TeachersFirst Question of the Week

TeachersFirst.com had this for the question of the week recently. Below it is my response.

Some teachers create their own MySpace and FaceBook accounts. Some have personal blogs. A recent article in the Washington Post details indescretions by teachers in such public spaces. If a teacher wants to have a personal web presence, what guidelines or advice would you give to him or her about what should/should not be shared online for the world to see, and why?

Having a presence on the web is like having a picture window into your life. Anyone driving by will form an opinion of you by what they glimpse through that window. If you are dancing around with your lampshade on your head – they are going to make a snap judgment. Every picture, every post, every song playing on your website creates a picture of you for someone who visits. If you are a teacher and have not learned what is and is not appropriate in public then you have bigger problems than the internet.

It doesn’t matter if it is correct, the opportunity to make an impression has passed and if it is a bad one it will be very difficult to change even if you get the chance which in most cases you won’t.

If you are the type of person that sweeps the floor, dusts and straightens up for company then do that on your website as well because company will be coming and going most times without you even knowing it.

In education this is even more crucial. Whatever is on your website may as well be on the principals’ desk, the school board meeting, the local newspaper, or a students iPod. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it. We should just use it for what it is – a tool to communicate. It is not and never has been your private diary with pictures and sound.

Our students are now creating content on the internet. We have a wonderful teaching opportunity if we choose to utilize that capability. That means we have to get on the bus with them – not stand on the sides wringing our hands. We just need to have a destination in mind and plan accordingly.