Here’s a T-shirt caption for someone to print in exchange for a bundle of money from sales: “Mobile PC Rules in Schools.” People will appreciate the double meaning. It seems from technology roadmaps likely that mobile PCs will at least appear, if not rule, as ubiquitous in schools in the next five years as students with textbooks appear today. The following mobile PC rules of professional etiquette in schools for teachers derived from applying traditional professional practices to contemporary communication technologies.
1. Keep your own counsel. Limit discussions about professional duties, likes and dislikes about classroom practices, personnel matters, curriculum disagreements, etc. to private meetings. Do not blog about them, even indirectly. It’s not hard to trace your posts back to your school and make, perhaps incorrect, guesses about which people you’re discussing.
2. Keep your nest clean. Post, email, and talk in public, even on personal sites, only about the good things occurring with your students. Avoid references to words and deeds that might give the appearance that you are not the best thing that has happened to each student in your class. That means, avoid discussing any personal problems you have or difficulties in school or with students. Do not date your students, families, et al. To some, such personal interaction is a form of obnoxious pornography (and yes, teachers have lost their jobs for viewing pornography even at home on their personal desktops).
3. What happens in school stays in school. It matters not to people at the next restaurant table if Johnny gave you a bad time in class today, unless Johnny’s mom sits there. Then, you could loose your job when she complains to your principle about your unprofessional behavior in public.
4. Defend the home front (your school and district). Your actions speak louder than your words. The performance of your students is your strongest position. Enough journalists, parents, and others already spin negative stories about teachers and schools as part of their jobs.
5. Act like a deserving public employee. Students deserve your informed optimism, talents, and enthusiasm. Rhetoric not to the contrary, that’s what most of us are, employees of someone, not independently wealthy contractors. You never know who may read your posts online. It’s an open party line. Expect parents of your students, grad school admissions clerks, a potential employer, personal distracters, or professional competitors to search online for anything they might find that will discredit you, if they see it in their interest to do so, today or sometime in the future. This includes comments, visual images, hasty conversations, cutsie phrases with double meanings. You know how others can twist an idea to mean something originally unintended in context. You don’t need that aggravation.
Some of these principles fly in the face of a growing body of online chatters by aspiring and incumbent teachers. These mobile PC rules seem an intrusion on personal freedoms. They do limit personal behavior. As union stewards know, more problems result from violating these rules than appear in news reports and in movies. Please consider making news because of your students’ academic accomplishments.
Some teachers argue, based on their principles, against these principles. They accept risks that come with violating these traditional practices. I have done the same. Yet, the five principles will likely remain.
Teachers preparing for student teaching seem a likely market for the T-shirt “Mobile PC Rules in Schools” when they address the generic question, “What uses do mobile PCs have in schools?” A generic response includes, “Mobile PCs, especially Tablet PCs and Ultra-Mobile PCs provide a ubiquitous interaction with learners and others. Use it to your students’ advantages.”
(This is the latest in a series about teacher preparation with mobile PCs.)