6 Most Outrageous Social Media Mistakes By Teachers
Poring over some recent examples of teachers' social media fails, AOL Jobs compiled the top six mistakes teachers made in social media this year. Don't imagine you're exempt. These are social media mistakes no worker should make. Unless, of course, you hate your job and are looking for a second career, say, in reality TV.
1. Think you're hot? Don't tweet it.Carly McKinney, a 23-year-old math teacher at Overland High School in Aurora, Colo., had a perfectly nice job. ... until her superiors got wind of racy tweets (tweeted from @Crunk_Bear). (Her tweets have been deleted, but you can see a retweet of hers above.) They included topless and other revealing self-portraits and messages like "stay sexy ... stay high ... stay drunk," to say nothing of referring to a student as "jail bait" or saying that she was high while grading papers.
McKinney claimed that the Twitter account was a parody that she set up with friends. Students rallied to her defense. School administrators were undoubtedly laughing uproariously when they first put her on paid administrative leave and then fired her.
2. Keep your side career off Facebook.Having active outside interests help teachers relax and stay in fine form. In the case of Olivia Sprauer, a part-time bikini model who taught English at Martin County High School in Florida, it was literally true. In early May, the principal called her into his office, showed some of her posing work on a computer screen, and asked if it was her. She said yes and he said bye.
Finding the evidence of her side career wasn't too difficult as Sprauer, under her modeling name of Victoria James, reportedly had them posted on Facebook.
The single mother of two says that she was already going to resign at the end of the school year, so the dismissal was only a month early. And she knew that getting fired for the photos was a possibility. She was right. By May 9, the gloves, or something else, was off as she offered topless and nude posters for sale on her Facebook account. At the end of May, she told The Huffington Post that she would donate a portion of the proceeds to the Red Cross' Oklahoma tornado relief efforts.
3. Don't post jokes about wishing your students would drown.Teaching grade school can be challenging. But calling your fifth-grade students "devils spawn" that you'd like to bring to the beach -- the day after a sixth grader in Harlem had drowned in the ocean on a school outing -- is somewhat impolitic.
That's what Christine Rubino did in 2010, posting the rant on Facebook and then trying to cover up when officials heard about the vent. She was fired, although last month she finally won a court battle to be reinstated. However, the two-year suspension without pay was upheld, meaning her financial life likely remains underwater.
4. Skip the creepy picture uploads revealing your (possibly illegal) fetishes.An unnamed substitute teacher at East Coweta High School in western Georgia posted on to Reddit, the online forum, sneak shots of students, probably underage. He also included lewd remarks when he posted the photos to the voyeur section of Reddit, which is called "CreepShots." By February 2013 the teacher reportedly was fired. Not a pretty picture.
5. Don't post photos of your students' mouths covered with duct tape.Melissa Cairns, a middle school math teacher at Buchtel Community Learning Center in Ohio, thought posting a picture to Facebook of 16 students with duct tape on their mouths and a caption of "Finally found a way to keep them quiet!!!" was funny, particularly as she claims that the students had put the tape on themselves as a joke.
She eventually realized that the post was a "huge mistake." Cairns wasn't kidding. Neither was the local board of education when it fired her. Of course, duct-taping a student's mouth is never a good career move -- even if you don't post it on social media. Just ask this substitute teacher in Louisiana, who was disciplined after allegedly putting duct tape across a kindergartener's mouth.
6. Don't advise students in a religious education class to sleep around.Just to show that not all online nuttiness by teachers is restricted to the U.S., a religious education teacher in England, Catherine Reynolds, allegedly told students to sleep around before marriage, swore in the classroom, and described some of her personal experiences concerning sex. And then, after a parents' night, she supposedly posted on Facebook, "That was the most f****** horrendous evening of my life." She reportedly wrote that the parents were "retarded." The 27-year-old reportedly was banned from classrooms for five years.
Unfortunately, given human behavior and the growing number of social networks waiting to be misused, chances are this list will soon have lots of additions.
Read the slideshow, "The Most Bizarre Teacher Scandals."
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Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman