Thursday, April 1, 2010

This is My Choice

I received this via email this morning. It has been edited to remove identifiers.

Last evening at a high school, I attended an internet safety/cyberbullying workshop led by a member of the regional DA's Office. The most immediate issue I wish to share is about Facebook and other social network sites. The workshop leader informed me that school personnel are being fired and losing licenses for not reporting (as mandated reporters) any information they see on Facebook about minors. Personnel are also being fired and losing licenses for associations with minors who may be indicted for internet criminal activity. I personally panicked, went home and chose to use Facebook ONLY for family and old high school/college friends. I defriended everyone else (sorry that means many of you as well). I want you to have this information so you can make your choices.

Here is my choice:

I choose not to live my life based on fear and I refuse to allow the threat of spurious litigation to intimidate me into hiding behind some misguided political definition of professional decorum. My teaching is first and foremost about relationships, so I choose to be open and transparent about my work and my interaction with students. I choose to take the opportunity presented by Facebook and other online tools to model responsible and respectful behavior, and use them for what they are -- tools for communication, and for building and cultivating quality relationships. I am a conscientious individual, and I take precautions to keep myself and those in my world safe from harm. I keep transcripts of all the online communications I have between students. I make sure parents are aware -- and approve -- of the fact that their children communicate with me. I don’t have a problem saying that something is inappropriate, or talking openly about how something might be construed. I do not tolerate bullying in my world in any form. If I see it going on, I *will* say something. If I see someone being threatened, I *will* come to their defense. This is as true online as it is in real life, for there is no difference between the two, and it is one of the foundations upon which my teaching practice is built.

If you are afraid to be open about who you are to your students, if you live a life outside of the classroom that you don’t feel you can appropriately share with them, and you don’t feel like you can be a part of your students’ lives in any other way than in a classroom, then you should absolutely avoid them in cyberspace. You should also avoid them in the mall or on the street or on the phone, for all these carry the same risks. I choose not to do this, but to wave enthusiastically and smile and take their hugs when they offer them and ask them how they are and really listen to the answer.

I choose not to be afraid. I choose to treat my students as important members of my personal, as well as my professional, world. I honor their work as adults-in-the-making and I respect their ways of communicating. I choose to work with them to teach them how to be responsible, respectful, thoughtful members of the online world, and to take care of each other as vigilantly as I would take care of them.

This is my choice. What would yours be?

1 comment:

the passionate hairdresser said...

Exactly the same as yours...