Teachers and Facebook, taking precautions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Teachers and Facebook, taking precautions

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- 43-year-old Marni Gable, resigned in August as a high school art teacher with the Alburnett School District, north of Cedar Rapids.

State regulators say they were never notified, even though schools must report to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners within 60 days when a teacher resigns from misconduct.

Tuesday Alburnett superintendent Michael Harrold said he did not violate any rules, and that it's a "personal matter".

According to state records regarding Gable's unemployment, "the claimant had engaged in Facebook conversations with individuals, including students of the school district, that contained inappropriate language and sexual innuendoes..." Situations like this serve as warning for teachers and students.

As student teacher Dave Spataro grades papers, he's learning the impact he has on his students.

"It's getting the kids motivated that just makes my day. It's getting maybe that one kid out of maybe 50 that it clicks," said Spataro.

But as he helps make a history lesson click, he knows students have been clicking their Facebook accounts for awhile.

"They'll friend me or ask me to be their friend and I'll tell them this is something I don't want. You know in case any problems arose," said Spataro.

Spataro has a Facebook account but doesn't allow his students to access it, he says its better to maintain a teacher student relationship.

"As soon as your start getting into that personal area you start getting into a gray area and you can very easily cross the line," said Jim Puls, Director of Technology with the Dubuque Community School District.

Puls says Facebook can be used as a teaching tool, but it's important that teachers have boundaries.

"Be very careful who you let in as your friend. Teaching is a fantastic career these people have put a lot of time and education into their career and just one mistake can change their career," said Puls.

He says the district's internet acceptable use policy clearly outlines what's right and wrong and that ultimately it comes down to one purpose.

"We want to use our computer systems for educational uses. That's pretty much the message that we put out to our staff," said Puls.

In fact the district doesn't block Facebook or YouTube, they encourage teachers to use them to help engage the students. Still beginners like Spataro say they'll proceed with caution and his students understand.

"It doesn't matter it's not that I don't like them and they know that. It's not that they've been bad in school. They gotta respect that and most of them do," said Spataro.

If you'd like to learn how to keep your Facebook private or limit what certain "friends" can see, check out Lauren's blog - Squires Scribbles on our website.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

Follow Lauren on Twitter.

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