In response to recent news reports of teacher ethics violations, the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) warns educators that inappropriate communications, including electronic communications, are a violation of ethics and can jeopardize a teacher’s certification.
The Educators’ Code of Ethics requires educators to maintain professional relationships and boundaries with students and prohibits inappropriate communication that includes but is not limited to cell phone calls, text messaging, instant messaging,
blogging and other social network communication. “Our number one priority is to keep kids safe. It’s never okay for a teacher to prey on a student,” says ATPE Media Relations Specialist Stephanie Jacksis. “Even one incident is one too many. That’s why our association takes every opportunity presented to educate teachers and to prepare teachers before they get in the classroom.”
When invited to do so, ATPE representatives travel across Texas to colleges, universities and alternative certification campuses to talk to future teachers about the dangers of engaging in inappropriate communications with or pursuing a relationship with a student.
The state’s largest educator group has these tips for educators when using social media to communicate with students:
- Know your district policy. Check with your district to see where it stands on social media use. Policies vary from campus to campus.
- Create a separate account. Never add students to your personal accounts. Social media is a good tool for posting homework assignments, upcoming test dates and project deadlines.
- Encourage parental involvement. Communicate with parents and let them know about your professional social media page.
- Communicate during appropriate times. The State Board for Educator Certification considers it more likely that messages sent in the evening or late at night are inappropriate.
For more information about the Educators’ Code of Ethics, visit atpe.org.