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Three Things Teachers Should Never Do

posted: 9.28.10 by Traci Gardner

scream and shout by mdanys, on FlickrTeachers should definitely use social media tools like Twitter, Wikipedia, and social bookmarking in and out of the classroom. But sometimes, I read a post that makes me want to SCREAM.

Why? Because in that post the teacher sends the wrong message to students and colleagues.

If you want students and colleagues to respect you as an educator, please never do these three things:

  1. Grumble about grading.
    Posts like these undermine the teacher-student relationship: “Dreading having to grade these research papers” or “Still grading. Will this horrible pile of papers ever end?”

    Students who read that kind of message will know you have a bad attitude about their work before you even look at it. Worse, some colleagues and potential employers will wonder why you’ve taken up teaching if you hate grading so much.

    Updates and facts are fine: “One set of papers graded! One set to go!” Praise and encouragement is even better: “These documentary videos are amazing. Great work everyone!” Just don’t complain.

  2. Post students’ errors.
    No matter how tempting, don’t post the passages where students mention the “doggy dog world,” “carpool tunnel syndrome,” and “mute points.”

    Student errors can be funny. Close the office door and read them out loud to your office mate if you must, but don’t post them online. How demoralizing for students to find their words displayed on Twitter and Facebook as examples of an error—or worse, as the butt of some joke.

  3. Complain about students, even in jest.
    Maybe it relieved stress at the time, but Gloria Gadsden should never have posted “had a good day today, DIDN’T want to kill even one student :-). Now Friday was a different story.”

    Even if the complaint were a gentler “I hate these students. They don’t listen to anything I say,” it’s not appropriate. How can students possibly want to be in a teacher’s class after reading that?

    Teachers should be able to share their feelings in private places, but social networks aren’t private places. Even if you have limited the access to your comments, someone can copy what you’ve written and paste it elsewhere. So don’t put it out there in the first place.

The teachers who write these three kinds of posts are probably looking for support, sympathy, or maybe a little stress relief. What I see when I read them is public commentary about students and teaching that make me question the authors’ professionalism.

[Photo: Scream and Shout by mdanys, on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]

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Categories: Teaching with Technology
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