Emails and Education Make for Bad Bedfellows…but so do Educators and Students

Personally I think emailing parents and students is a bad idea.  Parent-teacher-student communication is best left in person or on the telephone.  I’ve been saying that for ages but there are many secondary school Ontario educators who regularly email families and students.  Yipe.

Our industry mag, Professionally Speaking, sent out an insert about electronic communication between teachers and students.  I juuuust knew there was a reason I didn’t like that idea. The insert warned that allegations of an improper relationship could be made against a teacher via emailing.  Well, no duh. There were a number of specific guidelines (warnings) pertaining to educators and email:

    1. professional boundaries can blur
    2.  know and respect proper professional boundaries with students, even when students initiate electronic interaction
    3. the immediacy and simplicity of a text message…may lead to longer, informal conversation…rules may relax and informal salutations may replace time-respected forms of professional address
    4. the dynamic between a member and a student is forever changed when the two become “friends” in an online environment
    5. online identities and actions are visible to the public and can result in serious repercussions…in theory anyone can access the users’ musings, photos and information…further, the words can be altered, forwarded and misquoted.

        Once a person posts their pics online they become

public property

        .  This is true of everyone who uses the internet. And as point #5 states anyone can access your photos and info.  The scary thing is not only can a person be misquoted but their pics can be altered for the worse.  Consider what would happen to a teacher’s career if a

falsified explicit photograph

      of that teacher showed up on facebook. Even when an investigation proves the picture to be false that persons’s reputation is forever compromised.

We seem to be hearing a lot about inappropriate teacher-student relationships lately. I believe many of these relationships begin and are maintained with electronic communication whether via email, facebook, myspace, and other social media.Often allegations of sexual abuse or a sexual relationship are a direct result of emails between students and teachers.  The student fantasizes about the teacher. Hey, kids are gullible and they fantasize at that age but when a teacher indulges that fantasy by answering flirty emails, that’s asking for trouble.  That is a very powerful relationship in the young student’s mind whether or not that was the teacher’s intention..

Aside from the obvious crime of sexual assault in this next video, perhaps teachers with immature emotions look at inappropriate emails as flirty love notes, the type kids would send to each other: Teacher accused of rape

In this saccharine video, a well-intended administrator offers a hand-written note to teachers’ friends….this is not a safe move and not just because letter writing always leaves a person susceptible to accusations. What if contacting these “special” people in these teachers’ lives caused problems? Let’s keep the electronic communications to Ontario’s report cards. If educators want to write notes and messages to students, perhaps they should adhere to this method and this method only. No allegations of misconduct comes out of a cursive writing lesson and even better, students learn something that doesn’t compromise their gullibility and educators teach without compromising their careers.

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