From the “And These Teachers Got Hired How? Department” comes this downright scary quote in a Washington Post article on teachers with Facebook/MySpace sites:
In some cases, teachers apparently didn’t mind that their Web sites were raunchy and public — at least until a reporter called. Alina Espinosa, a teacher at Clopper Mill Elementary School in Montgomery, had written on her Facebook page in the “About Me” section: “I only have two feelings: hunger and lust. Also, I slept with a hooker. Be jealous. I like to go onto Jdate [an online dating service for Jewish people] and get straight guys to agree to sleep with me.”
Asked about the page, Espinosa said: “I never thought about parents and kids [seeing it] before. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Um…that kind of says it all, I think.
So who’s to blame? The schools that hired them? Their preservice programs? Their parents? Society? Technology? Or…
lorna Costantini says
In my opinion – sometimes humble – sometimes not- the only person responsible or to blame is the individual teacher. Given all the gifts and challenges of an educator, this person has the experience and the opportunities to make good decisions or bad.
Alex Hutchison says
I agree with the above statement. To admit that you are not aware of the implications of posting such information on a public site is, in my opinion, to admit a shocking level of technological naivete or ignorance. Yuck.
Dana Huff says
…or… the teachers themselves, I’d say. If you’re going to broadcast it with your name blazoned across it, then you’d better make sure you would feel comfortable if it were on a billboard on the Interstate in your town or city because it’s the same thing. I’m not surprised some teachers don’t get this; some students don’t know it and are surprised to learn it.
teacher on FaceBook says
Another aspect to this has to do with the friends. While my own profile is dreadfully dull and boring, some of the my students (with whom I have a “friend” relationship)are quite the opposite. Shall I be judged because of what they do? Yet the fact that I have a facebook account has helped me reach and hopefully provide a positive influence for these students in ways that I could not have before. I find the issue multi-faceted.
One of the “good” things we’re doing in our district is a short required orientation for all new hires at the beginning of the school year… and we talk about these ethical issues. I ask them– “do you have anything on your blog, your Facebook, etc. that you wouldn’t share with your administrators, colleagues, students or their parents?” We talk about their public web presence and how to be proactive about these issues.
This article goes to show that everyone can be looked up online and should expect that they will be. I think schools and places of employment searching their employees is a good thing. If a teacher like the one is this article does not even care that they display themselves in a negative way online then they do not seem like the most responsible types of people. Many people feel that they are safe online and will not be found out because nobody can see who it is, but the fact of the matter is that anyone can find anything posted online. Posts should be made as if the poster knows that the whole world can and will see everything they put online. People should be cautious of what they put online. If a person wants something to be private they should not post it on the Internet. The Internet is not the place for private matters.
The woman in this post also did not feel as if she did anything wrong. If a person wants to be a professional and be hired by professionals they need to act like professionals all the time. The Internet is no exception. If a person wants to function in the adult world they should act like an adult everywhere not just in person. If a person acts childish and foolish online and does not care of what they have done they do not seem like the trust worthy people. People need to be more careful of what they put online.
Josh TS says
I don’t think that anyone is to blame because teachers are aloud to have a life outside of school. If a teacher decides to have a social website like myspace or face book then they should not be restricted from saying anything. However they should keep in mind what he or she is placing on the Internet and everyone has or can get access to it one way or another.
Lisa Nielsen says
So many thoughts…first thing that comes to mind is something I heard a while back about the early day moral code for teachers and what they could and couldn’t do outside of work. Should educators be judged on their non-work related activities??? Where is the line? Can those pointing fingers (or hiring) stand behind a perfectly clean background? Do we want to go there? I wonder if this is a generational issue as well? I love the post on my friend the Brazen Careerist’s blog from her 20-something guest columnist at http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/06/05/twentysomething-raunchy-old-photos-will-be-part-of-the-revolution. The advice is that the 20-somethings have accepted the blurred lines of work and play and the idea that if personal doesn’t negatively interfere with professional (i.e. refrain from posting illegal Spitzer-like activities) HR needs to get over it because many of us have personal personas that may not jive with those that are professional, yet it does not interfere with who someone is at work.
All that said, we do have to teach better safe than sorry, or…how to check the background of the person checking your background :))))
Jon Becker says
I keep saying, this internets just doesn’t come with an idiot filter.
Bethany Smith says
I work at a college of education and am constantly trying to explain to our student teachers that their presence on the internet is available to EVERYONE! That they will be “judged” by the way they represent themselves online. I encourage them to try and keep their private lives public.
Now, I happened to live in a state that still has a Moral Clause to their teacher contracts. Our students are expected to uphold a code of conduct that is in keeping with what a mentor or teacher should be.
I think that is one of the trade-offs of being a public school teacher. You need to be someone your students can look up to. If you don’t want to be that – have a separate Facebook account that is not in your REAL NAME!
I’m glad you’re back, but please post more than FUD about social networking and young professionals. As a young professional in public schools, I have a hard enough time as it is being taken seriously.
Mark Carls says
Not sure who is to blame, but schools do have to check this things out now first. I do like Rick’s comment though. It is good to hear about this being brought up in a new teacher orientation program, I may run that by the people out here as well. Thanks for bringing this up again Will.
Ryan L. says
Lol Rick. Sometimes it seems that way. People tend not to think before they post or show something on the internet. I think it is lack of understanding of how to use the internet and the repercussions that come with using it without thinking.
My job focuses on making the web more user friendly for teachers and students. The mass populace has an issue with “smart” web use. Teachers, generally speaking, are bad at the internet. Younger teachers may have an advantage, but many teachers struggle with how to use the internet as a teaching tool let alone how to use it in their personal life.
Who’s to blame? Here’s one of my theories…
The answer may lie in our nation’s tolerant-of-differences and everybody’s-special-and-unique attitude, resulting in the gradual relaxation of our expectations for what it means to have a professional appearance.
I remember having a conversation during my pre-service class (15+ years ago) imploring us to be professional in our dress, behavior, and reputation. The general advice was to go to another town if you wished to party and/or socialize!
Fifteen years ago, it was rare to see teachers who had tattoos, multiple body piercings, or dress/hair that was not conservative. I wasn’t even aware that my teachers owned jeans or athletic shoes! Now, it is common and accepted to find teachers who do not have a conservative appearance.
I think pre-professionals may hear the same warnings, but don’t heed them – it’s just lip service. After all, look at all in our society who are successful and do not fit the conservative mold. What they don’t get, is that while society may be tolerant of one’s external appearance, when it comes to the education of their children, parents will NOT be tolerant of unprofessional behavior.
Gary S. Stager says
What exactly would “Teaching Googleableness” consist of?
Dennis Harter says
Wrote on this same article too.
The individuals are to blame at this stage, but the education system that produced them also has to be aware that people are participating in a world for which they are not being taught as young people about.
Online safety needs to be part of school business and curriculum. Otherwise we will keep cranking out individuals who don’t make good choices or at least cranking out more of them.
Brian Lockwood twittered this great video which followed nicely to the article. The absurdities of Facebook made clear.
Individual teacher is to blame, but fool me once shame on you fool me twice… schools better start screening and not just fingerprints and certification!
All of us who entered public education as a profession did so of our own free will. In choosing this career, we should know that there is no clear delineation between our private and public lives. I often talk with new teachers about “living in the fish bowl”, and how decisions made in our private lives can impact our professional careers. It is an embarassment to our profession when our colleagues make such poor decisions, but that embarassment is furthered when fellow educators try to rationalize and defend such behavior on the grounds of teachers “having a right to a private life.”
When I read this I was quite shocked and appalled that an Elementary school teacher would say such things on a public site. At first I was skeptical on the whole â€œGooglingâ€ people thing because I thought that it might be taking background checks a little too far, but now I think that it may be necessary. It kind of seems absurd that the school administrators had not seen any red flags before finding this online webpage.
On the question asked about whose to blame, well honestly I think that the people who hired this teacher are at fault a bit. Even though itâ€™s not like they really could have seen this coming, I guess it just goes to show you never really can know what someone could be hiding. I still think that they did make a mistake on hiring what could have been a danger to these young students. This person obviously lived a life that was clearly not appropriate for children to be around. If they had done a more in-depth search on their employees Iâ€™m sure that just by typing their name on Google, MySpace, or FaceBook could have easily brought up this information before hand and saved them from dealing with this trouble. Therefore I have changed my opinion a little on making kids and adults â€œGoogleableâ€ because apparently it can be very useful in these situations.