Today in ECMP 355, we talked about the idea of digital identity and how important it is to keep a professional view of yourself online as an educator. I’m assuming that most people have heard of the math teacher, named Carly Mckinney, that was fired earlier this year for posting semi-nude photos of herself and photos of her smoking marijuana on Twitter. What I found interesting about this story was the fact that she was not fired right away because she argued that she was free to post whatever she wanted. Meanwhile, in 2011, Ashley Payne was fired for posting a Facebook photo from her holidays of her holding both a glass of beer and a glass of wine. She was forced to either resign or be suspended right away. I think it is reasonable that Carly was fired for obvious reasons, but I feel like Ashley’s punishment was a little dramatic. I don’t believe that a teacher holding an alcoholic drink is necessarily a bad thing because everybody has a casual drink every now and again! It baffles me that this is worthy of automatic suspension! I would understand if the photo was of her being blatantly drunk and irresponsible, but this was just a few drinks on a holiday!
My ECMP class today reminded me of how important it is to keep a professional digital identity, especially as a future teacher and especially since different schools and parts of the world will not be accepting of everything. We do need to realize, however, that teachers are still human beings and they do have lives other than teaching. I believe that teachers should be able to embrace who they are online as a teacher and as an everyday human, obviously within appropriate standards. For example, I think tweeting about your life, whether it’s about family, achievements, feelings, etc., is a great thing because it shows that you are willing to share those personal moments with students, friends, followers and parents. It shows that you are not just a teacher, but a friend–a person you can rely on and talk to.