you use face-to-face.
● Comments related to the school should always meet the highest standards of professional discretion. When posting, even on the strictest settings, staff should act on the assumption that all postings are in the public domain.
● Remember that online posts and content are an extension of your classroom or the workplace. What is inappropriate in your classroom or the workplace should be deemed inappropriate online.
● When contributing online do not post confidential student information. ● If you want to have a professional presence online through social media, developing a profile on a site like LinkedIn or something similar might be a great practice.
● If you would like to communicate through social media to a group of students, developing a group or page would be the recommended practice.
Always A School Employee
The lines between “public and private” & “personal and professional” are blurred in the digital world. Even when you have a disclaimer or use a different user name, you will always be considered a district employee. Whether it is clearly communicated or not and even if it is not your intent, you will be identified as working for and sometimes representing the school in what you do and say online.
When writing personal posts, always write in the first person (I, me, we, us) and make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the district.
Use a Disclaimer
● Include a disclaimer on your social media site which says something like this: “The opinions and positions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect my school district’s positions, strategies, or opinions.”
● This standard disclaimer does not exempt employees from their responsibilities as explained in these guidelines. If asked by media to comment on a school-related issue, refer them to the Communication Specialist. When in doubt, contact the Community Development department for assistance. Classroom sites do not require a disclaimer.
Be Respectful and Responsible
Employees, parents, and students reflect a diverse set of customs, values, and points of view. Be respectful for the opinions of others in your posts or comments. You are responsible for the content you post. Consider the words used to tag content in a social bookmarking site. Consider the profile picture or image you select. Do your tags, descriptions, and your image portray you in a professional manner?
Own and Correct Mistakes
If you make a mistake, admit the mistake and correct it quickly. Clearly state if you’ve corrected a previous post. Even though damage may be done, it is best to admit your mistake and correct it.
Apologize if appropriate.
Online postings and conversations are not private. Do not share confidential information whether it is internal school discussions or specific information about students or other staff. What you post will be seen by others and will be online for a long time. It can be forwarded or shared in just a few clicks. Do not write about a colleague or student without their permission.
School Crisis Situations
During a school lockdown, secure mode, or crisis, employees should not be posting or asking for information online or through other forms of communication (texts, phone calls, etc.). During these situations, rumors can spread quickly and employees should be using this time to make sure that the safety of those in their charge/care is their top priority.
Do not use any school logo or image without permission and adhere to the district logo usage guidelines. Contact the Director of Community Development for permission on logo usage.
Posting Photos or Movies of Students And Staff
When posting photos or movies of fellow employees, it is always best to obtain permission from that employee.
Do not use photos or movies taken at school without permission. Do not post photos or movies that contain students if those students are on the district’s “opt-out” list for directory information.
No photos should be posted if it would violate FERPA or HIPPA or identify a student as a special needs student. This includes an employee’s school and personal online accounts, text messaging, or the physical posting of a photo in a employee’s classroom or home.
Using Content That Isn’t Your Own
Do not utilize protected works. Just because an image, song, movie, etc. comes up in a search online does not mean you can use it freely. Documents found online should be available under Creative Commons (see info below) or your own if you plan to reproduce them in any way. Also, make sure and give credit to the owner of the work when necessary.
A hyperlink to outside sources is recommended. Be sure not to plagiarize and give credit where it is due. When using a hyperlink, be sure that the content is appropriate and adheres to the Joplin Schools AUP.
Creative Commons is a way that allows you to use certain photos without getting written permission from the owner. Check out http://creativecommons.org/about for more information.
Responding to Negative Comments and Criticism
How you respond to negative comments or criticism will say more about you and your character than what you post. If you delete a negative post, it discourages open communications. When publicly criticized or receiving a negative comment, first, stay cool and don’t reply in haste.
Express your view in a clear, logical way. Don’t get personal, and, if you made a mistake, admit it, and move ahead. It is not uncommon for a negative response to be answered by some other person, who supports your view. When in doubt, it’s best to ignore a comment and not give it credibility by acknowledging it with a response publicly; perhaps a face-to-face meeting would be more appropriate.
Regular Postings On School Sites
All sites should be updated regularly throughout the school year. The purpose of social media is two-way communication and you cannot be a part of the discussion if you do not post regularly. Comments should be monitored and responded to multiple times a week.
Requests To Use Blocked Social Media Sites
Joplin Schools understands that 21st century learning is constantly changing and that many sites currently "blocked" by the District's content filter may have pedagogical significance for teacher and student use.
If you would like to request another online site be accessible to use for teaching and learning, contact the District’s technology’s department . Requested sites will be reviewed and, if approved, the district’s content filter will be updated accordingly.
A description should be provided of the intended use of the site and what tools on the site match your needed criteria.
Request To Start and Maintain A Social Media Account For A School Program/Activity/Sport
Joplin Schools understands that having a social media presence for a school program, activity, or sport can be a great method of communication and a promotional tool.
Before a program, activity, or sport can start a social media presence, the principal or director must approve the account the staff member wishes to create. Employees should fill out the Social Media Account Request Form and submit it to their supervisor for review and approval. The request form will then be forwarded to the Community Development Department and the Technology Department.
Any social media account that has been established prior to this procedure must still to be approved by the principal or director.
Any account not approved by the district but is deemed to represent or seem to represent the District in an official manner will result in the district pursuing the removal of the account.
Social Media for Instructional Use
Employees shall have access to social media tools at school through the district network for instructional uses. All social media activities will comply with district policies and administrative rules and regulations. Instructional uses are those that support student learning and communication about that learning to appropriate parties such as parents and other educators.
Instructional uses may include: use of a classroom 'fan' page for sharing class information, assignments or news; connecting with other classrooms or experts for collaboration; other uses that support learning goals and are approved by administration. It is recommended that students' first names only be used and identifiable information about the school be limited.
All staff members who utilize social media to support instruction will assume responsibility for proper use, including:
-Staff member will not violate conditions of existing board policies.
-Staff member will obtain approval prior to set up of any school/district related social media account and will follow the published procedures. · Staff member will actively monitor use by students, parents or others who interact with the tool.
· Staff member will bring concerns regarding misuse to the attention of their administrators immediately. · Staff member will limit their use of all social media tools to instructional uses during contract hours. This provision includes access to social media through personal devices used during work hours.
Violation of these guidelines and any corresponding Board Policy are cause for disciplinary action.
· I have received and understand the guidelines for responsible use of social media.
Acknowledgement of Understanding
_____________________________ Employee Name
_____________________________ _________________________ Employee