I learned a valuable lesson this week at work. A co-worker sent angry e-mails to many members of the staff. My principal spoke with her about her inappropriate behavior, but instead of acknowledging her mistake and apologizing, she became defensive and insubordinate to my principal. She was asked to leave the office for the day and was later laid off because this wasn’t the first time such behavior had been displayed.
People have a responsibility to behave in an appropriate manner at work-this is professionalism. The Harte article depicts how sending inappropriate e-mails in anger can undo years of professionalism. It takes years to build a reputation, yet it can take only moments to destroy it. Professionalism must include e-professionalism. According to Evans & Gerwitz (2008), “…e-professionalism involves behavior related to professional standards and ethics when using electronic communication” (Harte, 2011, p. 3). Sending inappropriate e-mails, such as my co-worker and Miss Christine in the Harte article can greatly influence public perception of the teaching profession. This affects everyone in the profession, so teachers need to pause and think about their actions before sending inappropriate messages in electronic form.
E-mails can go viral within seconds, and once they have been sent, they can’t be retracted (Carter, Foulger, & Ewbank, 2008). This is why educators need to make sure the e-mails they send are professional, error free and that they go to the intended recipients (Harte, 2011).
Educators also need to be vigilant when using other forms of electronic communication such as social networking sites. If Alberta teachers follow the recommendations from Gordon Thomas at the ATA, educators can comfortably participate in an online community of learning without worrying about violating their Professional Code of Ethics or risking damaging personal or company reputations (Thomas, 2009). It comes down to finding the right balance between the benefits of social networking and the disadvantages (Harte, 2011). Social networking encourages active learning leading to a more student-centered learning environment (Ferdig, 2007); however, when people engage in social networking, a loss of privacy and professionalism can occur (Teclehaimanot & Hickman, 2011).
I have learned this week that educators need to be extremely vigilant when using social networking and other forms of electronic communication. After watching the videos and reading the articles for this week, I realize I need to spend some time improving my virtual identify on Facebook and LinkedIn. Finding the time to do so is the challenge since maintaining a positive virtual reputation can be demanding, but it is important to do so.
Carter, H. L., Foulger, T.S., & Ewbank, A.D. (2008). Have you Googled your teacher lately? Teachers use of social networking sites. Phi Delta Kappan, 681-685.
Evans, T., & Gerwitz, A.E. (2008). E-Professionalism dos and don’ts. NALP Bulletin. Retrieved from http://www.tourolaw.edu/cso/docs/eprofessionalism.pdf
Ferdig, R. E. (2007). Editorial: Examining social software in teacher education. Journal of Technology & Teacher Education, 15(1), 5-10.
Harte, H. (2011). E-Professionalism for Early Care and Education Providers. Dimensions Of Early Childhood, 39(3), 3-10.
Teclehaimanot, B., & Hickman, T. (2011). Student-teacher interaction on facebook: what students find appropriate. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(3),19-30. Retrieved from: http:// ezpoxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=59742738&site=ehost-live
Thomas, Gordon. (2009, May 5). Teachers and Facebook, ATA News, 43(17). Retrieved from http://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20News/Volume%2043/Number17/Pages/QA.aspx.