I got sent to the Principal’s Office on the Last Day of School

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What you post can and did come back to haunt me!

On the last day of school, I was reprimanded for not exercising enough discretion between keeping my complaints personal and professional as a public school teacher.

I ranted about a parent-teacher conference on a Facebook post and got caught when “someone” printed it out and taped it to the subject’s door.

Although I didn’t mention any names, one of my current students commented. I thought I had placed all of my students on the RESTRICTED list so that they weren’t able to see certain posts and photos on my profile page. Big oops.

I had taken great care to keep what I post contemplative, encouraging, positive and maybe funny on the gripes – at least something to laugh about. Well, what I found humorous was taken offensive by the person in which I was addressing, even when that person is no where near a “Friend”.

The principal lectures me about professionalism and personal life and the fact that as a teacher I am a “role model”. I get it, even though we are human, we cannot “behave” that way. We aren’t allowed to rant about the work publicly, after all, I am not Rosie O’Donnell, no one cares about my opinions and I am nowhere at the level, where what I say will amount to much.

When he mentioned Rosie O’Donnell, it made me want to giggle, as I thought to myself: I’m sure Rosie would be defending herself via  Freedom of Speech.

He also did mention that who I think are “friends” apparently aren’t and loyalties lie elsewhere to “share” my status update with others. Point taken. Whatever is printed may be used against me. Sure, do I stop blogging? And speaking up for what I believe and sharing my thoughts on any topic? Do I just lay down and not say anything – nah.

The positives: I posted the status update on my own time from home. At least, I wasn’t tweeting, posting Facebook updates during school hours on “company time.” That would’ve been another set of reprimand.

There are a lot of educational policies about “friending students on Facebook” and the fine line between appropriateness. It is a major issue across the nation and different states have different policies on the educational level. In the state of Hawaii, nothing has been established yet, so I get a “verbal warning.”

On the one hand, as educators we are encouraged to build rapport, connect with students, nurture, but keep a professional distance. Social media blurs that message.

On another realm, we are also encouraged to keep up with the technology because we must reach the 21st century student with social media and the ever evolving changes in technological use.

There’s so much that we must do “inside the classroom” yet the Department of Education in the U.S. state we are a “global networking society” and falling behind the rest of the world.

I am confused with what I can and cannot do sometimes, what I should and should not do as an educator. We nurture because we may be the only caring adult in a student’s life. Movies like, “The Freedom Writers” and “Stand and Deliver” can be so full of crap sometimes that maybe I should settle to be more like “School of Rock” –  or change careers.

Cover of "Stand and Deliver"
Cover of Stand and Deliver

As a teacher, we still try and we are still very human.

In order to keep myself beyond reproach, I suppose I need to put up those walls and set those boundaries where my job remains a job. When once I was all out for teaching my students and nurturing them despite the pubic school system, for my own safety, I cannot get those lines blurred.

Fine. I’ve learned my lesson. And for my own sake, will keep at a safe, professional distance.

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