August 29 12

Sometimes I change my status updates on Facebook or I tweet something out and instead of it being ignored, responded to, favorited or whatever the cool kids are doing these days, the responses end up going in a direction I did not intend or could have even predicted. Remember that time I wrote a funny little status update about my van slowly centimeter-ing its way down the driveway? I mean, to me, the entire scene was hilarious. I was in my house and my car—that was turned off!—was moving, albeit slooooowly, down the driveway. Seeing as there was really nothing I could do about it, I social media-d it. I *am* a blogger, you know—it’s really what any decent one of us would have done.


But then the responses came in—and I was shocked by how un-hilarious people found it. I got comments and tweets and even emails telling me how irresponsible and unsafe I was. Irresponsible? Unsafe? I was in my home and my car was moving—the actually only unsafe thing I could probably do is go outside to my car. But, you know, people are quick to jump on me. I’m actually not really even sure why—maybe it’s because I’m only funny some of the time? You see, funny people? Their tweets and Facebook status updates are understood. My tweets and Facebook status updates? NOT SO MUCH.

Dear Ali, stop trying to be funny.

The other day I tweeted something and was a little surprised—again—at the direction the responses went.

That’s such an invasion of privacy, Ali!

I can’t believe you do that, Ali. That’s gross. 

Wow, I hope she’s googling you too. 

That’s crossing a line, I think. 

Um. I’m glad I’m not YOUR kid’s teacher. 

How would *you* feel if they were at home googling you now?

Really? Unless there was a serious concern for safety or something, I would never Google students or their families.

I teach my HS students about the balance of can and should as it relates to SM etiquette, prof vs personal. #justmyopinion 🙂


I was not expecting this response at all.


Honestly, I don’t really feel the need to defend my social media actions or my real-life actions, but, well, for the sake of a little background here, I will tell you this. My three kids will be going to a brand-new school next year. It’s across the street from our house (major win, I’d say), sure, but I don’t know a single other parent in the school, I don’t know the administration, I don’t know any of the teachers. I will be sending my three young children—who are just 11, 9, and 7—to spend the hours between nine in the morning and three in the afternoon with strangers; people I know absolutely not a single thing about.

In years past—when my kids went to a school where I knew many parents, faculty members, kids, and teachers—the verymoment I found out the name of a child’s teacher, I’d ask around. “Hey person who I know very well! Have any of your kids had Ms. First? What do you know about her? Is she tough? Sweet? Young? Old? Did your kids love her? Learn a lot from her? Did she push your child or did she allow your child to do the pushing? Does she give a lot of homework? Does she give a lot of feedback? Does she intervene in social situations?”

These seem like normal questions. It’s nice to get a sense of a teacher going in. I know that every kid has a different experience with every teacher. I have seen this first-hand. A teacher might be the perfect, snug fit for my daughter, but not a great match-up for my son. You can never tell. Ever.


I think it’s nice to know a little bit in advance. I don’t care what Ms. First does on the weekends with her friends. I don’t care if Ms. First drives a Honda. I don’t care if she goes to a cottage, where she buys her groceries, what reality tv she likes to watch.

I’m not looking for DIRT; I’m looking for information.

I’m not looking for PERSONAL information; I’m looking for PROFESSIONAL information. 

How many years has she been teaching? Does she have any advance degrees? Has she ever won any teaching awards? Does she have a speciality? Where did she go to college? Do people think she’s an okay teacher, a good teacher, a great teacher?


Does she drink white or red wine? Does she wear skinny jeans? What street does she live on? Has she ever inhaled? Does she watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? 


So, yes, I did try to make that status a funny one, something I thought people would get a good giggle out of. I mean, in my head it was funny. (Maybe I’m just not funny.)

And yes, I did google their names—I make absolutely NOT A SINGLE apology for this. With no warm-blooded, real-life person around me to ask and with the world at my googling fingertips, why shouldn’t I? Why WOULDN’T you? To me, it seems like the more responsible to thing to do.

These are my children I’m looking out for—my three most important treasures, my entire world.

But you can go ahead and think that it’s gross.



  1. Did you find what your were looking for?

    As I’m on the other side of the desk come parent teacher conferences, I checked myself out. Nothing. Well, 2 photos that I didn’t know would pop-up. Exactly why I don’t use my full name in social media very often.

    Comment by Heather on August 29, 2012
  2. I Google just about everyone I come across in life. My dentist, my doctor, every pediatrician I considered selecting (for 2013, oy), new coworkers, old coworkers. Just like you I’m not looking for anything salicious- I’m going to skip over anything about the 5ks they run or the nature club they are the vice president for. What am I looking for? A LinkedIn profile, Yelp (or similar depending on the industry) reviews, etc. I fully expect people to Google me too. They will find my wedding photos, my LinkedIn profile and some professional speaking engagement blurbs. Just the kind of stuff they *should* find.

    Comment by Daisy on August 29, 2012
  3. Yes. That’s just the thing…professionals? I’m gonna google them. For professional details—not juicy details. LinkedIn and Yelp kind of stuff…exactly.

    and yes, when I have applied for jobs in the past…I just plain assume that they WILL google me. And I’m okay with that. I put my information out there, yanno?

    Comment by ali on August 29, 2012
  4. I found the tweet rather amusing and given my love of doing the same sort of thing didn’t think anything wrong of it. As a matter of fact, I would be surprised in the least that I’ve had parents do the same thing to me, which is one of the reasons I DO have some of the security measures on FB – not that I have anything to hide, but I just don’t need my entire life out there! Thankfully I changed my name when I got married, because believe me, what people would find under my maiden name would make people blush – if they didn’t take the time to figure out IT ISN’T ME, but a “chosen” name of an exotic star. 😉
    BTW, did you check Ontario College of Teachers site? You can search the teacher’s name and get their educational background, as well as a list of any additional qualifications they have taken.

    Comment by Amanda on August 29, 2012
  5. The very first thing I did when the slip of paper with my daughter’s kindergarten teacher came in the mail was to look him up. I don’t know any other parents, things about the school or ways to get the little details. We have the information at our fingertips. Why not be prepared? Why not find out that he is the literacy board advisory for the school (win!) and that he’s been there 25 years (whoa!)?

    There is nothing wrong with searching professionally. When you start to learn that their cat’s name is Fluffy and they only drink 1% milk in their coffee, then you’ve crossed the line.

    Comment by Jayna @ Yankee Drawl on August 29, 2012
  6. Yeah. As far as my kids are concerned, I really only care what they are doing during working hours. Heh.

    Comment by ali on August 29, 2012
  7. I saw that tweet. My first thought was actually, wow, we don’t find out our teachers till next week.
    I come from a family of teachers (my parents, my cousins, my grandpa) and a lot of my friends went into teaching.
    It’s a profession. Where you are around kids. Expect to be searched on social media.
    I don’t mean to sound harsh, but really. It’s like any other job. I get googled and searched on social media all the time because of my job, and I’m not around kids all day.
    I’m not suggesting I need to know if my kids’ teachers are married, have 6 kids, etc. But, I would like to know if there’s anything questionable out there.
    Also – just saying – it works both ways. Teachers are more than welcome to google me – and possibly do. They have all of my info.
    I mean, there’s a reason that we can lock our facebook profiles or limit what we say about ourselves.

    Comment by Laural on August 29, 2012
  8. Anyone who still thinks info posted online falls under the category of private is fooling themselves. If they don’t have their Facebook settings set to keep things private then they obviously don’t care about their personal information getting out. I don’t think it’s wrong at all to want to find out information about someone who is going to be spending time with your child. And, like many others here, I often google professionals who I am going to come in contact with because it helps me make decisions on where to go to the doctor or dentist, what gymnastics club to take my children to, etc. etc.

    Comment by Shannon on August 29, 2012
  9. I read that tweet yesterday and laughed, because last year I found out that one of my teacher’s kids had googled ME! It’s unfortunate that I share the same name as a famous fashion designer but you know… I guess that’s why the teacher looked at me funny when I showed up in yoga pants and a ponytail. 🙂

    I would totally do the same thing Ali, in fact… I have.

    Comment by Eileen on August 29, 2012
  10. Wait…you aren’t a fashion designer?

    Comment by ali on August 29, 2012
  11. My dear, I haven’t even set foot in the store that bears my name. I’d love to though and see if they notice the name on my bank card 🙂

    Comment by Eileen on August 29, 2012
  12. I fully expect that, when being considered for a job, my potential employees will google me. I am the one paying the teacher’s salary and I am also entrusting him/her with the two most important people in my life.

    You bet I googled. It’s 2012; if they don’t expect that by now, I really don’t care.

    Comment by karengreeners on August 29, 2012
  13. That would be, *employers.*

    Typos make me crazy.

    Comment by karengreeners on August 29, 2012
  14. …and this is why I was so surprised that there were so many negative responses. I mean.

    Comment by ali on August 29, 2012
  15. I had no idea you got such backlash.

    My kids’ teachers all read my BLOG, and I’m Facebook friends with many of them. I could Google the others, but we live in a small town. There’s no need to. 😉

    Comment by Angella on August 29, 2012
  16. Haha. Don’t you know by now…I always get backlash. 🙂

    Comment by ali on August 29, 2012
  17. I just don’t get WHY. I know you, and I think you’re rather lovey. Can’t wait to see you again in October. 🙂

    Comment by Angella on August 29, 2012
  18. Ohh…I responded to your status update by saying that I’m glad I have a generic name that can’t be Googled. I am a teacher, I don’t want to be Googled. I want my personal and professional life to remain separate.

    I have to say, though, that your Googling your kids’ teachers does not offend me. I have nothing to hide, I just prefer it stay out of site (which then makes me wonder why I have anything online?).

    Comment by kel on August 29, 2012
  19. Exactly. It’s up to you what you put out there.
    I put lots out there, but I’m okay with people finding it.
    There are privacy settings for a reason. 🙂

    But just know…I’m not looking for private information—just the professional.

    Comment by ali on August 29, 2012
  20. Seriously? I kinda think those people who were mean to you are probably hypocritical! If they are on facebook or twitter, I’m pretty sure they’ve been checking people out too at one time or another! This is the information age after all, what do they expect? I thought it was funny… I think pretty much everything you say is funny. The girl with a BLAWG was googling information on people she’s never met? No. Way. 🙂 They need to get over themselves.

    Comment by nicole on August 29, 2012
  21. So, now there is some kind of social “rule” that you aren’t supposed to look up as MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE about those who are teaching or looking after your kids? If you sent your kid to a new day care you’d try and find out as much information as possible about the company and any caretakers, why is school any different?

    If it’s available online it’s public information. I won’t hack into someone’s email account or anything, but I absolutely will look into anything else that doesn’t require hack skills.


    Comment by heidikins on August 29, 2012
  22. I think you’re totally in the right, wanting to find out professional information on new teachers, in a new school. Honestly I thought the backlash was a bit out of line. To call it Gross? Whatever.

    Comment by monstergirlee on August 29, 2012
  23. I google everything and everyone that I am interested in. Additionally, I facebook search them. I just cannot believe that those commenters REALLY DON’T google people. You know they do – they just didn’t write a twitter update about it. It isn’t like phone tapping, people. It is part of normal, everyday life now. How many times have we been told to be careful because employers routinely google during hiring decisions? It is what people do.

    Comment by Laura on August 29, 2012
  24. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that why social media was created? I pulled my kids out of a charter and sent them to our local public school this year. I know nothing about the teachers or really about the school, except that my neighbors say it’s great. I haven’t googled the girls teachers, but if I had thought about it, I may have.

    Comment by Issa on August 29, 2012
  25. I thought it was funny. And I would have done the same thing. When I replied that they are probably doing the same thing to you, I thought it was funny because I imagined them doing it as you wrote that tweet and them seeing that as they were Googling you, who were Googling them. HA!

    I have friends who are teachers. And they Google themselves to see what is out there. One, to make sure nothing bad is out there and two to see what parents see.

    It’s a digital age we live in. There is nothing wrong with it.

    Comment by Kristabella on August 29, 2012
  26. Of COURSE you Googled the teachers! Your *child* is going to be in that person’s presence, and somewhat under their influence, for a big chunk of the day for 180 days!

    Comment by cristan on August 29, 2012
  27. So back to the first commenters question, what did you find? I was wondering the same thing.

    Setting aside the googling as good vs evil debate. It does seem a strange and invasion thing to do for a teacher specifically to me. But I’ll try and put some thoughtful explanation behind that.

    My gut would tell me that you’re not going to find the types of personality/technique/discipline scoop you want on any teacher that way. Homework, strictness, etc… Maybe on a high school teacher where the students are commenting or something like that but not on elementary school teachers.

    And if it’s a good school you can assume anyone they hire has the right credentials/education/qualifications so that seems like a non-factor. If they are gainfully employed with a school system then you know they have been background checked and are not known to be a danger to the children in the school.

    So that leaves pretty much only personal stuff. Which is probably why it seemed creepy or invasive to people that you would do it.

    I’m a parent of elementary school kids, and past president of PTA, and what I see happen a lot are parents who want to act as if their child’s teacher is someone they are choosing to do business with. You’re not really (unless I guess you pay for private school, maybe then) but it’s not a consumer relationship. As much as we’d like to be treated like one, parents are not “the customer.” So saying it’s like googling a potential dentist is not the same thing. You cannot simply choose to take your business elsewhere.

    What happens if you find something you didn’t like? Professional or personal? Do you march in on day one and demand your child be moved from the class?

    Comment by Melizzard on August 29, 2012
  28. I don’t think it is an issue of finding information that would help her make any kind of decision about whether she was going to DEMAND the child be moved out of the class or not – rather is is just a curiosity. Personally, when I found out my son’s teacher’s name, I went to the school’s website to see WHAT SHE LOOKED LIKE. Then, I pulled her up on facebook to see further — if she had any kids or whatever. What is the big deal? An example: Last year my son mentioned a teacher that he hoped to get for this year, so I checked her out on facebook and it turned out that she was a huge fan of the football team my son is a fan of, so I mentioned it to him and we talked about how cool it would be if he got her (he didn’t).

    Ali didn’t say anything about DOING ANYTHING with the information – she was just curious. When I read back over her article, I saw the first comment she listed about it being an INVASION OF PRIVACY and I literally laughed out loud. OMG. It is on THE INTERNET. She didn’t LOOK THROUGH HER WINDOWS.

    Comment by Laura on August 29, 2012
  29. In the US, we have loads of teacher rating sites. There’s lots of information about disciplinary tactics, work load, personality, etc. Elementary teachers are included on this – in fact, they are usually the most reliable, because they are filled out by parents.

    I think it’s dangerous to assume that just because a teacher has a job, s/he must be A-OK. Tenure has made it hard for schools to replace bad teachers.

    And if you find something you don’t like, why WOULDN’T you march into the school’s office for a discussion? I don’t understand NOT doing that.

    I say all of this as the wife of a teacher.

    Comment by Heather on August 29, 2012
  30. You’re right there lots of teacher rating sites, but as a point of technicality that’s not what the original twitter comment(or apparent actual actions) describes.

    She mentions a doing a general Google search – Not a search on a site that specializes in teacher performance or student/parent feedback. Had her tweet said “Just found out who the kids teachers are so of course I looked them up on” I don’t think she would have gotten the reaction and the reaction is her post is really about.

    My comment was just simply an opinion that would explain the why someone might have that kind of reaction.

    I take Ali at her word that she meant the tweet to be funny – so it would seem to be that joke lies in her describing the action as “what any normal person would do” to be a bit of self-mocking, in that humor lies in the fact that she knows it might not be normal behavior.

    Comment by Melizzard on August 29, 2012
  31. Wow.

    I apologize if in 140 characters I wasn’t able to tell you exactly what it is—specifically—I was doing with my googling fingers and what part of my tweet was meant to be funny.

    Comment by ali on August 29, 2012
  32. So I guess the “Why WOULDN’T you” question was just supposed to be rhetorical?

    Comment by Melizzard on August 29, 2012
  33. I Google all of my potential employees and I would never apologize for that. It is ridiculous for people to suggest that you cannot utilize a free and public search engine to find out information. That’s what it’s there for. Let me add, that if you did find out disturbing information, all the better. You are trusting another person to look after your children. You should know who they are. As they say in Oz, Good on you!

    Comment by Charna on August 29, 2012
  34. I am baffled thSt anyone questioned you doing that! It’s what most people DO nowadays! I know for sure I’m
    Googled when I apply for jobs. Holy smokes, some people need a chill pill. Also when I sometimes sAy things I find funny – or opinionated – I get people commenting to me who are mean and/or irritated. Whatever.
    Also? If I knew lt son’s teacher’s favourite store was J.Crew that would be awesome information to know! Also? If I saw online somewhere obscene RECENT pictures of her? I’d be questioning things…

    Comment by Loukia on August 29, 2012
  35. Also I’ve had wine tonight so please excuse the typos!

    Comment by Loukia on August 29, 2012
  36. Bravo. I would’ve done the EXACT same thing. I’m curious as to how many of those people googled “Prince Harry’s Nuts” or “Snooki’s Baby” the night before?

    I don’t order pizza without googling their reviews, why would I send my children to a land of unknown? We’re all parents who care, and there’s no harm in that.

    Comment by Aeron on August 30, 2012
  37. Add me to the list of people who Google other people. I’m sorry. If I google you and dirt comes up about you, then you probably haven’t been that careful about what ends up online.

    Last year, my youngest had a teacher who was new to our school. A lot of schools have webpages for each teacher where they can post about homework and activities. I just wanted to find out if she had one. And, thank you Google, I found it. Nothing juicy.

    Ali, if you did find out if they liked red or white wine, that would come in handy for gift giving times of the year!

    Comment by mapsgirl on August 30, 2012
  38. Are you kidding? That backlash is ridiculous. It’s the internet, for pete’s sake! I google anyone I want to and I would never consider it an invasion of privacy! Don’t put something out there if you don’t feel it reflects the kind of person you want to be. If you’re an elementary school teacher who happens to moonlight as an exotic dancer and you tweet about it I’d want to know before I sent my children to you! (Highly unlikely that this would happen, but you see my point.)

    Additionally, I truly believe that if you don’t regularly google yourself to make sure you know what other people are seeing I think you’re doing yourself a disservice. And other people are googling you.

    I’ve removed my last name from a lot of things (goodreads and my amazon public profile just to name a few) because I don’t want everyone reading my reviews of a feminine hygiene product or the latest installment of a tween series I read. 🙂

    It’s called the information age, people.

    Comment by Jessica on August 30, 2012
  39. I am the queen of googling. It has saved my bacon numerous times with respect to online dating – like when I googled a guy’s name and there was a website dedicated to him and how awful he was (with pictures so I knew it was the same guy). It’s 20-freaking-12. I google myself for crying out loud to see what is out there about me! Go for it – some people just need something to bitch and moan about to make their lives seem more significant.

    Comment by Carmen on August 30, 2012
  40. If you are looking for professional information Ali, look no further than the governing body that regulates our profession.
    Then, click find a teacher and you will see all of his/her credentials and education, and how long they have been a teacher.
    I can only imagine a google search would result in millions of fruitless results that aren’t the specific teacher you are looking for.

    Comment by Sandy on August 30, 2012
  41. Thank you so so much! A few people gave me that recommendation and I actually found it through my google searching and it was EXACTLY what I was looking for! 🙂

    Comment by alimartell on August 30, 2012
  42. oh please. People kill me.
    If you had said you were going to google the nice stranger you met at Starbucks this morning, no one would give a shit. But teachers? Whoa, Ali, stop right there. (insert heavvvvvy sarcasm).
    I totally would do the same.
    I saw a shirt today that said ‘I (heart) haters’
    I think you need one.

    Comment by Amy on August 31, 2012
  43. I thought It was funny. I Al

    Comment by Mrs. Wilson on September 1, 2012
  44. WTF, done button? I was not done!!

    I was going to say, I also thought your idea was genius an that I was going to follow suit. I do not know any parents in my girls’ school, either. Looking out for your kids? NOTHING wrong with that.

    Comment by Mrs. Wilson on September 1, 2012
  45. I’m a HS teacher, and I fully expect that people will Google me. It’s why my blog is completely appropriate all the time, why I don’t even have a photo of myself holding a glass of wine and why I behave myself on Twitter (almost always) and Instagram. Common sense. I honestly think it’s a good idea to know who your kids are hanging out with—I never, ever write about work or salacious activity (because I’m not involved in any, but still). If you’re putting it on an open forum online, it’s NOT private, it’s public. The end!

    Comment by Amy on September 1, 2012
  46. Wow. I am a teacher. I would almost be offended if you DIDN’T google me! I totally do research on my own children’s teachers. I also teach my students (high school) to google their own names, and see what comes up. We talk about online reputations, protecting yourself, and being prepared for future employers who most certainly will use google.
    I do not accept friend requests from students, but I remember that nothing is totally private, so I am very VERY careful of what is out there. Good for you for standing your ground!

    Comment by Tammy on September 2, 2012
  47. So weird. It’s SO normal – why wouldn’t you! and who cares if you do find personal information – people need to get a sense of humour.

    Comment by Sara on September 4, 2012
  48. I didnt need to google my son’s teacher. She gave us her twitter handle on meet the teacher night. As I went to introduce myself, she already knew who I was – she reads my blog:

    Comment by DadCAMP on September 11, 2012
  49. […] 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 […]

    Pingback by Searching For Teachers | More Spohr on December 5, 2012
  50. […] Check out how I feel about googling teachers. […]

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