This week, I have been asked to develop a social media policy for my elementary school by my EDTECH 543 class. After reviewing 10 policies online and the Internet Policy at my school, it has been determined that a social media policy should be in effect at our elementary school. I noticed that many school districts had policies for staff using social media but neglected to create a policy for students. I wondered if this could be that students are not permitted to use social media at their school. After much research, I found that certain steps are crucial to create a fair and legal policy for my elementary school. I also noted that many policies were negatively worded, meaning that is sounds that the school does not trust the student. I tried to ensure a positive approach to creating this policy. I want the students to feel empowered to use social media for learning and feel responsible and trusted during social media learning. My policy is meant to be guidelines rather than rules. Online interaction is a learning process, and good digital citizenship must be taught in order to be successful. This document should be read and taught in the classroom before allowing students to interact online. We must ensure that the students understand each strategy and feel safe and confident online. “Ultimately, kids have to know how to manage online usage both ethically and responsibly” (Developing Sound Social Media Policies for Schools, 2012).
The first step in creating this elementary social media policy is to organize a team. (Anderson, 2012) This team would consist of 5 students from grades 4 and 5, 5 teachers from each grade level, 5 parents, and 2 administrators, 2 community members and the school attorney. Once we gather the team together, we will create a Google Document to keep notes and ask questions about possible strategies for students to follow. The team will also review other districts’ policies and any related policies that are in place at the district level. Once the policy is created, the team will gather again to review the final document and all feedback will be taken into consideration and added to the document as necessary. The school attorney will review the document to ensure that it is lawful, but the attorney will not be in charge of the process (Nielsen, 2012). The final document will then be presented to the students and parents at a PTA meeting. A copy of the Social Media Policy will be emailed to each parent and student and will also be available for viewing on the district website. The policy will be reviewed annually by the committee to determine if any changes or additions need to be made (Anderson, 2012).
The Elementary School Social Media Policy that I created:
Social Media Policy for Elementary School
Social Media use is encouraged and fostered at our elementary school. Our vision is to have students use social media to become global learners who learn and interact with students and experts around the world. This gives our students the ability to grow a positive digital footprint and learn the skills needed for good digital citizenship. The goals for our students is “to create lifelong learners, to increase creativity and collaboration, and to make connections.” (Cushing Academy) The proper use of social media gives our students the chance to develop these 21st century skills. The guidelines in this policy will pave the way to student success utilizing social media.
Definition of Social Media: Social Media is any form of an online presence, such as posts, comments, blogs, photos, forums, etc. that allows for interaction and communication between individuals. These social media platforms consist of but are not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Edmodo, blogs, Google Plus, Google Sites, Google Classroom, and Flickr. These interactions can be in the form of school related projects or private online accounts.
Guidelines for using Social Media
Be Respectful. Use good digital citizenship when interacting online. Always read your comments before you post to be sure that you are respecting individuals or the school district. Your digital Footprint is the reputation that you build online, and being respectful and positive will help develop a positive image. In agreement with Western Salisbury Elementary School, “Social media venues are very public. What you contribute leaves a digital footprint for all to see.”
Be Present: Positive Social Media classroom interactions can be educational and rewarding. Be present online and share work and ideas with your classmates and teachers, and complete all required collaborative interactions. According to the Cornwall-Lebanon School District, “How you represent yourself online is an extension of yourself.” Represent yourself wisely.
Be Responsible: Use good judgement when posting or commenting online. All interactions online should match the goals you set for your future. Post positive messages, best works, and appropriate artwork or photographs. According to the NYC Department of Education, you should “align your image with your goals.”
Be Resourceful: Think of your online classroom as an extension of the school classroom. All online communications related to school reflects who you are academically at all times. Post only what you would want your teachers and parents to see. According to the Howard County Public School System, “students will act in an appropriate manner and use digital tools such as websites, collaborative apps, and social media for educational purposes.” Make the best out of these wonderful tools.
Be Empathetic: Be sure to post truthful and sincere interactions. Do not post secrets and respect the privacy of others. Do not post anything that could harm the reputation of an individual or the school. According to Western Salisbury Elementary School, “make sure that criticism is constructive and not hurtful. What is inappropriate in the classroom is inappropriate online.”
Be Smart: We encourage you to interact online, but do not post anything online that could endanger another individual or yourself. Private information should be kept private and off the Internet. Do not post birthdays, addresses, phone numbers and location. Block any individuals who spam or harass you and protect yourself at all times. In agreement with the Pasadena Independent School District, this policy is not meant to censor your online interaction, but rather to protect your rights and other individuals.
Be a Good Citizen: Be inclusive and friendly to all classmates. Follow all School Internet and Social Media Policies to avoid consequences for poor judgement or behavior. According to the Leland School District, “be polite, friendly, and encouraging. Have some humor but be careful with sarcasm.”
Be Lawful: All interactions online must follow local and federal laws. Any unlawful behavior will be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities. All copyright and fair use laws must be fully abided by. In agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District, “students must represent themselves honestly and ethically online and are not to mislead others by impersonating another person.”
Be Aware: Use the school accounts wisely. Do not use the school email accounts to create social media accounts that are not approved by the school district. Be aware that many different people can view your posts and comments. In agreement with the Bloomingdale Public Schools, “comments and posts must be appropriate for an educational environment and for community members of all ages.”
Be Proactive: Report any abuse of our Social Media Policy immediately. Do not be a bystander to cyberbullying or any negative online interaction behaviors. Report this behavior to the superintendent, principal, teacher, parent or guidance counselor. In agreement with Green Mountain Elementary School, “we may not see every inappropriate comment right away. We ask that you alert us and either ignore or respond politely until we can.”
Anderson, S. (2012, May 07). How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/how-to-create-social-media-guidelines-school
Dunn, J. (2014, September 21). An editable social media policy for schools that works – Daily Genius. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from http://dailygenius.com/editable-social-media-policy-for-schools/
Developing sound social media policies for schools. (2012, May 27). Retrieved October 28, 2016, from http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/03/27/developing-sound-social-media-policies-for-schools/
Nielsen, L. (2012, June 12). Looking to create a social media or BYOD policy? Look no further. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/06/looking-to-create-social-media-or-byod.html
Students. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2016, from http://schools.nyc.gov/RulesPolicies/SocialMedia/students/default.htm
Links to social media policies that were explored: