An open letter to the Ontario College of Teachers re: Social Media Fears

*Updated post and apology letter:
An open letter to the Ontario College of Teachers re: Social Media, Part 2
I request that you please go to my link above for clarification on this post. 
Thanks to Ontario teacher Lorna Costantini @lornacost for questioning the news article’s interpretation and for pointing me to the sources provided in the link above, and in the 6th comment below. 
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Ontario teachers advised not to tweet with students
By The Canadian Press, cbc.ca, Updated: April 12, 2011 6:44 AM

Social media may be the new frontier of communication but not between teachers and students.

The Ontario College of Teachers says teachers should avoid connecting with their students on Facebook or Twitter.

They are also told to avoid contacting them on LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube and MySpace.

The college issued an advisory to maintain professional boundaries, saying it’s vital to the public trust.

It also says some members have groomed a student for sexual purposes, using electronic messages to win their confidence.

Dear Ontario College of Teachers,

I’ve read the article above, and you have one thing worthy to note in your statement: “The college issued an advisory to maintain professional boundaries, saying it’s vital to the public trust.”

However, as a professional, I thought that was self-evident.

Beyond that your statement is nothing less than counterproductive!

You see, by removing educated professionals from the pool of participants who can actually ‘TEACH’ students about appropriate social media use, you invite students to be influenced, and bullied, and taken advantage of by less scrupulous people… including your members who are less than professional and likely to avoid your advisory anyway.

What’s vital to the public trust is that they trust teachers to be current and to teach students to communicate and relate to the current world they live in… or should we still be teaching students to use quill pens?

 

*Updated post and apology letter:
An open letter to the Ontario College of Teachers re: Social Media, Part 2

 

9 thoughts on “An open letter to the Ontario College of Teachers re: Social Media Fears

  1. David Wees

    I agree David. Without role models (other than celebrities who use social media almost exclusively for gaining attention), students will be adrift in social media spaces without guidance. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  2. Chris Betcher

    Oh dear. At some point in the future I want to return to Toronto, Canada, and work there. This is not an encouraging thing to look forward to. It’s a very backwards approach, which unfortunately, based on my previous experience teaching in Ontario 5 years ago, is not unexpected. The school boards there seem incredibly conservative and unwilling to adopt new technologies or new ideas. It’s sad, because the kids rae the losers in this approach.Social media is NOT going away. It will, whether the Ontario school system likes it or not, be a major part of people’s lives both in Canada and globally. To ignore it, and pretend it doesn’t exist, it to do the students an enormous disservice.I understand why there needs to be some boundaries between teacher and student, and I agree that it’s not very smart for teachers, using their own personal accounts, and students to be “friends” on services like Facebook, there are certainly many legitimate uses for social media in education. It seems like this announcement from the OCT misses the point about these other possibilities and is running scared because of a few edges cases that would have happened with or without the use of social technologies.

  3. Vicki Davis

    The problem is not what TEACHERS say to students – the problem is that there is no way to clearly cut off the friends and associates of a teacher from their students. So, if a teacher has someone who is their friend that has a mental problem and posts horrendous things on their wall before the teacher can defriend – the students have been exposed to it. It is a problem and was at our school when this happened. Teachers should be able to connect in ways that are safe – creating a facebook page, for example is a good way – or- create an account just for teaching and connecting w/ students that is separate from one’s personal life. There are ways – it just isn’t as easy as we wish it could be.

  4. David Truss

    I agree David! We need to be positive role models in the digital world. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said what you say here, Chris, “Social media is NOT going away.”Vicki, your post on Facebook is excellent! http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2011/03/facebook-friending-101-for-schools…I’ve shared my views too:http://pairadimes.davidtruss.com/facing-facebook/and http://pairadimes.davidtruss.com/facebook-revisited/(…and the comments have made me think about ‘revisiting’ again.)I don’t really engage on facebook, so my default setting for students is very limited and I don’t even let them see my wall. Your idea of creating a separate facebook page is good for teachers that want to engage more than I do. If I did that, then I would want to be connected to other teachers and even parents of students there as well. All this is working towards a solution that meets the challenges social media presents. When I read this: “The Ontario College of Teachers says teachers should avoid connecting with their students on Facebook or Twitter.They are also told to avoid contacting them on LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube and MySpace.” …I shudder. “Social media is NOT going away.” We can’t hide from it… pretend it’s not there. Imagine telling a teacher to please ignore students when they see them in the local mall… what message does that send? What message does ignoring students’ online identities send?

  5. David

    I’ve taught in Ontario many years. Got to say this doesn’t surprise me on iota. It is a top down approach to decision making which is based on fear and walls and finger wagging. Very counterproductive.As I walk around the streets of North Bay, I see so many youth who lack mentors and teachers who can “make a difference”. This is just one more nail in that coffin. I run one of the largest communities for professional development of teachers online. There are also many students. Behavior is dictated by the environment – its tone and example. Not by legislation and fear. We have no problems because we don’t take a restrictive policing approach but an educative approach. Think about that – there is a big difference between the two. You can’t absolutely control the behavior of youth in these sweeping ways. How you do it is through building communication and community. Something the college has to work on. (and also like cleaning up the end section of their otherwise fine magazine, Prof. Speaking. Not appropriate to have a college that posts up and shames people/teachers. No matter their horrid behavior.). The place needs a better leadership. But I’m not hopeful, just like I’m not hopeful about our election and getting out a government that operates with the same kind of sledgehammer to kill a fly approach. David Deubelbeiss

  6. Lorna Costantini

    Hi David I want to share information about the advisoryI may have missed something in the press but I read the advisory http://www.d16.osstf.ca/adx/aspx/adxGetMedia.aspx?DocID=1194,48,5,Documents&MediaID=8866bb2c-206d-47d6-a9f9-89c2b77e112b&Filename=OCT_Prof_Adv_Soc_Media.pdfand watched this youtube videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iMLjqIptBcI interpreted it as teachers should be professional and use the tools wisely and appropriately not abstinence.What do you think?

  7. David Truss

    Well, let me be the first to say, “I was wrong!”Thank you to Lorna for pointing me to the actual sources of information above. As I have already done by updating the post above, let me again point to my updated post (and apology): An open letter to the Ontario College of Teachers re: Social Media, Part 2Please go there to see that, in actual fact, the OCT advisory is a document worthy of paying attention to!

  8. Ann Feather

    Is this a good rule or just one made up to make the Ontario College of Teachers appear to be operating in the public interest. So a handful of teachers use Facebook to hook up with kids and do terrible things…. then it is a good directive. BUT we have a problem in Ontario. The Ontario College of Teachers allow sex offenders to teach in Ontario in spite of what happens to children, and adult victims who are forced to endear while walking into a classroom and Mr. So and So or Mrs. So and So who destroyed their sisters innocence or brothers innocence is now in charge of their classroom. The current Liberal Government is fully aware of this predicament and would prefer to do nothing while children are forced to be in the same room as repeat sex offenders. Does this sound outrageous. It should be. Here is the record that the Premier is fully aware and has done nothing to protect victims of grotesque sexual abuse. It is public knowledge but the not see liberal government keeps pretending they don’t see what they have allowed to happen. Here is the public record…..Mark Baggio, Convicted Sex Offender is entitled to being a teache. Thank you College of Teachers. http://www.windsorstar.com/news/Baggio+teaching+licence+suspended/4854711/sto…Paul Fortin, OCT,Teacher allowed to re-enter teaching after ???????? with childhttp://professionallyspeaking.oct.ca/march_2011/go/dispute_resolution.aspxhttp://www.oct.ca/PublicRegister/memberDetails.aspx?memberID=530290Let him out of jail to Teach.http://www.oct.ca/investigations_hearings/decision_summaries/sept_03/sept_abd…Female Sex Offender allowed to Teach. http://www.oct.ca/investigations_hearings/decision_summaries/dec_05/dec05_web…This is clearly top dow management. Clearly the victims of abuse by teachers is not the priority of this organization.

  9. David Truss

    Hi Ann,I’m about to respond to your other comment on the post I link to at the top of this (crossed-out) post. Sorry that I didn’t respond earlier, but as I’m about to mention, I’m not sure how to add value to what you’ve added here. However I do think you deserve a response after taking the time to post here and also on the other link almost a month ago.Cheers,Davehttp://daily-ink.davidtruss.com/an-open-letter-to-the-ontario-college-of-teac-0

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