As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on student privacy.
As a unique educator in that the 2,500 students that attend the public high school that I work at are all “mine” since I work in the library means that any given program, activity, class project, or visitation could mean meeting a student I have never met before or that has never come to the library before. It also means that at the beginning of the school year I haven’t sent home a photo release form from our school to post or not post images of my one class or multiple classes that I have direct contact with if I was a classroom teacher. With that in mind, as I do for my own elementary-aged children, I do not want my own kids’ images plastered on social media for the sake of capturing an exciting educational moment unless it protects their privacy or I have given permission. That’s where creative camera work comes into play.
Many of my favorite memorable moments from programming in the library have been avoiding students’ faces and focusing on the atmosphere or activity. Now, I’m not saying I’m Dorothea Lange, but I know my way around my iPhone camera to capture the moment without student faces. Yes, I have them, but they’re not the ones that get shared. This is important. It’s also why I teach Googling your name and do so often with my and my family’s name to see what is out there. This is an element of digital citizenship that people must get out in front of, even if it’s simply to know what’s out there. We must be aware of what it out there attached to our identity or others that have similar or the same name. It can take the form of a picture or simply your name or your affiliated institution.
Ultimately though, it is as much our responsibility as educators as students and their parents to be sure that they can control what and where they can. So, here are some examples from our own social media postings where we avoid showing student faces. For us, it’s about angles, light, or putting teachers in the foreground.