Teachers: do you delete/hide 'personal' stuff on the internet?

(39 Posts)
MeaMaximaCulpa Fri 22-Aug-14 13:38:06

We've come across 'questionable'/embarrassing stuff on the web about DCs new teacher, whilst looking them up on school website.

As an ancient, old-fashioned parent, I'm shocked at what's out there which I presume was 'displayed' when the teacher was even younger than they are now. But clearly it's easy to find and if others googled, the first results would bring them straight to these various sites on which teacher has photos and text that wouldn't merit 'respect' from their students.

Are teachers warned about what they make accessible on the web, prior to taking up teaching posts? Do young people/teachers 'mind' as much as those from my generation would, if their students know stuff about their sex lives and see questionable photos of them?

Do I let this teacher know or make a general comment to a senior member of staff about warning their young, new staff to delete/hide personal stuff on the web - but not refer to the specific teacher?

Would you want to know, as a teacher, that your students could easily google info. about your past sex life and see 'sexy' photos of you - or would you rather not know and be mortified if a parent flagged this up?

DCs have seen the stuff but have been told in no uncertain terms not to disclose to anyone else and are fairly sensible about this kind of thing. If the teacher knows the DCs know, teacher will probably alter their attitude towards DCs. So don't particularly want to get into this, for sake of DCs - but wonder if teacher should be warned for their own sake?

Interested in feedback.

strawberryangel Fri 22-Aug-14 13:42:07

I'm a teacher and I'm very careful.
I'd like to be told, and I'd be mortified. I can't imagine being daft enough to have anything awful though, not sure how any teacher is that stupid!

CatKisser Fri 22-Aug-14 13:47:34

Is it that you've put their name into Facebook and found their personal page which isn't secure? Because she might appreciate a heads up on this. (Facebook can be bastards for altering their rules so you're not as protected as you think you are.)

Personally, I have a FB page which I put absolutely anything onto except work related stuff, bar the odd funny quote from a child, etc. my privacy settings are high, but if somehow anyone could see my pictures, the worst they'd see is pictures of me with a pint in my hand - not exactly scandalous. I'm very much of the belief that teachers are entitled to their own social lives out of school, but it's pretty easy to avoid posting something illegal, work related, offensive or sexual.

LostTeacher Fri 22-Aug-14 13:49:43

I imagine the stuff you found wasn't linked to on the school website? More like you had to actively search for it?

The teacher is human, not a special species who must live like a nun for the rest of her days. Yes it is unwise to have personal stuff online but it is kind of unfair that some parents are actively searching to find inappropriate things about their child's teacher.

However, as a teacher who has sat through many e-safety meetings about our own personal information online, it does surprise me the number of colleagues who haven't made their Facebook profiles private.

pieceofpurplesky Fri 22-Aug-14 13:53:58

Can I just ask how old your DCs are or why these things appeared when looking at the school website - you would just be able to select their names.
We are told at school to be professional about what we put on and my page is very secure and even photos are hidden. This teacher sounds naive but you do sound as if you have been stalking your DCs teachers. Your approach depends on high school/primary

MeaMaximaCulpa Fri 22-Aug-14 14:51:19

One of my DCs (preteen) has HFA and is v anxious about returning to school. To help DC feel more secure about various 'unknown' elements of their new class/teacher, DC has spontaneously doen things like memorised the entire year list of students and which class each is in, all the names of the teachers and their subjects and was then wanting to 'categorise' subsets more clearly - eg "teachers who trained at X teacher training college", "teachers who went to X university" "pupils who were in class Y last year who are now in class D this year" etc etc. This kind of memorising and categorisation makes DC feel more secure.

DC followed a link for the new teacher to a specific uni where some family members have connections too and was starting to feel more comfortable about new, unknown teacher. Those of you who are familiar with HFA will understand why this kind of thing can help an anxious child with HFA feel 'safer' and imbue the unknown and unfamiliar with a greater sense of certainty and familiarity. DCs thinking would be "Teacher A who went to X university like uncle Z did and then went to teacher training college R -close to the town cousin S lives" etc etc.

In the process, DC inadvertently came across links to social websites with which I'm completely unfamiliar - like something called Bebo I think and various others? Not sure if FB was one of the links as I know little about that either and have never used FB nor has DC.

DC innocently clicked on about 3 different links and photos came up with text about the teacher's sex life etc. Nothing really graphic but I presume the kind of thing young people put on the net nowadays when they're young and naive and are trying to attract a partner?

At this point, DC called me over and showed me. I'd assumed DC was just looking at universities etc and any further info about the teacher, so DC would have a sense of 'knowing' a bit about them before meeting them. I hadn't thought there was any harm in DC doing this nor that it might be viewed as 'stalking'?

DC was upset as they have a certain attitude towards teachers as being 'benevolent, wise, authority figures". DC has previously has a mature, 'traditional' 'respectable' teacher around my age and this new teacher is much much younger. DC was shocked. We talked about it in the context of past converstaions I've had with all DCs about never putting anything at all on the web that you wouldn't be happy for a future employer to see. I'm v strict about this and none of us here use any social media sites.

The fact that some of you have used the word, 'stalking' as an instant response to my OP, suggest to me that it'd be best not to mention anything at all to the school or the teacher, in case the whole situation is turned round and implicates poor DC as the one in the wrong. This would be catastrophic for DC as DC has an unblemished record of excellent behaviour (loves to follow rules, gets on best with adults, really liked by all teachers so far etc etc.)

Very helpful to get your feedback here. Many thanks. Not sure how to help DC start off on a good footing with new teacher now, in the light of what DC has seen and read but hopefully, we can keep talking about 'mistakes people make in youth that shouldn't tarnish future reputation or people's opinion of them' etc etc.

Nerf Fri 22-Aug-14 15:00:41

Is it a special school or mainstream school your dc is moving to? Because I suspect the level of understanding of your dc needing to do this may differ accordingly.
My ds has asd and OCD and I do understand about transition and security. I would probably be using this as a learning opportunity (social) for him in that this could be seen as stalking and that teachers /people we don't know well are allowed some degree of privacy. I understand that your dc followed links and that the teachers privacy ratings aren't high, but I don't know. It seems a little intrusive.

MeaMaximaCulpa Fri 22-Aug-14 15:28:16

Nerf, it's mainstream but DC is v naive about social media and wouldn't have a clue that it might be perceived as 'stalking' as DCs only intention was to build up a picture of what to expect from the new class and teacher.

I'll talk further to DC about all this.

Even I wouldn't have thought of this as 'stalking' as I'm familiar with checking work related stuff on sites like Linked In and thought it was more or less 'normal' nowadays for people to find out about others on the web. I naively assume that everyone is as 'paranoid' as I am about what they allow to be public and that no one would allow anything available to the general public that they didn't think suitable for their employer.

Sounds as if nowadays the onus is is on the person looking on the web, not to search too far, rather than the onus being on anyone who makes themselves available on the web to ensure they're discriminating about what they put out there.

This is all very enlightening to an oldie who wasn't brought up with internet or social media - or indeed computers!

Blithereens Fri 22-Aug-14 15:39:35

I once found an ~adult story written by a teacher, easily findable by googling his email address. I did tell him, because he was giving that email out to professional contacts. No probs with him writing the stories, but I don't think he'd really thought anyone could find them.

I think I couched it in, 'Do you know, I think someone online has been using your email address!' dirty get

insanityscratching Fri 22-Aug-14 16:02:20

Yikes that's going to be awkward because I know I couldn't trust my two with autism to keep quiet about what they had found.
I think the school had a duty to your child to give him enough information for him to feel comfortable about his upcoming teacher which would have quelled his need to search out information for himself.
Dd and ds certainly have had lengthy transition periods so as they become familiar with the people who are to be their teachers. Admittedly it's easier when the teacher is in situ already (I can't tell from your post whether that's the case) but even when ds swapped schools care was taken to ensure he had enough information about the teacher to feel comfortable.
Dd and ds have always started transition from the May before they go into a new class in September by which time they are up to speed on the teacher's rules, interests and what they might expect. Ds would have wanted to know which football team they supported and dd if they had pets though rather than where they did their training and what uni they attended so quite innocuous details really.
I wouldn't approach the teacher themselves I would think it would be mortifying but I'd probably speak to SMT and ask them to alert the teacher.

LuluJakey1 Fri 22-Aug-14 16:14:25

Part of our staff induction is to make sure staff know about how to lock down social networking accounts so they are. not vulnerable in this way, and to show them examples of how easy it is for children to find info. Most schools now have Social Networking policies that make it very clear what staff should and should not do and the potential consequences.

Teenagers will often look for teachers on social networking sites. They will sometimes try to contact teachers and try to 'make friends' with them. Teachers are told never to do this and to ensure their accounts are private. They are also reminded about the Teacher Standards, one of which is about always- in every area of their life, not just at work, behaving in ways that don't reflect badly on the school and to be a good role model in school and outside. Using social networking inappropriately- to say things about work or to post things that are inappropriate can result in disciplinary action and ultimately dismissal.

I know a member of staff this happened to- he commented on a website about another school negatively. The school became aware of it and their Head complained to his Head. He was on a fixed term contract and it was terminated.

Nerf Fri 22-Aug-14 16:43:29

Mea I'm not blaming you or being critical, I just feel that there's a balance and this is a good example - there's a bit to learn about the perception of what you do and also learning to live with a bit if uncertainty - when it comes to partners and bosses that level of research might be off putting.

WaffleWiffle Fri 22-Aug-14 16:47:58

It has never occurred to me to research my DC teachers online. I do find it a bit stalker-like.

Unless they have a unique name or you have a personal email address - surely that's quite hard to do anyway?

TheReluctantCountess Fri 22-Aug-14 16:53:48

It could be that the teacher can no longer access an old account for something in order to delete it (giving them the benefit of the doubt here), but other than that they need to take responsibility for it being there.

I would not be happy at a student delving into my past online in such detail, but my young and reckless days were pre-internet so they wouldn't find anything dodgy.

I think the school needs to warn teachers about privacy settings because students are going to great lengths to find stuff out.

RebeccaCloud9 Fri 22-Aug-14 16:57:22

BTW the term 'Facebook stalking' is more like being overly inquisitive and searching out details that maybe you shouldn't ie finding out details about an ex's new girlfriend - rather than 'real' stalking (criminal, invasive, threatening).

MeaMaximaCulpa Fri 22-Aug-14 17:19:49

Teacher has a v unique name - hence the ease with which DC found info. inadvertently.

To put this in context, last year, some pupils from a different yr group apparently found something online about a different teacher - v innocuous but v personal. All the students from their class were looking at it, as the teacher had put up something in the class that used their personal account for some site. A senior member of staff realised what had happened, had a quiet word with young teacher and teacher deleted the stuff.

However, this material referred to in my OP would be perceived as much more embarassing I would think. Teacher is new to teaching and new to school and will have a key role over the next few yrs with my DC. Hence my disquiet.

To be honest, it may be tricky for me to liaise with new teacher about DC, knowing what I've seen and and read - but I will rise above it and treat them with respect and 'forget' everything, as much as possible.

It could be my 'age' that makes it harder for me to deal with things like knowing intimate and personal sexual details about a professional, as in my own working world, there's a separation between the personal and the professional and this is how I've always experienced life myself.

I think nowadays, maybe younger people don't feel the same about 'the world' knowing about their personal details and opinions. I'm probably far too 'old school' in that I'd never want a FB account or use any kind of social media for connect with my personal life and network.

MrsAtticus Fri 22-Aug-14 17:27:10

I once saw a teacher in a very bad way in a night club...surrounded by some of her students cackling and shouting 'look, miss is off er 'ed!'. shock
I've often wondered if she lost her job!

Happy36 Fri 22-Aug-14 17:39:32

I try to be careful. Some of my friends on social media are students´ parents and also colleagues. All of my settings are private but I know that isn´t totally foolproof. I don´t have any sexy photos or make any particularly controversial posts, e.g. about drug taking or with swear words in. However, there are things like photos of me with a glass of wine in my hand around a dinner table, (not drunk, though).

If I were younger I think I would be even more cautious. At 36 I have a pretty dull life from a student´s point of view and I rarely take photos - most of the pictures I get tagged in are from sports´ matches and most of my posts are about training times or factual stuff like that. I don´t put photos of our children on social media (my husband doesn´t use social media) but I think my general online profile comes across as a boring, typical mom - once students have found out you have Facebook or whatever (and seen that your posts/photos are really dull) I think their curiosity is satisfied.

At my school and in my previous office jobs candidates are always screened online before we ask them for interview or offer them a job.

Happy36 Fri 22-Aug-14 17:40:28

MrsAtticus As long as the teacher wasn´t doing anything illegal and it was on her own time I can´t see why she should have lost her job. More worrying is that the students were in the nightclub!

finallydelurking Fri 22-Aug-14 17:41:57

What lulujakey said

The teacher is in idiot. Anybody working in a secondary school will be googled by students. This should have been covered in their training if they qualified recently and also during induction in any decent school as part of safeguarding.

Sooner or later this will be brought to the schools attention and depending on the severity of the posts result in something between 'management advice' and instant dismissal.

If your child hasn't 'hacked' anything they weren't stalking, though there is the risk the teacher will view it as such if you report despite the fact the onus is on them to be responsible for their own 'digital footprint'

Your call if you report it, your dc has done nothing wrong and I hope they settle in well next term.

TheReluctantCountess Fri 22-Aug-14 17:42:48

I agree with Happy with regard to the teacher in a nightclub.

Happy36 Fri 22-Aug-14 17:44:46

MeaMaximaCulpa Remember that the other teachers could be doing what this teacher has said she´s doing online, it´s they don´t tell everyone on the internet...

On a more serious note, if you are in any way worried about your children, speak to the teacher herself or to the school.

DownByTheRiverside Fri 22-Aug-14 18:17:24

I'm an old teacher, and I work with young teachers. I've even mentored a few. One of the things that they need to be aware of is that parents and children will find out things, many will actively seek out information. I don't see that as stalking, but many parents are very nosey. OP, I understand that a child with HFA has entirely different reasons.
So teachers need to be aware that their private life should be private, they are as entitled as anyone to get pissed or take photos that reveal more than they would at school. But to make their own life less stressful, they need to take precautions, like privacy settings and being careful about what they share under their own names.

MexicanSpringtime Fri 22-Aug-14 18:26:25

Re. Stalking, I don't understand the use of this term in this context.

I look things up all the time on the internet and just as easily throw the name of someone into the search box as anything else. One assumes that if people are publishing things about themselves on the internet, it is not an invasion of privacy to look at it.

MissMillament Fri 22-Aug-14 18:30:07

Did you say the stuff your DS found was on Bebo, OP? This could be from quite a long time ago as nobody has used Bebo for a few years now. It might be that the teacher has actually forgotten all about its existence and would be very embarrassed to realise that it was still accessible on the internet.

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