Teachers, stay safe.

There has been an awful lot posted online about how to keep students safe on the Internet. However, I haven't run into very much focusing on teacher safety. Perhaps we tend to think that, as adults we're savvy enough to avoid online blunders. I thought that about myself until I started doing some research. The following list is by no means comprehensive, but it's a pretty good starting point. Please keep these tips in mind whenever getting on the Internet.

1) People lie.

Ya, I know this one is pretty obvious. Be honest, though. Have you ever forgotten a key piece of information for your class and needed to look it up really quickly? The shape of a molecule? An important date? The difference between affect and effect? Be especially careful when you’re in a rush!

2) Plagiarism sets a bad example.*

Forget about the legal ramifications of plagiarism. OK … just for a second forget about it. Have you ever gone online looking for a picture to use for your PowerPoint? Ever cite your sources? Have you ever copy and pasted quiz questions you’ve found online without telling your students where you got them? Your students will find out. (Mine did.)

3) If you don’t want it on the Internet, don’t put it on the Internet.
I have no idea who first said this, but it’s brilliant. Here’s the big point: Everything you put online for someone else to see can stay there forever. In spite of “privacy settings” there are hundreds of ways to transfer what you have online to some other computer. Even if you delete it, there’s no way of getting rid of it. Think twice before mentioning your school or colleagues.

4) Set your filter to “safe”.
Its true that you’ll be missing out on some good things if you do this. However, you’ll be saving yourself from all of the problems that surround pulling up an inappropriate website. If a student is exposed to a single inappropriate image, you are setting yourself up for uncomfortable discussions.

5) Students don’t have privacy on school computers.
This is a bit of a strange issue. Many students get offended by a teacher looking over their shoulder to see what they’re up to. Many educators seem to buy into this attitude thinking that students should allowed to work largely unsupervised. When students know they’ll be monitored, they tend to stay on task.

So what do you think? Did I miss anything? Do you disagree with anything I’ve written here?

*Thanks to Deb Ng inspiring much of this blog post.