Documentation:Digital Tattoo Case Studies Project/Education/Case Study Drafts

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Case Study #1: Teacher/Blogger

Short URL: https://go.library.ubc.ca/4hJgpM

Themes Addressed

  • Teachers' digital identities and reputations are impacted by the perceptions of others.
  • Teachers are in a position to model positive digital identities for their students.
  • Teachers are held to higher standards than other professionals as they are expected to maintain the public's confidence in the teaching profession as a whole.
  • Gender bias can impact the perception of a teacher's digital identity.
  • Many teachers do not plan to teach for their entire career.
  • The understanding of the word "appropriate" can vary from teacher to teacher, from school to school, and from policy to policy.
  • A teacher's private identity (including digital identities) should match his or her classroom identity.
  • Professionally speaking, there are both opportunties and risks associated with social media use for teachers.
Table Discussion: in groups of 3-4:

1. Read the case study and consider your response to the personal reflection question as you read.

2. Discuss each question below with your group, using the resources to support your responses.

3. Take notes on your discussion to share when the large group reconvenes.

Learning Outcome

Teacher candidates should feel confident in their ability to make decisions about sharing their personal goals and interests online without negatively impacting their professional reputations.


Personal Reflection Question: While reading the case study, consider your personal response to the following question:

Teachers are held to a higher standard than other professionals. In light of this, how can I engage with my personal interests and other pursuits online without negatively affecting my reputation as a teacher?


Case Study

Sarah has recently begun her first contract as a certified teacher, teaching Grade 8 at a school in Abbotsford. The position allows her to teach Physical Education and coach one of the school’s basketball teams, which is exciting for her, as she is able to bring together her love of working with students and her passion for fitness. She is not sure, however, that she will teach for her entire career. In fact, she thinks that in the future she might want to work as a personal trainer or run her own personal training company. She has thought about doing this since she began working part time as a fitness coach a few years ago to help her pay her tuition at UBC, something she is continuing to do as a new teacher to help pay her student loan debt. She has been working hard to promote herself as a fitness coach and personal trainer online through a blog she created, which she has also made an account for on Instagram. The blog and Instagram accounts have helped her track her own fitness progress, while also helping her to connect with clients and other people with the same interests. She and her followers have been able to share tips and ideas, which she has been able to put to use in her fitness coaching, and she believes that it has helped her to become a stronger Physical Education teacher. The blog and account have also been a way for her to attract new clients and demonstrate the progress that they can make.

Sarah has always had some concerns about whether or not others may have a problem with her blog and its related social media accounts. She has heard stories of teachers who have been disciplined for pictures, comments, and posts made online, but most of the stories she has heard involve teachers saying negative things about their schools or students--none of which she does on the blog. In fact, she makes no mention that she is a teacher in her blog and does not share her blog with her students or their parents.

While preparing to complete her first practicum in the College of Education, Sarah’s friend Sofia, who was student teaching at the same school, had encouraged Sarah to make the blog and Instagram account private--or even remove them altogether--just in case anyone in the school community would have a problem with some of the pictures she posts. In particular, Sofia believed that the pictures of Sarah in sports bras and tight, athletic clothing, could be viewed as inappropriate for a teacher, saying, “If you wouldn’t say it, do it, or wear it in the classroom, then you shouldn’t say it, do it, or wear it online.”

Until now, the blog and Instagram account have not been a problem, and Sarah has continued to post about fitness in her spare time. Today, however, another teacher at her school came to Sarah to let her know that he had found some of Sarah's students looking at her blog and Instagram posts in the computer lab at lunch. The students were looking at her pictures and reading aloud some of the comments on her posts, where her followers made reference to her physical appearance with comments like "A strong woman is a sexy woman" and "She's still wearing too many clothes, if you ask me." The teacher thought that Sarah should know so that she could make a decision about what to do next and suggested that Sarah make her blog private or disable the comments. Knowing that her students have found her blog and that they have read the comments makes Sarah very uncomfortable and she is concerned that her students will not take her seriously as a teacher as a result of this. She has been finding it difficult to maintain an air of authority as a young teacher and she does not want her personal blog to make this even harder. She is also hesitant to discontinue posting or blogging, as she knows how valuable it could be for her future goals. If she wants to continue promoting her fitness and growing her following, removing the blog or making it private will make this much more difficult, and the comments are an important part of her blog, as they allow her to communicate with her followers and find new clients for her fitness coaching. Sarah does not know what she should do, but she hopes that she can continue growing her reputation as a responsible teacher, while also working toward and sharing about her other interests and personal goals.


Discussion Questions

1. How should Sarah respond in this situation? Would you recommend that she make any changes to her blog and/or Instagram account? How should she address the situation with her students?

  • Consider these resources when answering:
  • Sections of this document that are relevant to this case study are "When Private Becomes Public," "Social Networking," and "Know Your Rights and Responsibilities."
  • Pay particular attention to the section "Minimizing the Risks: Advice to Members" to help you determine whether or not you believe Sarah should make any changes to her blog and Instagram account.

Canadian Teachers' Federation: Cybertips for Teachers|target='_blank'


2. Do Sarah’s blog and Instagram account violate social media policies and/or the standards for educators in BC? Note: Should this be reworded from a “Do” question to a “How do” question?

  • Consider these resources when answering:

3. In the third paragraph, Sofia tells Sarah that her blog posts and Instagram pictures could be "viewed as inappropriate for a teacher?" How would you interpret the word "appropriate" in terms of a teacher's social media presence? Are there any larger social issues that could impact what someone considers "appropriate" for a teacher? Can a teacher's reputation be negatively affected by the comments or posts others make about them online?

  • Consider these resources when answering:

4. In what ways does your digital identity reflect any personal interests and/or goals that you have outside of teaching? Do you monitor these aspects of your goals or interests more closely because of your decision to become a teacher? How can you shape your personal social media presence to benefit you professionally?

  • Consider these resources when answering:
  • Read "Blog On!"on pg. 19

Potential "If Time Allows" Resources


Case Study #2: Dating App

Short URL: https://go.library.ubc.ca/RQQsh4

Themes Addressed

  • Teachers are held to higher standards than other professionals as they are expected to maintain the public's confidence in the teaching profession as a whole.
  • Teachers sense a lack of control in regards to some online communication, leading to frustration and fear.
  • Teachers can be targets of cyberbullying for other social media users.
  • Teachers should expect that the information they put online can be found and shared.
  • School districts are less likely to support a teacher candidate than a certified teacher.
  • Teacher must be cautious when interacting with students online.
Table Discussion: in groups of 3-4:

1. Read the case study and consider your response to the personal reflection question as you read.

2. Discuss each question below with your group, using the resources to support your responses.

3. Take notes on your discussion to share when the large group reconvenes.

Learning Outcome

Teacher candidates should feel confident making decisions related to their use of social media to build personal relationships and feel prepared to conduct themselves professionally if and when they communicate with students online.

Personal Reflection: While reading the case study, consider your personal response to the following question:

As a teacher candidate, how am I protected when a misunderstanding occurs online?

Case Study

Since becoming a teacher candidate, and knowing that decisions about social media use can be difficult for teachers, Jonas has taken action with regards to his social media accounts in an attempt to avoid crossing any professional boundaries during his practicum. He keeps his Facebook and Instagram accounts set to private, uses pseudonyms as a precaution--as he knows that privacy settings on social media can change without his knowledge--and has explained to students who have asked to follow or “friend” him on social media that he will not do so, as he believes that communication between a teacher and student through personal social media accounts would not be appropriate.

Prior to beginning his practicum, Jonas created an account on the dating app Grindr and, after reading through the school district’s official social media policy--which does not prohibit or even make specific mention of teachers’ use of dating apps--he decides that he could continue using the app as it is not likely to interfere with his role as a teacher. After all, all users of the app must be at least 18, his app preferences are set to show him only other users who are at least 20 years old, and his profile does not include his last name or any mention of the fact that he is a teacher candidate, let alone the school at which he is teaching during his practicum. The profile does include photos that other users of the app can access, but he does not consider any of the photos he has posted to be inappropriate.

A few weeks into his practicum, during which he is teaching high school students in grades nine and ten, he receives a message "Hey, Mr. B ;)" on the dating app from someone he recognizes as a student from the school’s senior class. Initially shocked that a student could be using the app to contact him, Jonas realizes that the student had likely used a fake age to create a profile, making it possible for him to be using the app as well. Jonas ignores the message and, even though he would like to continue using the app, he decides to delete his profile so that this cannot happen with any other students.

Jonas, feeling he has done everything he can to make the best of this situation, decides not to mention what happened to anyone at the school but, the next day, a group of students in the hallway--one of whom is the student who sent him the message through the app--asks across the hallway, “Any luck on Grindr, Mr. Brown?” while holding up a cell phone to show a screenshot of one of his photos. Jonas is shocked that the student saved and shared his picture and is embarrassed to see that his supervising teacher has seen the whole exchange. Concerned about the situation, his supervising teacher suggests that she and Jonas meet with his faculty advisor and the school administrator to discuss what happened. Jonas, who has been making professional connections with the teachers and administrators at this school, is now worried that this situation could make them view him differently, especially because he is not yet a certified teacher, but he also believes that his use of the app is appropriate and would like to continue using dating apps in the future.

Discussion Questions

1. How should Jonas approach this situation with students and school administrators? How much support should he expect from administration given that he is a teacher candidate? Would the reaction of administrators change depending on the type of school (e.g. public vs Catholic vs private school) or the location of the school (e.g. urban vs rural school) in which Jonas is teaching? Are there any larger social issues that may impact an adminsitrator's handling of this situation?

  • Consider these resources when answering:

2. Is Jonas' use of a dating app a violation of either social media policies or the standards for BC educators?

  • Consider these resources when answering:
  • Note: This is a draft policy, and has yet to be updated or officially implemented by Vancouver School Board.

3. How would you handle the use of dating apps as a teacher? What steps would you take to manage risks and avoid any negative repercussions?

  • Consider these resources when answering:

4. How does the potential for student-teacher communication impact your social media decisions? How would you handle situations in which students try to contact, follow, or “friend” you online? Professionally speaking, which social media platforms could teachers use to communicate with students?

  • Consider these resources when answering:
  • The relevant article is on page 6.

Potential "If Time Allows" Resources


Case Study #3: Pop-up Problems

Short URL: https://go.library.ubc.ca/6nrBcR

Themes Addressed

  • Teachers are held to higher standards than other professionals as they are expected to maintain the public's confidence in the teaching profession as a whole.
  • Teachers may have greater cause for concern (and less privacy) when using internet connections and devices own by school districts.
  • The use of personal devices for professional purposes introduces both opportunties and risks for teachers.
  • The risks associated with technology use can lead to frustration and fear for teachers.
Table Discussion: in groups of 3-4:

1. Read the case study and consider your response to the personal reflection question as you read.

2. Discuss each question below with your group, using the resources to support your responses.

3. Take notes on your discussion to share when the large group reconvenes.


Personal Reflection: While reading the case study, consider your personal response to the following question:

Technology and the internet can enhance learning and engage students. Knowing this, am I prepared to incorporate personal technology into my teaching and handle any awkward or difficult incidents that occur as a result?


Case Study

Shira is always looking for creative ways to engage the grade 3 students she is teaching while completing her practicum. While searching online for a fun ideas for her classes, she comes across a lesson plan that involves painting using toy squirt guns, which she thinks her students would enjoy. While her students are working on their math problems, Shira decides to search for inexpensive squirt guns she can purchase to use with the lesson. She uses a personal laptop that she brought to school because her supervising teacher is using the classroom computer for her own work. Although she was advised that teachers are encouraged to use only school devices for work, teacher candidates were not given computers to use for their teaching, which means that Shira has had to use her own laptop at school. She tries to keep her device locked with a password when she is not using it, just as her supervising teacher does with the classroom computer, ensuring that students cannot gain access to any of the their work or personal accounts unsupervised.

While searching for suitable toys with search terms like “squirt gun” and “squirt toy,” Shira explores the suggested webpages, one of which unexpectedly features sex toys with names and descriptions related to her search terms. She quickly returns to the Google search results to continue looking for appropriate resources but not before, unbeknownst to Shira, a sexually explicit pop-up advertisement has emerged behind her search window. While she continues to explore the links, Shira notices that a student has his hand raised to request assistance with a math problem and, hoping that he has not been waiting long, she leaves her computer. In her rush to help the student and any others who may have questions about their work, Shira forgets to close her search window or lock the device, and does not think to do so as she becomes busy helping students for the rest of the period.

Later, as Shira prepares to switch from one subject to the next, she connects her laptop to the classroom projector, so that she can show her students a video she plans to incorporate into her next lesson. After the projector has been connected, she closes the search window she had been using earlier, making the pop-up visible to both Shira and her students for the first time. Although she hurries to close the pop-up she is not able to close it before her students have a chance to see it on the screen. Her supervising teacher is alarmed by the image that has been made visible to the young students, who are now asking questions about what was on the pop-up. Shira does not know how to discuss what happened with the students or their parents and is immediately worried that she could be disciplined because of this, despite it having happened unintentionally.

Discussion Questions

1. Has Shira violated any policies regarding the use of technology or the standards for educators in BC?

  • Consider these resources when answering:

2. How should Shira address this situation with students, administrators, and students’ parents? Is this scenario grounds for discipline?

  • Consider these resouces when answering:
  • The relevant document is on pg. 12. Read the section titled "Factors the Commissioner would consider when evaluating the case."

3. How would you handle the use of personal devices in your teaching? What steps can she take to avoid an incident like the one in this case study? What factors do you consider when deciding whether or not to use a personal device at school?

  • Consider these resources when answering:
  • The comments on this post have additional suggestions.

4. How does your position as a teacher impact your internet searches and other online activity? How would your decision-making change when you are using internet connections and/or devices owned by a school district?

  • Consider these resources when answering:
  • Read the Douglas Lee Saunders case summary on page 59.



Case Study #4: Snapchat Mishap

Short URL: https://go.library.ubc.ca/PT9vJ3

Themes Addressed

  • Anything that teachers post online can be found and shared, whether their social media accounts are public or private.
  • Teachers are held to higher standards than other professionals as they are expected to maintain the public's confidence in the teaching profession as a whole.
  • Teachers' digital identities and reputations are impacted by the perceptions of others.
  • Teachers are in a position to model positive digital identities for their students.
  • The use of social media for private and/or professional purposes comes with both opportunities and risks for teachers.
  • For teachers using social media, the difference between censorship and reasonable limitations is often vague and confusing.
  • Teachers may limit their online expression in an attempt to avoid repercussions.


Table Discussion: in groups of 3-4:

1. Read the case study and consider your response to the personal reflection question as you read.

2. Discuss each question below with your group, using the resources to support your responses.

3. Take notes on your discussion to share when the large group reconvenes.

Woman on cell phone.

Personal Reflection

While reading the case study, consider your personal response to the following question:

Teachers can use social media accounts as a way to effectively communicate with students, but they also pose risks. How would I manage school-designated social media accounts?


Case Study

After being encouraged to take advantage of communication apps commonly used by her students as a teaching tool with her high school Social Studies classes during her practicum, Jessica decided to make teaching accounts on a few different apps and websites in order to engage her students. After discussing her ideas and getting permission to create school-related social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat with her supervising teacher and the school principal, Jessica made the accounts under her name Ms. Yu, and advised students that, though it was not a requirement, they could all add and follow her teaching accounts on these apps as opposed to giving them access to any of her personal accounts. Doing so meant that she could send out links for news articles that were relevant to their class material, communicate with parents and students about assignments and other classroom news, and get in touch with students even outside of class hours when they had quick questions or wanted to share images and other items they found relevant to their schoolwork. Thus far, Jessica has found her students to be engaged in their work and has received positive comments from her supervising teacher, who has found that her incorporation of social media adds creativity to her lessons.

While teaching a unit about BC elections, Jessica was determined not to share her personal political views with students, despite her being politically active outside of school, as she did not want to impress her views on anyone or upset any students, parents, or other teachers who felt differently. Instead, she was focusing on the ways in which elections were conducted in BC and decided to run a mock election with her students. As a part of the unit, she wanted students to study and create political campaigns, encouraging them to take and share photos of real campaign strategies they found with her school-desginated social media accounts so that they could discuss them in class. She advised them to check the accounts, as she would also share images she found outside of school.

One day, after taking pictures of some political flyers and posters she found on her way home and sharing them with the class account, she decided to post one of the posters that she particularly disagreed with to her personal Snapchat story, captioning it “How could anyone possibly vote for this moron?!?” A short time later, she received a Snapchat message from one of her students that said, “Tell us what you really think Ms. Y!” Realizing that she had accidentally sent the image from her school account instead of her personal account, Jessica quickly removed the image from the account's story feature, but could see that multiple students had already opened it and she had a notification indicating that one of the students had taken a screenshot of the post.

The next day, her supervising teacher informed her that he had received a complaint from one of the parents of her students who had seen the image and felt that it was inappropriate for a teacher to express political opinions to students, and Jessica would have to meet with her facilitator and the school administrator to decide how to handle her mistake. She is now trying to figure out how she can discuss this with her students, and she is also concerned that this could jeopardize her practicum, as she has heard stories of other teachers being disciplined for political posts on social media. She also thinks it may be best to delete all of her school-related social media accounts in order to avoid having anything like this happen again.


Discussion Questions

1. Does Jessica's use of Snapchat adhere to social media policies and/or the Teacher Education Office’s practicum guidelines?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • Read the "Staff Guidelines" section on page 3.
  • Read the “Respect for Others” and “Responsibility” sections on page 5.


2. How should Jessica approach this situation with students, parents, and school administrators? Can she turn this into a positive expeirence? Would you recommend that she continue using social media in her teaching despite this incident?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • Read "Making Connections" on pg. 45.


3. Do you plan to utilize social media as a tool in your classroom? How would you incorporate social media into your instruction while managing the associated risks?

Consider these resources as you answer:


4. What do you consider before sharing your personal beliefs and opinions on social media? Would you share more on a private account than you would on an account that your students see? Are there any beliefs or opinions that you would avoid sharing on social media altogether?

Consider these resources as you answer:


Potential "If Time Allows" Resources



Case Study #5: Questionable Comments

Short URL: https://go.library.ubc.ca/jRkPXM


Themes Addressed

  • When used appropriately, social media can be a source of connection and community for teachers.
  • Teachers are held to higher standards than other professionals as they are expected to maintain the public's confidence in the teaching profession as a whole.
  • Teachers' digital identities and reputations are impacted by the perceptions of others.
  • Teachers should expect that the information they put online can be found and shared.
  • Even private online communications pose professional risks for teachers.
  • Teachers are expected to protect students' personal information when communicating online.
Table Discussion: in groups of 3-4:

1. Read the case study and consider your response to the personal reflection question as you read.

2. Discuss each question below with your group, using the resources to support your responses.

3. Take notes on your discussion to share when the large group reconvenes.


Personal Reflection

While reading the case study, consider your personal response to the following question:

How would I respond to seeing a fellow teacher or teacher candidate make inappropriate comments through social media?


Case Study

Before beginning their practicums, a group of teacher candidates who were placed in the same school to teach created a private Facebook group and a group chat through text so that they could share resources, discuss their experiences, and plan times to get together outside of school. Because they were all trying to monitor their use of social media in order to avoid breaching any policies, they decided to communicate through this group, as opposed to posting on their profiles where anyone could see the posts, photos, and comments. Recognizing that they could help one another succeed by monitoring their social media interactions, all of the teacher candidates agreed not to post about each other or post any photos from their parties and other get togethers without asking for permission, especially if they were drinking alcohol or wearing revealing clothing that they wouldn’t wear to school.

When they began their practicums, the Facebook group and group chat were primarily used to share resources and suggestions for their teaching, and arrange meeting times and places for their parties and meet-ups. As the practicum progresses, however, and the teacher candidates become more stressed because of their workloads and frustrated by some of their experiences, including disruptions and disrespect from students and other teachers and administrators that they didn’t enjoy working with, some members of the group have begun using the social media groups to vent and let off steam. Mark, one of the teacher candidates, finds his ninth grade science class in particular to be consistently difficult to manage and feels unfairly scrutinized by his supervising teacher, who often leaves the classroom for long periods of time during his lessons, for his inability to maintain control of the class. Mark has started expressing his frustration to his fellow teacher candidates through their texts and Facebook conversations, making comments like “I hope these kids enjoy their jobs at McDonalds--they’ll be working there forever at this rate” and “Can they really call her my supervising teacher if she’s never in the room while I teach?” One day, while his students are working on an assignment, and while he is grading their most recent tests, he takes photos of some of his students’ wrong answers and later sends them to the group message, saying “These kids are such idiots sometimes. Maybe if they tried paying attention in class they wouldn’t give answers like these on tests!”

Although Maria, another teacher candidate in the group, understands his frustration and can relate to his difficulties managing students in the classroom and feeling like there isn’t enough support from other teachers, she also feels that the comments he makes about them are inappropriate--even if the students and other teachers can’t see them--and that they might represent professional misconduct for certified teachers. At the same time, she considers Mark a friend and she recognizes the need for teacher candidates to protect one another. She doesn’t want to upset her fellow teacher candidates, especially Mark, by sharing the texts and Facebook posts with their facilitator or the school administrators, but she doesn’t think that sharing students’ work and making comments like these is acceptable.

Discussion Questions

1. Are Mark's comments, made through private text exchanges and Facebook groups, a violation of social media policies and/or the Teacher Education Office’s practicum guidelines?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • Refer to "Professional Conduct for Teacher Candidates," which begins on page 4.


2. What would you do in Maria's situation? What should she consider when making a decision?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • Read "The Inappropriate E-mail Incident" on page 10.
  • Read "Background and Facts" on pages 1-2.


3. To what extent can teachers expect privacy when communicating digitally? What should teachers consider before sending messages to colleagues?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • Read the "Why Be Concerned?" and "Guidelines and Advice" sections.
  • Read "Minimizing the Risk: Advice to Members" on pages 6-7.


4. What are the benefits of communicating with other teachers and teacher candidates through social media? How would you use social media to connect with colleagues?

Consider these resources as you answer:


Potential "If Time Allows" Resources

  • Read "Agreed Statement of Facts," points 7-9
  • Read "Professional Conduct Advisory: Professional Boundaries and Social Media” on page 14.
  • A description of the relevant Facebook posts is on page 2.



Case Study #6: Rate My Teacher Candidate

Short URL: https://go.library.ubc.ca/KXxmvs


Themes Addressed

  • The risks associated with social media use can lead to teachers avoiding it entirely, which can give others more control over a teacher's digital identity.
  • Teachers must consider both their active and their passive footprints when making decisions about their digital identities.
  • Teachers sense a lack of control in regards to some online communication, leading to frustration and fear.
  • Professionally speaking, there are both opportunities and risks associated with social media use for teachers.
  • Teachers are in a position to model positive digital identities for their students.
  • Teachers can be targets of cyber-bullying for other social media users.


Table Discussion: in groups of 3-4:

1. Read the case study and consider your response to the personal reflection question as you read.

2. Discuss each question below with your group, using the resources to support your responses.

3. Take notes on your discussion to share when the large group reconvenes.


Personal Reflection

While reading the case study, consider your personal response to the following question:

The risks of social media cause some teachers to avoid using the platforms, but could limiting my use of social media also have a negative impact on my professional development?

Case Study

After hearing stories about teachers being disciplined or criticized for online posts, Mateo decided not to use social media during his practicum. He was not a regular user of social media anyway, having only a Facebook account that he posted on occasionally. Between using the highest available privacy settings and continuing to post very little from the account, Mateo felt confident that he was unlikely to run into any problems related to social media while teaching. While completing his practicum, he knew other teacher candidates who had multiple social media accounts and were more active online. They would sometimes express concern over the potential for certain posts or pictures to have a negative affect on their reputations as teachers and Mateo was grateful not to have the same worries. Although some of his friends liked using social media as a way to connect with other teachers, find resources, and share their positive teaching experiences, Mateo believed that the risks of social media outweighed these benefits. He was relieved to have decided not to use social media when he would hear that other teachers and teacher candidates had posted about their negative experiences at school, wondering why they would decide to air their frustrations online even if they did not have other teachers or students as followers and friends. On certain days during his practicum, especially when the two students he found most difficult to manage had caused numerous disturbances during class, Mateo understood the temptation to vent to his friends online, but he chose to talk with them in person about his stresses instead. He did not want to make the issues even worse by putting any of his complaints online or in texts.

After completing his practicum, Mateo began preparing to apply for his first position as a certified teacher and he decided to look online for information and tips about job searches in the hopes that it would help him find a position more quickly. One of the resources he found recommended searching his name in Google in order to see what information school administrators would find about him if they did the same. Although Mateo was certain there would be little information about him to find online given his decision not to create many social media accounts, he thought he would look anyway. He thought that it would at least be worth knowing if there was another social media user with the same name that others might confuse him with.

After typing his name into Google, Mateo was glad to see that there were very few results, but he noticed that the second link led to a page on RateMyTeachers.com. At first he thought it may have been the page for another teacher, but it was under his name and was attached to the school at which he had completed his practicum, making him sure that he was the subject of the page. He opened the link to find that there were two reviews written about his teaching, both with very low ratings and highly critical comments, including “Better get ready to fail unless you’re one of his favourites…” and “He was so rude to students! He shouldn’t be allowed to teach anyone.” Mateo was pretty sure he knew which students had posted the reviews, given that there were only two students he had a particularly difficult time managing in class, but he could not be sure as they were written anonymously.

Mateo is now very worried that if administrators look for his name online, they will undoubtedly find this page and be less likely to hire him, especially given that it is one of only a few webpages associated with him. He's also worried that students and their parents could find the RateMyTeachers page and judge his teaching by these reviews. He does not know if the school community will take something like this seriously, or if they would overlook the comments and give him a chance, but he wonders if there is something he can do to minimize the potential impact of these reviews just in case.


Discussion Questions

1. What would you do in Mateo's situation? How can he minimize the impact of his students' criticisms?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • About Rate My Teachers:


2. Do you agree with Mateo's opinion that the risks of social media use for teachers outweigh the benefits? Are there any opportunities Mateo has missed out on because of his decision to avoid social media?

Consider these resources as you answer:


3. In what ways can a teacher's reputation be impacted by the comments others make about them online? Is it likely that school administrators, school divisions, and/or the school community would take these comments seriously? Could these kinds of reviews affect a teacher's job or job search? [Note: Too similar to first question?]

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • Examples of teachers' RateMyTeachers reviews being used in news stories:

4. How can teachers protect themselves from becoming targets of others online? What steps can they take if they do feel targeted?

Consider these resources as you answer:

Potential "If Time Allows" Resources