Commentary: Teacher Fired Over Facebook Post!
Source: ABC News
An Akron elementary school teacher, Melissa Cairns, was fired after she posted a photo on Facebook of her kids being silly.
It was a normal day in the classroom. One of the kids needed to repair his binder with duct tape, but then thought it would be funny to stick a piece of the tape over his mouth. Other kids joined in, laughing about it. Cairns then took a photo of her kids with the duct tape on their mouths and posted a caption saying, “Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!” She was subsequently fired.
What’s interesting about this case is that the only faulty step the teacher made was posting the picture on her “private” social media network. I don’t find her caption to be off-color or distasteful nor do I believe that the kids were in any danger. They were simply having fun in class! And I really believe Cairns when she says the moment was a break-through moment in the classroom. It’s moments like those where the walls come down and the ice is broken that kids really come alive to learning. 10 years ago, before the dawn of social media and the internet, this would never have been a big deal.
So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that when you post something online, it can be taken out of context and used in any way, shape or form that the reader understands it. From a parents’ perspective, they might feel like their kid was being coerced or endangered if they simply saw the photo. An administrator with no sense of humor, may think that the teacher is actually duct taping her students’ mouths shut when they talk too much.
You never know who is going to pick up this post and come to wild conclusions. Make sure your staff and educators are aware that whenever they post something online, it can be seen by ANYONE. Not just your private group of friends, but your employer, college, future career opportunity etc. And you need to think through whether or not it could jeopardize your character or job to post that status. It’s a sad ending for Melissa Cairns. Let’s learn from this and make sure it doesn’t happen in our schools.
Join our free, webinar on June 27th to learn more about posting on Facebook and Twitter and educating your staff so they don’t create a liability for your District or themselves. Commentary by Matt Tibbetts