I completed my MEd in Media and Technology Studies Education at the University of British Columbia in July 2019.
Teachers today face regulation and restrictions in their use of social media. Some regulations and restrictions are self-imposed, as they seek to keep a clear boundary between their professional and private lives, while others come from provincial guidelines and school district policies regulating the use of social media. Quite often, these guidelines and policies are unclear and leave it up to teachers’ “best judgement” as to how to navigate this challenging area. In the absence of overarching policies, teachers are then open to the possibility of facing disciplinary action for using social media in a way that they may have considered acceptable while an authority deems the content or expression “inappropriate.” Kimmons (2016) highlights this by observing, “within the current technology ecosystem, the opportunity for teachers to lead a personal life separate from their professional life has almost disappeared” and that the standards to which teachers are held “might mean different things to different people.” This gives rise to self-regulation as teachers grow to understand the challenges around balancing their rights of thought, belief, opinion, and expression with their duty of care to their students and to the profession. This chilling effect is highlighted by Papandrea who notes that “any secondary teacher who places information into a social media site takes a chance that an unintended audience might see it” and, to avoid this, teachers may avoid using social media entirely or “engage in significant self-censorship to post only the most benign content” (p. 1607).
It is within this context that I examine the area around teacher professionalism and social media, looking at what misuse of social media is resulting in K-12 teachers in British Columbia being subject to disciplinary action and how teacher candidates are preparing to meet the challenges of becoming a “subject of interest” upon entering the teaching profession.