Searching For TeachersHeather Spohr
Should it be off-limits to Google your children’s teachers? Recently my friend Ali mentioned on Twitter and Facebook that she was going to do just that, and a number of people cried foul. This lead to a lively debate over whether Googling a teacher was an invasion of the teacher’s privacy or a parent’s right, but if you ask me the answer’s pretty clear – teachers should expect to be Googled.
Nowadays, when parents are considering a doctor, dentist, or babysitter for their kid, one of the first things they do is Google them to learn more. You can bet I spent a lot of time online researching prospective doctors before I took Madeline or Annabel to see them. I read patient reviews, perused their websites, and clicked on any other prominent web presences. And, if after doing that I felt confident that they were the right person to care for my kids, I made an appointment. Frankly, I don’t see how teachers are any different. They may not be in charge of the medical care for our kids and I may not be directly paying them, but they are in charge of something very important – my child’s education and well-being. Even more, whereas our kids rarely spend more than a few minutes with their doctor, they spend hundreds of hours in the presence of their teachers.
Since my husband, Mike, is a credentialed teacher, I asked his thoughts on this. He was quiet a moment, mulling it over, then said that, while it is a bit scary to picture sixty parents scouring the Internet for information, it is to be expected these days. He went on to say that, like vitals.com (which rates and reviews doctors), there already are websites like RateMyTeachers that do the same thing for teachers. There are even school districts that have similar systems.
Of course, I would hope that parents would be responsible with the information they find online and be respectful of the teachers’ private lives. I would personally just be searching for information about disciplinary tactics, work load, personality – the things I would need to know to be a well-engaged and active partner in my child’s education. Nevertheless, everyone in this day and age needs to be aware that their online presence is going to be used by others to get a sense of who they are. I have never put anything online that I am not okay with having out there, and I understand that people may form an initial opinion of me based on what Google drudges up. Teachers need to be aware of this, too.
My daughter is only two-and-a-half, so there are a few years until I will actually be googling her educators. What do you think? Am I off-base? Or do parents have a right to know more about who their kids are spending their days with?