Some students upset with Twitter following by teachers

  • Arranging Hamilton tweets onto a Tweetdeck is something easy to do and convenient said Info Tech teacher Mr. Andy Losik.

Jared Overbeek & Cameron Everse
ThunderHawk Staff Writers

A few weeks ago, Hamilton students were in an outrage after one student found out that several Hamilton students were apart of a Twitter list run by Info Tech teacher Mr. Andy Losik and another list run by 7th grade science teacher Mr. Ted Malefyt.

Once that student told his friends that a couple of district teachers were following them on Twitter, it turned into a snowball effect and it seemed everyone was then checking their Twitter accounts to see if they were apart of “the lists.”

Some student timelines on Twitter were filled with very harsh Tweets about the school, staff, and district. Many Tweets would not be school appropriate to put in this article. The tweets were along the lines of teachers being watch-dogs and needing to know our every move. Many students wanted to know why they were put into these lists and what the purpose was.

Just like high school, rumors were flying. One rumor was that the district was paying someone to monitor these lists to know what goes on in Hamilton. Another was that student tweets could be used against them and that students could be punished for negative things written about the school or teachers.

However, staff members explained that the district was not paying anyone to monitor student behavior on Twitter.

“No one is (assigned to) monitor the students on Twitter,” history teacher Mr. Brian Grabinski said.

Teachers may not think this is a big deal, but some students were very upset.

“I just think they are being creepy,” said senior Adam Littell.

Senior Kray Freestone agreed.

“It’s a bit weird that they are concerned about our Twitters. It’s like they are looking for problems.”

Mr. Losik explained that the reason why he set up the list was simply to see what is happening locally.

“The list isn’t limited to students,” Mr. Losik said. “It contains Hamilton teachers, other people in the community or people I know through Hamilton. It surely isn’t to monitor anyone’s activity or to try and catch someone doing something. It’s is just another channel of information like a station on Sirius or DirecTV.”

Mr. Malefyt echoed Mr. Losik’s remarks.  He uses the lists for convenience to see all Twitter activity at Hamilton in one glace.  He said he could see student tweets if he was following them.  He said he does not do it to monitor Hamilton High School. He said since high schoolers tweet all the time, he doesn’t have time for that.

Mr. Losik pointed out that organizing all Hamilton people, students, teachers or parents, is just a way to manage Twitter effectively.

“Believe me when I say that I am not sitting watching the list and pouring over every post,” Mr. Losik added.  “I may glance at it once or twice a day to see if anything Earth shattering is occurring in Hamilton and with my colleagues like Mr. Tebo, Mr. Behnke, and Mrs. Sikma.”

While his use of Twitter centers more around the use of it by his Hamilton teaching peers, he did add a warning for students about posting things online.

“People need to understand that what they tweet is public and that Twitter streams are easy to discover. In fact, the Library of Congress is archiving every tweet ever sent and developing a system where a user’s entire history can be searched and read.” http://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2013/01/update-on-the-twitter-archive-at-the-library-of-congress/

While some students thought it was strange why teachers would care what students were tweeting, others were more neutral on the subject.

“I think if they gave a reason to do it, it makes sense, but if it’s for fun it’s dumb,” said junior Hayden Smith.

Nick Kronemeyer was neutral as well.

“To me it’s not as big of a deal but it is a little bit stalkerish; a violation of privacy at home,” Kronemeyer said. “I feel like (students) have a legit argument because it isn’t the school’s business. They can find better stuff to do. A few of them tried to explain it, but I feel like it’s a little weird. They can do their own thing on Twitter and not get involved.”

Nonetheless, teachers wanted to get a few points across to Hamilton students.
“A – I feel that it is important for us to remember that anything you put in the internet is for anyone to see,” English teacher Mrs. Jacquie Johr said. “B – make it private if you don’t want anyone to see.”

Mr. Losik added that the public nature of Twitter makes it easy for anyone to check up on you.

“What anyone tweets also creates a brand around them,” Mr. Losik said. “I am friends with several people who are involved in college admissions at some really good schools. They say Twitter is one of the first stops they make after reading student applications and what they find can mean the difference between not only whether they are admitted or not but also tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships.”

Mrs. Johr also pointed out that poor choices on Twitter or Facebook can cost someone their job.

“I have a friend who works as a teacher in another state,” she explained. “The principal went through every teachers’ account on Facebook and 38 teachers were fired for inappropriate material.”

Mr. Losik’s advice for students: “Keep it classy and intelligent and your Twitter stream can actually be an asset. “

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