Documentation:Digital Tattoo Curriculum/Case Studies for Student Teachers/Rate My Teacher Candidate

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Theme

The risks associated with social media use can lead to teachers avoiding it entirely, leaving others more control over a teacher's digital identity.


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

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After hearing stories about teachers being disciplined or criticised for online posts, Azul decided not to use social media during their practicum. They were not a regular user of social media anyway, having only an Instagram account that they posted on occasionally. Between using the highest available privacy settings and continuing to post very little from the account, Azul felt confident that they were unlikely to run into any problems related to social media while teaching. While completing their practicum, they 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 effect on their reputations as teachers and Azul was grateful not to have the same worries.


Some of their friends, including Malka, encouraged them to use social media to help them professionally. Malka had created a classroom blog and Twitter account during her practicum, which she used to update her students' parents about classroom activities and showcase her teaching and lesson plans for future employers. Despite this encouragement, Azul believed that the risks of social media outweighed the potential benefits. They were relieved to have decided not to use social media when they heard that other teachers and teacher candidates had posted about their social lives or their negative experiences at school, wondering why they would decide to share these things online, even if they did not have other teachers or students as followers and friends. On certain days during their practicum, especially when the two students they found most difficult to manage had caused numerous disturbances during class, Azul understood the temptation to vent to their friends through social media, but they chose to talk with them in person about their stresses instead. They did not want to make the issues even worse by putting any of their complaints online or in texts.


Now completed their degree, Azul has begun interviewing for their first position as a certified teacher. During one of their interviews, an administrator unexpectedly mentions searching Azul's name in Google and finding comments made about Azul by their former students. The administrator wants to know if Azul has any response to the students' comments, but Azul has no idea what the administrator is talking about and does not know how to answer the question. After all, Azul has avoided using social media and they do not know how students could be posting about them on social media pages, or how someone could find their comments just by searching Azul's name.


After the interview, Azul decides to search their name in Google in order to find out what the interviewer has seen about them online. There are very few results associated with their name, but the second on the list leads to a page on RateMyTeachers.com. They open the link to find that there are two reviews written about their teaching, both with very low ratings and highly critical comments, including “Better get ready to fail unless you’re one of their favourites…” and “They were so rude to students! They shouldn’t be allowed to teach anyone.” Azul is pretty sure they know which students have posted the reviews, given that there were only two students they had a particularly difficult time managing in class during their practicum, but they cannot be sure as they have been written anonymously. Azul is now very worried that other administrators will search their name online prior to interviewing them. If they do, they know that interviewers will undoubtedly find this page, especially given that it is one of only a few web results under their name, and that finding this information could make them less likely to hire them. They are also concerned that other students and their parents could find the RateMyTeachers page and judge their teaching by these reviews, or decide to add their own negative reviews to those already written. Azul hopes that they can get these reviews removed or find some other way to minimize their impact so that they do not interfere with their ability to get a job or demonstrate their strengths as a teacher.

Discussion Questions

1. What would you do in Azul's situation? Is it possible for them to get the reviews removed? Are there other steps they can take to minimize the impact of their students' criticisms?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • About RateMyTeachers:
  • Read "How Are Teachers Rated?" on pages 1-2.


2. 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?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • Read "Suggestions for Alberta Administrators" on page 3.
  • Note the ways in which teachers' RateMyTeachers reviews have been used near the end of the following news stories:


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

Consider these resources as you answer:


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:


Additional Resources

If time allows, explore these additional resources:

  • Read "Connections to inform your professional practice" on pg. 15.


Sharing Permissions

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Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document according to the terms in Creative Commons License, Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0. The full text of this license may be found here: CC by-sa 4.0
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When re-using this resource, please attribute as follows: developed by the University of British Columbia: Digital Tattoo – Case Studies Project Team.

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