Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Teaching and Your Online Presence

Steve Dembo recently posted on his Teach 42 blog about "Teachers Behaving like Middle Schoolers" in regards to stuff educators have freely visible on places like MySpace and Facebook.

It reminds us all about the added weight of responsibility we all carry as role models.

I agree that we as people should be able to have whatever the heck we want on our Facebook page, we aren’t merely people.

We’re educators.

Is that being overly dramatic? Of course it is, and I 100% mean it to be. Pure and simple, we’re more of a role model than Barry Bonds, Britney Spears or Jay Z will ever be. Quite simply, we represent the good guys, the ones who have the best interests of the students in mind, the ones who care enough to stick with them and help them learn whether they like it or not. And that, if for no other reason, means that we need to be careful how we represent ourselves in public. And yes, online is public ;)

If you don't think people are really looking at your Facebook pages or Googling you, think again. Here is a blog post from talk show radio host Kim Komando instructing parents how to find all kinds of information about YOU!

A tv station in Arizona ran a November sweeps piece on what they found on Arizona teachers' social network pages. "Teachers Expose Private Lives" dug up all kinds on new hires across the state, told where and what they teach, and tried to confront many on air.

Unfortunately for some teachers, the damage was done a long time ago. People post stuff or make crazy decisions and end up paying for them every time a perspective employer runs their name through a search engine. That stuff just doesn't go away.

Not only is it important that we protect our own images online, it is crucial we teach our students about the digital tracks they are leaving behind them. Let's try to prevent some of the regret before it happens.

1 comment:

samccoy said...

You have expanded on a critically important topic that can affect the lives of many teachers.

Having a teen who interacts online, along with myself, I have had some strange experiences that lead me to believe that we may have more to worry about than monitoring our own behavior.

There is a dangerous trend among spammers and SEO's of ill repute to hijack websites, profile pages and public pages of social networking sites such as twitter, jaiku and others.

A few of my friends found our tweets online with different names, and these were part of a dating service. One of my friends was so unnerved that she made her tweets private. I am of the opinion that might deter some, but not the hard core identity thieves.

My take home story is that we need to educate our leaders, including administrators and parents, not to jump to conclusions without verification and appropriate safeguards (including hearings) for teachers or we will end up with a witch hunt on our hands in a time when we need good teachers.

Through appropriate education on this topic, communities can aggree on standards and determine which teachers are trying their best to do right. We can learn to root out cases of identity theft, overcome a social faux pas and weed out the teachers with real social/emotional issues.

Thanks for carrying on this valuable conversation;D