GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

7 tips for communicating online

Online working has become the norm for many teachers in the wake of Covid-19 and, while it has helped teaching to continue, it can present some challenges. Here are some top tips for good online practice from GTC Scotland’s Engaging Online guide.

1. Use your school’s social media account

Maintaining a formal, professional tone online and communicating with learners and parents only through a school social media account helps build professional relationships and maintain appropriate boundaries.

2. Be mindful about identifying information

It’s easy to share information that could, for example, inadvertently identify someone. Your employer’s policy will outline what is acceptable in relation to photos and videos, and which communication methods are to be used.

3. Keep learners’ data safe

Learners’ data takes many different forms and is obtained and stored in a variety of ways. This data needs to be kept safe, which means ensuring it is obtained with appropriate permissions, used for specific purposes and stored securely.

4. Sharing professional views on personal accounts

Teachers’ views about their professionalism are central to the integrity of a self-regulating profession. While you may think it helpful to offer your professional view in online conversations, it may not be the right forum for discussion. Even comments which may seem quite innocent can be misconstrued by others.

5. Be careful about what you post

While it can be easy to get caught in the heat of the moment, posting frustrations online will remain online permanently, in some form or another, even after the original post has been deleted. Limiting what you say online and being particularly careful about how you say it reduces risk significantly.

6. Monitor what your followers or friends post

Many people do not need to be as circumspect online as teachers, which is why you need to be vigilant about who you allow into your networks and what is shared through your feeds.
Comments from family or friends may not be appropriate to share. It’s important to assess posts before they are shared to prevent any negative associations.

7. Audit your accounts

The natural curiosity of learners, parents and even potential employers, results in teachers’ online activity being searched by others. While auditing your personal online accounts and restricting privacy settings is not a guarantee of anonymity, it will help you control your online footprint.

How to practise good online communication

Check your accounts regularly and review what your followers or friends have posted, who you have added and who has added you. In addition, familiarise yourself with your employer’s policies and ask yourself:

  • Will this online content reflect poorly on me, my school or the teaching profession?
  • Am I sharing or storing this photo, video etc in line with my employer’s policy?
  • Are my social media accounts set to ‘private’?
  • Have I considered the consequences of who or what I am associated with online?

You can find more reflective questions in the guide.

Read our guide for online good practice

GTC Scotland has published advice on online good practice. Engaging Online is intended as a professional learning and discussion tool to enhance teacher professionalism.