When using email from school or your work location, it is important to remember:
- You are using a school-owned computer,
- You are possibly using a school-provided email account, and
- you are accessing email over a school corporation-owned network.
These facts alone give school officials control of the equipment and the software being used to access email.
Courts have ruled that public employees' email is generally considered discoverable under state public records laws, so it would be argued that employees have no expectation of privacy. A computer network administrator may actually tap into the computer account and read or download both the messages sent and those received. All without the employee's knowledge.
Consider these guidelines for email use:
- DO use school computers for school business only.
- Do NOT let the computer automatically remember your email password. Enter it manually each time, eliminating student access to your email account.
- Do NOT use email to conduct personal business.
- Do NOT pass along jokes, humorous photos, or chain email.
- Do NOT send religious or political messages.
- Do NOT carry on a romance over email.
- Do NOT use inappropriate language in email.
- Avoid personal comments about students or school staff.
- It is acceptable to state your opinions about school policy, but don't be overly critical or sarcastic when stating your opinion.
- If you subscribe to a listserv, make sure you understand the proper way to relay to messages.
- Since anyone can forward a message you send, assume any electronic communication will be read by someone else.
- NEVER send an email that you wouldn't want printed in your local newspaper!
Social Media Information:
Social media is everywhere, allowing us to instantly connect with friends and colleagues. Yet, failing to understand privacy settings and not establishing clear boundaries may result in your private life bleeding into the public domain. And that can have serious and unforeseen consequences for educators.
- Learn about your Facebook and other social media privacy settings. Be conservative and constantly ask yourself if you want certain information in the public domain.
- Be a smart producer. Don't post comments, photos, images, links, etc., that your mother/father would find offensive or upsetting. Chances are that your employer would find them offensive as well. Assume if you are applying for a job that the human resources and/or principal will review your online profile.
- Ask about your school corporation's social media policies. More and more Indiana school corporations are outlining appropriate behaviors in the social media world.
- Set boundaries of who you want to friend on Facebook. Strongly consider REFUSING to allow any student to be your Facebook friend.
- Assume your administration reads your content. Really? Do principals have the time to review your Facebook profile and read your teacher blogs? The answer is mixed. Some regularly check their teachers' blogs to inquire about coments about students and the school, and assess the overall climate. Don't assume because you have an alias the administration can't connect the dots between you and your blog.
- Always, always, always be sensible about content.