We face a crisis in which people from all walks of life are in jeopardy of losing their jobs, risking college acceptances and scholarships and even relationships due to careless online posts.

Educators are probably among the most vulnerable because they are constantly scrutinized not only by their students, but by parents and the community. They are held to a higher standard, especially when it comes to reputation-damaging online behavior.

Consider these examples:

  • Teacher “H” tweeted she felt like “stabbing” her students. Was this appropriate to put on social media?
  • A Boston teacher posted a photo from her classroom about the pilgrims without realizing the racist ramifications. When should we post images from the classroom?
  • A teacher’s aide who was named Educator of the Month enjoyed posting her passion for fashion on Instagram—only to be shamed by parents in a Twitter smear campaign. She soon found she was crossing her school’s social media guidelines.
  • A Georgia teacher’s aide in was fired for a racist Facebook post calling First Lady Michelle Obama a “gorilla.”
  • In Florida, a teacher was removed from the classroom because of her white nationalist podcast. According to HuffPost, she actually bragged about teaching her views in a public school.
  • In California, a college professor soon found out how the majority of people are armed with smartphones and are ready to record your every comment — even ones considered raciest. Her job is now in jeopardy.

Who are the role models?

In a recent YouGov Omnibus survey, 47 percent of Americans said they have a female role model in their personal and/or family life. The next most common areas are entertainment and arts at 35 percent. Closely behind are educators, at 31 percent. Teachers are students’ role models, not only in the classroom but online too.

“I can’t believe they posted that!”

Why do we post things that we know could get us in trouble? Are we not thinking it through in the heat of the moment, or do we think no one is paying attention? Are we simply naive, thinking that what we say is only among friends? Or are we the opposite, craving the approval of all those likes or retweets?

As we saw, so many times, these messes can be entirely of our own making. Your online behavior should be the best reflection of who you are offline, but so many of us don’t live up to that ideal. Teachers are no exception; on the contrary, their actions are magnified.

5 Ways to be a grown-up online

1. Pause before you post. Think twice, post once. Your online behavior is a reflection of your offline character.

2. Never air your workplace woes.

3. Never assume you’re among friends.

4. Write as if the world is watching. (Most of the time, they are).

5. Be constructive, not combative with conversations. Tempers flare, anger is temporary, online is forever.