Documentation:Digital Tattoo Teacher Blogger

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During the summer of 2017, the Digital Tattoo project team is collaborating with students and others on the development of case study scenarios for use in seminars in teacher education programs.

Learning Outcomes

Workshop participants have the opportunity to:

  • build their confidence for decision-making about posting and sharing content online.
  • practice using guidelines and resources to support decision-making.
  • reflect on and discuss the multiple perspectives at play in each scenario and the implications for themselves as beginning teachers.


Teachers' digital identities and reputations are impacted by the perceptions of others.

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:

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

Blogger on Laptop.jpg

Sarah has recently begun her first contract as a certified teacher at a high school in Vancouver. 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 onTiktok. The blog and Tiktok accounts have helped her track her own fitness progress, while also connecting her with clients and others 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 as well. 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 completing her first practicum in the College of Education, Sarah’s friend Ali, who was student teaching at the same school, had encouraged Sarah to make the blog and Tiktok 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, Ali believed that the videos of Sarah working out 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 Tiktok 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 Tiktok videos in the computer lab at lunch. The students were looking at her videos and reading aloud some of the comments on her posts, in which her followers make reference to her physical appearance, saying things 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. Removing the blog or making it private would make it much more difficult for Sarah to grow her following as a fitness coach, and the comments are an important part of her blog, as they allow her to communicate with her followers and find new clients. 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 professional goals.

Discussion Questions

1. Based on the resources below, how might Sarah’s blog and Tiktok account violate social media policies and/or the standards for educators in BC?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • The Social Media Policy is the second policy in this document.
  • Note: This is a draft policy, and has yet to be updated or officially implemented by Vancouver School Board.

2. How might Sarah respond in this situation? How could she address the situation with her students? Would you recommend that she make any changes to her blog and/or Tiktok account? Can her reputation as a teacher be negatively affected by the comments others have made on her social media accounts?

Consider these resources as you answer:

  • Read "Know Your Rights and Responsibilities."
  • Read "Minimizing the Risks: Advice to Members."

3. In the third paragraph, Ali 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?

Consider these resources as you answer:

4. In what ways does your digital identity reflect any personal or professional interests that you have outside of teaching? Do you monitor these aspects of your 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 as you answer:

  • Read "Blog On" on pg. 19

Additional Resources

If time allows, explore these additional resources:

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

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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What questions did this case study raise for you from your perspective? Please share in the comment box below.