With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

For the past 10+ years, I have been a technology trainer, a teacher out of the classroom. This means, when I was still in the classroom, the “social media” of the day was MySpace.

If parents (or even students) weren’t happy with something in our classroom, they could have posted publicly, but it wasn’t as common as today with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. To my knowledge, no one did. If they had a concern, they could talk to me or occasionally go to the principal. This meant any missteps (and teachers DO make mistakes!) were localized. My families taught me so much over the years. I am grateful for all I learned and try to share some of that learning with new teachers.

Recently, I saw a post from an “edu-celebrity” complaining about a classroom practice. I agreed completely with the error of the practice, but what I didn’t agree with was that the message mentioned that the practice was being used by edu-celebrity’s kid’s teacher. It does not mention the teacher, but this the second time I have seen a message from this person calling out their child’s teacher on social media (especially since I muted this person from my feed for months).

Globally, most won’t know the specific person being called out since there is no name in the message, but, locally, my guess is most at the school follow this teacher/parent and know which teacher is being mentioned.

Spiderman quote "With great power comes great responsibility." by Stan Lee in blue lettering on a spider web background

“With great power comes great responsibility.” (Yes, I’m quoting Spiderman, though, full disclosure, it may have come from an 18th century French quote before being written in a comic book by Stan Lee.)

No matter the origin of the quote, the premise is true. When you are an edu-celebrity on social media, or even if you have ANY followers, others may listen to your thoughts and share them.

If a parent was frustrated with me, it may be shared with other parents at the school, but probably wouldn’t go beyond that. When shared on social media, it has a reach that could number in the millions. Be responsible and share information that is accurate, use your platform for good, to create a positive influence and to demonstrate that the internet can be a supportive, encouraging place.

If we speak to our students about cyberbullying, we need to attempt to demonstrate that ourselves. I recognize that this post could be viewed as bullying the author of the post, but I am not going to reveal the person who started the thread nor the topic, in part because there are probably numerous examples by many edu-celebrities who, in a moment of frustration, have sent out a message that maybe, in retrospect, wasn’t a good choice.

As educators, we have enough struggles with poor funding, a lack of support at times, challenges in the classroom, behavior issues, curriculum, materials, etc. without adding to the struggle by tearing each other down.

Call out a concept, call out a company, but please try to avoid calling out an individual on social media.