Smile Teacher, You’re on YouTube!

An RCWP colleague and friend, Heather Lewis, posted this message to the RCWP listserv last week:

I found this article interesting. Part of me is like: I shouldn’t do anything in my class I wouldn’t want broadcast.

But then part of me is like: Hey, they’re taking things out of context and slanting the information..

Thoughts. Ideas.

Got me thinking… and here is my response to the list:

Hi Heather,

I agree with you on both of the ideas you share, for sure. Case in point — the photos of me in this week’s RCWP newsletter. I knew that some people where taking pictures (mainly because I saw the cameras), but these look like ones snapped with a cell phone, of which I was not aware. Of course, there is nothing for me to be embarrassed about in this situation [they missed the part where I picked my nose, I suppose 😉 ], but it reminded me of how quickly and easily photos and videos can be shared now.

So, in some sense, I know that when I am teaching, I have a “filter” on. Even if it isn’t a photo or a video, I teach in a computer lab, and I know that a student could email, blog, wiki, facebook or tweet about whatever I say or do. Given CMU’s current state of contract negotiations between the faculty and the administration, I am *extra* careful whenever students ask me about anything related to that during class time. Even those times when I used to feel free to share personal writing or admit to the fact that I wasn’t quite clear about a concept or an interpretation of a text, I do take the mental pause of thinking… where and how could what I am saying and doing be shared out of context. “Oh, look at that liberal professor admitting that he doesn’t totally understand the concept of warrants in the logic of argumentation…”

Of course, this type of monitoring used to happen all the time merely through notes, gossip, and PTA meetings (whoops… did I just say that?). Now, it is just faster and the “evidence” of what you said or did is more accessible and permanent. In this case, should the band teacher or cheerleading coach be embarrased for what they did? Probably not, because we all do humorous things to get attention. Should the yellers and jabbers be embarrased? Probably. However, have we all had moments, as the article states, that are “regrettable moments of a teacher pushed to the breaking point.” I know I have. At least they haven’t been caught on tape. Not yet, at least.

So, does it scare me that these moments could now be on YouTube? Yes, a little bit.

But, they are a natural part of teaching.

I hope that the years of positive student comments can outweigh one regretable moment on YouTube, if it ever happened.

I will take the risk and keep teaching.

Thanks for sharing this article.


So, I repeat Heather’s original query: Thoughts. Ideas.

I look forward to hearing from all of you and thank you again for your kind words about the Fries Award.

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One thought on “Smile Teacher, You’re on YouTube!”

  1. This is such an interesting concept these days that teachers can be “stars” in a very negative light. This very thing happened in N.C. where a teacher was “caught” sounding derogatory about a 5th grader’s choice and reason for supporting Mr. McCain for president. Again, it was taken out of context. And this was a 5th grade class. It is a sad state of affairs when teaches can’t use humor in their classroom for fear of being taken out of context and ending up on YouTube. My question to the administrators of these schools: Why are your students carrying cell phones to their classes?

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