Be careful when modeling behavior in public

As a teacher I try to be aware of my “public” persona and model the behaviors I desire from my students. I am very aware of the words I chose and how I act. We have all heard the stories of “bad” teachers and how their behaviors have been broadcast out on social media. Recently here in metro Detroit: a recent news report talked about pictures of a teacher at a popular “beach” party emerging on Facebook.  It is becoming apparent that mistakes now last forever. Everyone should be careful. I am more concerned with behavior that does not hit the media but has a greater effect on our students.

Last week, I was enjoying watching the Detroit Tigers win the American League Pennant with my 8 year old son. As usual, I was also reading twitter during the game. After Austin Jackson homered to put the game out of reach (7-1) in the seventh inning, I noticed a tweet. “Regardless of the outcome of the Yankees-Tigers game, Detroit is still the worst city on Earth.” I was taken aback. I live in Detroit (or at least the Metro Area). I have been to third world countries that I felt were worse. Responded saying it was a bit harsh. Shook it off thinking about someones emotionally upset about his team’s performance. A bit latter I noticed another tweet, “F*** A-rod, F*** Granderson, F*** Cano, You all Suck”. This was coming from someone I respected on twitter. I was shocked. I quickly replied “If you are a true fan you would not model such poor sportmanship in public. Bad example for the next generation.” Sure it might be ok to say that to a friend at the bar or the person sitting next to you at the game, but to the world on twitter? It seemed like the middle school behavior I am attempting to change.

Society needs to remember that when ever and where ever we are in public we are modeling behaviors for the next generation. Sadly, not enough people are thinking when they model behaviors. We often forget that something said to a friend should not be blasted across the internet for all to see. It seems people are too quick to type, out an insult or criticism and broadcast it to the world. What if it was said in a classroom? Wouldn’t it be written up as bullying?

One thought on “Be careful when modeling behavior in public

  1. This is the tricky part about social media…the fine line between what to put out there for all to see, and what to hold back. Knowing when to say when, social media-wise, is a skill we need to teach students. It can’t just be a one time lecture on how what you post can come back to haunt you, either. It needs to be an ongoing, continual conversation. If we have these talks with kids, regularly and in a meaningful way, maybe we can help them to make better decisions in their own online lives. However, too often, as educators our first response is to overreact and ban students from using social media. This is the worst idea possible. How will they learn if we do this?

    I know this post wasn’t specifically about students…more about adults and thinking responsibly before we post. But we can’t help adults. We can help kids. Let’s start doing so.

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