Facebook and being a teacher… can it work?

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I must admit I have an absolute love/hate relationship with Facebook. I hate how some people use it to show off ‘So in love with my new Range Rover, so much better to drive than my Audi’. Or to declare how loved up they are with their partner (even though you saw them arguing in the street last week), ‘OMG. Came home to a trail of rose petals leading upstairs to a champagne bubble bath. Best boyfriend ever. Love him!’ Or my ultimate worst Facebook user- the ‘private’ attention seeker, ‘Can’t believe what happened! What a shit thing to do to anyone. Well that’s it, if you think you can do that to me, well you’re wrong. This isn’t over.’ Que a comment from a concerned ‘friend’. ‘U ok, hun?’ Followed by, ‘Yeah, babe. I’m good. are you?’ (Eh?!) Or the worse reply, ‘I’ve unboxed you babe.’ Why post it on Facebook in the first place?!

That being said, Facebook does have some positives and it’s these positives that keep me on the social media. I’ve tried to deactivate my account on numerous occasions but I just can’t do it permanently. I love the way I can keep in touch with family overseas, how I always remember my friend’s birthdays; arranging nights out with my girlfriends is so much easier with a group event, and let’s all be honest, I do really love a good nosey into other people’s lives.

However, being a teacher and having a Facebook can be a dangerous thing. At uni, the university lecturers did a fantastic lecture on the dangers of social media, they started off by showing pictures of all the student’s profile pictures that were in the lecture theatre. There were girls holding blow up penises, guys dressed up in Borat style mankinis, girls in Ann Summers fancy dress showing bum cheeks. There were lots of humiliated faces in the audience, but after that lecture everyone changed their profile pictures and names and upped their privacy settings. I mean, no parent wants to see their children’s teacher spread eagled on an Ibiza bar, do they?

I find that teachers can use Facebook if they are careful. I find that I’m much more careful about how I use Facebook now that I’m a teacher. i can no longer join in with political debates on people’s statuses, no matter how much I agree or disagree. I am careful about posting pictures if I feel my outfit is quite short or showing too much cleavage. Any photos of me holding a drink are carefully edited and as for swearing- that’s an ultimate no, no. I don’t swear in real life so I didn’t think it would even be an issue, but according to Timehop I was quite an avid Facebook ‘swearer’ six to eight years ago. I actually cannot believe the things I used to post! A friend recently tagged me in a status and I nearly had a heart attack, ‘What a fucking epic weekend with my favourites!’ When you’re a teacher there’s always a slight uncomfortable feeling when you get a notification that someone has tagged you in a status or picture. Luckily, now I’m a new mum, I saw this status at around 6am in the morning and I was horrified. I tried to untag myself from the status but couldn’t do it on my phone and so I just had to send a message to my friend and explain that I just simply couldn’t have that sort of language on my page as I’m ‘friends’ with parents, colleagues and yes, even my deputy headmistress.

You might now be asking, but why are you friends with these people? The answer is. They find you. They always do. Don’t ask me how, these people should work for MI6. My privacy settings are on the highest they can be. I don’t use my real name, I don’t show my friends list, so people can’t see me through mutual friends; I don’t even have a very clear profile picture and i never ever send friend requests. I ‘culled’ over 300 ‘friends’ when I started my PGCE and I literally have the bare minimum of friends now, people who I actually know, people who I wouldn’t cross the street to avoid speaking to. But yet, about six month into my NQT year, a TA found me. I was shocked. I had a friend request from her and I couldn’t actually believe she had found me. I could have ignored the friends request, but I had a quick look through my settings and previous posts and thought, why not? That was it then. ‘X is now friends with X’ other people saw and then it snowballed and there’s now a little school fb clique (more on that later). When the Head added me, I thought 1. Can you actually be on FB as a Head? and 2. I can’t bloody ignore the Head, can I ?! So I accepted her. And to be honest, she’s hardly ever on, doesn’t post any inapproriate pictures or controversial statuses and is very safe (bland). As for parents, they are TAs who work in the school.

As I mentioned before, there is now a definite fb ‘clique’ with people from work, so much so that I’ve decided to stay ‘hidden’ from everyone in work. Stop liking anything, anyone puts on. It goes like this, people from work ‘like’ everything that the popular members of work post and people who aren’t very popular never get any likes at all. It’s all very childish and I can’t actually believe that office politics have now transcended into your home when you’re away from work too. A very popular member of the SLT leads the way, she will gush over baby pics, like statuses of her favourites, leave sickly sweet birthday messages to her work friends and ‘tag’ herself in with her ‘X primary school favourites’, other people follow and like everything she posts. There’s a TA at work who isn’t very good at her job, it’s no secret. Everyone asks not to have her every year, she has no behaviour management, she just doesn’t ‘get’ the children and the worse crime- she is quiet. Yet she has a very active social life outside of school. This summer she has travelled around Italy, climbed a mountain in some picturesque place and celebrated her wedding anniversary. She is ‘friends’ with everyone from school and not one single person has liked ANYTHING that she has posted. It makes me mad. Before I decided to stop posting I noticed the same thing slowly starting with me. When I was at work, I was getting likes galore, since maternity, slowly, slowly declining, until I decided to stop altogether. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am really, really not bothered. What I am bothered about though is that politics and office cliques are given at work, but you can leave them behind when you walk out the door, except now, these office politics continue in your own home when you’re out of work. So that’s why I chose not to get involved. I just don’t post anything now (but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking!).

To conclude, these are my top tips for making Facebook work as a teacher:

  • Never use your full name. Have a nick name or use just your first and middle name.
  • Never have any personal details on FB. People don’t even know I’m a teacher. NEVER put your place of work, this can be seen by everyone and could potentially be used against you.
  • Customise who can see your posts. Everyone from my work has been ‘blocked’ from seeing anything that I post. That means I can still upload pictures from my night out last weekend without any of my work colleagues seeing something that could be deemed inappropriate.
  • Don’t swear. Even if it’s a comment on another person’s post. My Head mistress used the word ‘prick’ in a status this month and I was shocked. Some people might not even class it as a swear word, but it’s just not appropriate, especially from someone in leadership.
  • Don’t talk bad about your job. That includes moaning about how it’s the end of the holidays and you’re back to work tomorrow. Would you like to see you child’s teacher moaning about starting back at work. That goes for discussing the children in your class.
  • Don’t post any pictures from school (ESPECIALLY OF THE CHILDREN), I have actually seen this! I go so far as to not even post pictures of my classroom or places on school trips.
  • Be careful what you ‘like’ on Facebook. I’ve seen teachers working at school’s in a predominantly Asian area like Britain First posts. The mind boggles.
  • Make sure you have to approve things before they are tagged on your timeline. Your ‘mad for it’ mate who works in the local gym and goes out every weekend might not see the harm in tagging you in a pic where you’re passed out on her sofa from too much vodka. Better still I’ve hidden posts on my timeline from work colleagues. After the swearing incident I can now rest easy.
  • Be careful where you tag yourself in. Tagging yourself in a bar on a Sunday night might not go down too well at the Monday morning briefing session.
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Getting pregnant in your NQT year. The good and the bad.

My pregnancy wasn’t planned, but was very much wanted. I was a little bit embarrassed about getting pregnant in my NQT year, but because I got pregnant in the July, people weren’t made aware of the fact until the next academic year. Everything has pros and cons and here is my list of the good and bad reasons for getting pregnant so early on in your career.

The Bad

  • Your NQT year is a very stressful time, add in a new pregnancy and it can be a very over whelming experience.
  • Be prepared to be looked at differently. I felt that I wasn’t taken as seriously once I was further on in my pregnancy. I was taken off courses that I wanted to do and not invited to meetings that I felt I still should have attended.
  • You’ll be very tired, especially during the final stages. You’ll find it difficult to sleep at night and will come to work with an exhaustion that you didn’t feel possible.
  • You will be on the lowest pay scale which means that when your maternity becomes half pay, you will really feel the financial hit.
  • Having been at the school only a short time you will not be as established in the school and might feel like you’re starting from scratch again when you go back.

The Good

  • You’re on the low end of the pay scale. Even though I mentioned this in the bad points, I actually found it to be a good point. I was never actually down by that much money because I didn’t earn that much anyway. Some SLTs were loosing over a thousand pounds a month on maternity, which would be really hard to deal with.
  • You’re just starting out on your career so you can easily adapt to this new working life much easier than someone who’s been a teacher without children for say 10 years.
  • You have something more to focus on other than school. You can no longer spend every waking minute worrying about displays when you’ve got a baby to think about on the way.
  • You have to leave early. You will be exhausted by the end of the day and you will physically need to go home early. Plus, no one will say anything or look down on you for doing so.
  • You will get a lunch break, because a) you’ll be ravenous by lunch time and b) you will just need to sit down and rest your legs. I made sure I had nearly the full lunch time every. single. day. I thought, it’s the only time I’ll have an excuse to do this so I’m taking advantage.
  • Doctor/ hospital appointments. You will have quite a few mornings/ afternoons off which breaks the week up and gives you some much needed lie ins.

Pregnant woman at work writing in binder

I’ve been a bit quiet…. because I’ve had a baby!

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So, it actually feels like a lifetime ago that I was caught up in the drama of being an NQT because, to use that over used cliche, ‘I’ve been on a journey’. I’ve had a baby. (Que lots of maternity related posts to come). I mentioned in a few posts about medical issues, appointments and they were referring to hospital appointments. I didn’t feel I could openly talk about being pregnant because it wasn’t planned and call me superstitious, but I just wanted to wait until baby was here and everything was ok. It’s been a ride, I can tell you.

I’m currently on maternity leave, going back after the October half term. I didm;t take the full year off because it didn’t make sense financially and having gotten pregnant in my NQT year, I felt a year was too long to take off.

I got pregnant last July. I was pregnant when I had that horrendous final lesson observation where I broke down in tears (I now blame baby hormones), although I didn’t actually find out I was pregnant until the beginning of August. I told my Headmistress on the first day of the new term in September, she was surprisingly calm and supportive.

Having a baby has made me think differently about my career options. I no longer see myself staying at my school. I would eventually like to jump ship to a nice little one form entry school closer to home. I no longer want to get to the top of my profession as the added stress and extra responsibility doesn’t appeal to me now. Family does. When I first left school I couldn’t switch off and kept thinking about the children, now if I’m honest with myself, I’m not even in a rush to get back.

This blog started in one direction and has now completely changed, but I’m happy and have realised that being an outstanding teacher is no longer my main priority.