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Professionalism: The skill, competence, or characteristic expected of a member of a highly trained professional. (Encarta On-Line Dictionary)

 

“Every public figure—athlete, pundit, actor—now has two audiences: the one he or she is addressing and the one that will eventually read the blogs or see the viral video.”

            Source: “Who Can Say What?” James Poniewozik, Time, April 23, 2007.

 

Educators are educational professionals 24/7

 

Written Communications: proofread, proofread…ask someone else to proofread. Examples: parent letters, newsletters, website, any written communication to others.

 

Confidentiality

Things to keep in mind:

1.      Confidential communications pertain to both written and oral communications

2.      Information from educational records can be repeated to colleagues in the school who have a legitimate interest (purposeful educational involvement with the student with direct responsibility for instructional or other supportive services) in the information.

3.      Use discretion when speaking outside of school.

a)      Keep confidential information that might end up in an educational record. Example: Do not talk about your observations regarding a student’s performance in school.  If you say these things, the school could have problems defending an alleged FERPA violation.

b)      Do not make disparaging or unflattering remarks about a student.

c)      If you tell a “war story,” do not tell the name or otherwise give enough information to identify the student.

d)      Be judicious when making comments in the community—you are a representative of your school.

 

EVERYTHING YOU SEE, HEAR, AND DO WHILE WORKING IN THE SHOOL, AS IT PERTAINS TO STUDENTS AND STAFF, IS CONFIDENTIAL.

 

Internet Use

At school:

  1. Follow your district’s internet policy!
  2. Have NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY!!!
  3. Districts may at any time monitor persons’ usage and that seizure of material may be made as a result of random searches and not necessarily as a result of reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
  4. Information that the educator would not wish to be made public should not be placed on the district system.
  5. New! School districts must retain electronically stored materials, including emails, for the period of time consistent with all relevant State and/or Federal laws pertaining to the maintenance of such public records in general and school records in particular.

 

 

Other:

  1. Check recipient addresses BEFORE sending emails!
  2. WAIT before responding to aggravating emails from others. Remove “attitude” tone before sending.

 

At home:

Still…have NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY!

 

Blogging and Other Forms of Internet Communication:

Blogging 101

Prepared by the PSEA Legal Division

January 2007

 

As a school employee, you must exercise extreme caution when you engage in blogging or other forms of internet communication. Keep in mind that your First Amendment rights can be limited by virtue of your position as a school employee.

 

If you blog or maintain a web page, you should adhere to the following tips:

  1. Minimize the risk associated with internet communication by limiting access to your blog or web page using a “friends only” or similar restrictive setting.
  2. If visitors can post to your blog or web page, monitor postings constantly and remove any that are inappropriate.
  3. Do not blog or post about your job duties, colleagues, supervisors or students. This will reduce the danger that you might disclose confidential information, share information about a private workplace complaint, or otherwise carelessly or unintentionally engage in speech which could affect your future employment.
  4. If you choose to blog or post as a citizen about a non-job related matter of public concern (i.e., the elections, terrorism or environmental issues), take care that what you say will not impede you employer’s effectiveness or efficiency or otherwise disrupt the workplace.
  5. If you are blogging or posting about innocuous information (i.e., your favorite football team or family genealogy), you still must be careful not to engage in comments that could adversely affect your employer (i.e., damage the employer’s reputation) or interfere with your ability to carry out your job duties.
  6. Do not blog or post about personal subjects (i.e., dating, romance, or drug or alcohol use). Your blog or web page should not contain any references to sexual subjects, or contain vulgar or profane language or graphics. If your blog or web page was a movie, it should be rated “G.”
  7. Blogging and posting anonymously does not protect you. Names of bloggers, web page authors and other internet users can be discovered through litigation.
  8. Check to see if your employer has any policies regarding blogging or web pages. If so, you should review the policy with your PSEA UniServ.

 

You should be aware that if you blog or maintain a web page, you must use prudence and be extremely careful in your comments. You must give the necessary time and attention to the content of your blog or web page to make sure that it satisfies the general principles above.


  
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