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Teachers: Use Social Media for Educating Kids, Not Mocking Them

A Chicago teacher who made fun of one of her second-grade student's hairstyles online is just the latest example of social media misuse in schools.

Teachers, I know you get frustrated and have bad days, that's understandable, but the internet is not the place to vent about your students. No matter how private you think your Facebook page is, or how small your personal blog readership may be, what you've said will become a problem for you.

The latest example of online communication about students gone wrong comes from Chicago where a teacher at Overton Elementary on the city's South Side decided to mock one of her second grade student's hairstyles. Seven year-old Ukailya Lofton, who'd asked her mother to style her hair for picture day by tying Jolly Rancher candies to the ends of her braids, thought her teacher was being complimentary when she asked to take pictures of the hairdo.

Sadly, the teacher posted the photos to Facebook where she and her friends proceeded to make fun of the child, allegedly writing things like, "'If you are going to make your child look ridiculous the least you could do is make them matching." But, what the teacher didn't realize is that one of her friends is also friends with Lofton's mother, Lucinda Williams. That friend copied the pictures and comments and emailed them to Williams. Now the teacher faces disciplinary action and Williams is suing over the emotional distress the whole incident has caused her daughter.

One year I had a boy who'd pick his nose, collect all the boogers into a pile, and roll them across his desk till they formed a ball. Yes, it was incredibly gross. But he was 10, in the third grade and he only read at a first-grade level. Making fun of him online or venting my frustrations about him wasn't going to help either of us. And when a mere 32 percent of Overton's students are proficient in reading, and only 52 percent are proficient in math, wouldn't Lofton's teacher be better off using social media to help this child academically instead?

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