Social Media Best Practices and Recommendations for Employees

The following social media best practices and recommendations are intended as a guide to help Blake employees to effectively use social media.

Social Media Best Practices

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for employees and their use of social media.  Recognizing that there is no definitive way to distinguish between professional and personal interactions online, these guidelines represent a general set of best practices for navigating your online presence and relationships, particularly with members of the Blake community.  The guidelines are intended to inform and educate employees, ensure the safety of students, and protect all members of the community in their use of social media.  

The Blake School encourages employees’ use of social media in service of their work on behalf of students and the school.  For suggestions on best practices for integrating social media in your classroom or activity visit http://support.blakeschool.org.  Please direct any questions about your use of school-related social media to your supervisor.   

For more information on Blake’s Acceptable Use Policy, please review “Network Rules and Policies for Employees” (section 483 of the employee manual).  

Be aware that Blake’s Harassment, Inappropriate Conduct and Offensive Behavior Policy (464) applies to all online interactions.  

Employee-Student Relations

The School strongly discourages employees from personally connecting with current students through social media (i.e. “friending” or “following” students when unrelated to school activities).  Connecting with students online carries inherent responsibilities and an obligation to acknowledge the ease with which your online interactions may be misconstrued.  

In any online interaction, employees should keep in mind the uneven power dynamics of the school, in which adults have implied authority over students.  These dynamics continue to shape those relationships after the end of the school day and year, and even after graduation.  Employees must act in a manner that always respects and never exploits the power inherent in these relationships and must uphold professional relationships at all times.

We remind all employees that if you are connected online with a student and become aware of inappropriate or illegal behaviors, you can be legally required to report said behavior.  A staff member who is connected with a student online and fails to report a posting that raises concerns, such as bullying or underage drinking, could face accusations that he or she could have prevented harm, but did not.  Please review the mandatory reporting requirement in section 464 of the employee manual.

Complaints about inappropriate or negligent online behavior will be investigated by School officials and, if warranted, employees will be disciplined up to and including termination.  Depending upon the severity of the offense, employees may have their case forwarded to the appropriate state agency for review.  

Respect and Responsibility

You are responsible for the content you post and the way you represent yourself and the School online.  Employees, parents and students reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view; you should represent and engage with all members of our community as respectfully online as you do in person.  Be respectful of the opinions of others in your posts or comments, even when you disagree.  Be certain your information is accurate, cite your sources, and respect the privacy of others.  When publicly criticized or receiving a negative comment, don’t reply in haste.   Feel free to consult a colleague or supervisor for a second opinion.  

Professional and Personal Personae

The lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred in the digital world.  Those interacting with you may consider you to be communicating as a school employee even when you are using a personal account.  Make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the School.

Remember that interaction is not only what is written, but also what is seen and heard.  Consider carefully what content you post, especially allusions to age-restricted activities such as smoking, drinking, and gambling.  (See section 423 of the employee manual.)

Sharing Information and Privacy

Online postings and conversations are not private. Do not share confidential information whether related to internal school business or specific information about students or other staff.  What you post will be seen by others and will remain online indefinitely.  Do not write about colleagues or students without their permission.

 

References

Related Blake Policies:

  • Use of Blake Logo 416
  • Media Contact and Visits 420
  • Conduct Away From Work 423
  • Harassment, Inappropriate Conduct, and Offensive Behavior 464
  • Network Rules and Policies for Employees 483

Attributions:

Social Media Task Force Members: 

Lizz Buchanan, Anne Graybeal, Rand Harrington, Steve Johnson, Laurel McMullan, Alita Shenk, and Kris Westberg

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