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Pitfalls and Precautions: Avoid electronic communication with students

November 27, 2018 Cory Schoffer, ATA Secretary to Professional, Conduct Committees

Pitfalls and Precautions is a series that aims to educate teachers on professional conduct issues by highlighting situations addressed by the ATA Professional Conduct Committee.

Social media and electronic communication are more prevalent than ever in society.

Our students help to tilt the percentage of social media and e-communicators even higher as these are often their primary sources of communication with their peers. As teachers, it is incumbent upon us to be guarded and cautious when using social media and electronic communication. When it comes to our interaction with students, this guarded and cautious behaviour needs to go even further.

In a recent hearing of a professional conduct committee, the committee heard of a teacher who engaged in inappropriate communication with students via social media. Using an alias, the teacher engaged in communication with these students. The teacher also took steps to evade the students’ parents. This action led to a severe reprimand and a $1,000 fine for the teacher.

Teachers are advised not to engage in social media or electronic communication with students. Teachers are wise to consult with the Association’s E-Liability brochure for additional information. As well, Member Services provides presentations on this topic. 

Social media communications and other forms of electronic communication leave a trail. These communications also open the door for an innocuous and innocent conversation to take a quick turn into something inappropriate. Avoiding these types of interactions with students is the best way to ensure that you don’t face any professional issues or consequences. ❚

Read more Pitfalls and Precautions articles here.

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