I have a moral dilmma regarding a student.

And I’m just a little curious. How old are you, and how old is the “kid”

Ask him if he’s ever put his arts on the web. Voila.

As a formerly smart, long-haired, hippy kid, I would not tell him that you saw it. I would encourage him to do everything that you can (the submittal idea is great) but not tell him. If you do, he will likely think that you are either flirting, stalking, or obsessed with him. That is not a good idea in my opinion. In so doing you lose your position of authority as a teacher and become an even greater object of ridicule which is truly unfortunate.

If it really starts to bug you ask him after class about his website. But don’t bring it up so bluntly. Exposition is the key. Tell him something like “another student says you have a website that is devoted to your art, is that true? I would be interested in seeing it if you would like to show me.” If he says no in any shape or form, don’t tell him that you found it already. Just say something along the lines of, “I understand.”

I think your concern is a little silly, frankly. Anything on the web is public, by definition. What is this weird distinction you make between the web and “real life”? I mean, for someone to put up a website and then be “creeped out” because someone they know actually looks at it would be like a person talking loudly on their cell phone in a public place and then getting upset because someone nearby is listening.

Oh, wait, people do that, don’t they?

Never mind; changing mores.

Seriously, I would agree that the best course is to look up (I’ll die before I use “google” as a verb, sorry) every student (or some large random sample), and then just work the website(s) into the curriculum.

As a fellow teacher, I think we need to continually tread a fine line between caring about our pupils and having an unprofessional interest in them.

Your original post contained (bolding mine):
‘Teacher aren’t supposed to have favorites, of course, but I have a chronic weakness for super-smart long haired hippy boys who listen to me.’

This is not the sort of thing that you want to have brought up at your annual review with the Head, or at a meeting with his parents.
I realise there’s nothing going on, but it gives the impression that there is (or might be).

I think previous posters have given good advice, and your doubts show that you will do the right thing. :slight_smile:

For the benefit of non-teachers, who haven’t experienced the authority/inspirational friendship dichotomy of the teacher-pupil relationship*, imagine if a teacher phoned your child at home, saying “Oh, the phone number is publically available.”
Right, and the phone number of that teacher’s Head (or the cops) is also publically available…

I once had a 16 year old female pupil (I’m male) ask my advice. She’d just transferred from an all-girl convent school, and was worried that she wouldn’t make new friends, especially amongst the boys.
As she was intelligent (with model-class looks), I foresaw no such problem.
Just like the Terminator, a menu list ran thru my mind:

  1. ‘You’ll have to beat the boys off with a stick’
  2. ‘I’m sure you will be OK. Just be yourself and take your time.’
  3. ‘Let me be your friend :eek: **.’

1 + 3 were instantly dropped, and response 2 worked fine.

*OK, this proves I’m a teacher!

**MandaJo, this is your equivalent:
‘So, rather naturally, I put in this kid’s name.’

I must admit I disagree wholeheartedly with those Dopers here who proclaim that it would be creepy to tell this young person that you Google’d his name.

This is the Internet and a kid this age has grown up with an ENTIRELY different paradigm inside his brain. There are levels of permissable access and ** Manda Jo** has not crossed any lines, violated any privacy tenets or done anything creepy.

She shows a level of caring and comittment in a healthy way that is frankly so damned rare in the teaching profession these days that instead of vilifying her, we all should encourage her.

As was mentioned above, this young man used his own name. Do any of us really think that he’s ignorant of Google? That if he put his real name up on his web site, that he COULD be Googled? That for a person to do so of their own volition speaks of a certain sense of personal security and self awareness?

For all of those creative kids who are’t the captain of the football team or the captain of the soccer team, who have things in their minds they are dying to share with their peers but haven’t the cojones yet to GO TO MANDA JO and say, " Uh, I’ve got some drawing stuff I mess with and I know you edit this literary magazing here at school, do you just like ever put stuff in there as art to balance out the written stuff? ", the Internet is a gift.

Has anyone except me considered the fact that this kid is DYING to find out that Manda Jo has seen his site? Either by Googling, or by being told by one of his friends, " Hey, Ms. Manda, Chad over there’s got this awesome web site that he built, filled with cool drawings, here’s the address".

Don’t be in such a hurry to burn out, please. My wife has college kids come in to her room ( she teaches music, grades 3=5 ) and hug her and say, " I’m a Theatre Arts Major, and I never forgot how I learned to love to sing from you, THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH". To this day, I can name my two mentors from Jr. High who sparked the love of filmmaking in my heart.

Perhaps if you are concerned about being an “adult” who has seen his web site, you can mention to him that, yanno, folks have seen your stuff on the web and talked about it and I saw some of your drawing works. Very fine stuff, would you be willing to offer me a few pieces for the Literary Magazine, and therefore publish someplace else in addition to publishing on the Net?

Good luck, let us know how it pans out please? Hating football isn’t the point, loving the kids in a great healthy focused way is the point. You’re a great teacher.


Manda Jo, I’m with the others who have cautioned against telling the kid that you found his website. If he wants you to see it, he’ll tell you about it on his own.

Your heart may be in the right place, but as someone in a position of authority, you need to be extra careful. Sometimes even the appearance of impropriety can get you fired thanks to our litigious society. You’ve admitted you have a soft spot for him, which is absolutely normal. But googling a student’s name, or driving by his house, or going through his student records (not saying you did any of the latter), is crossing the line of professional distance. Just as it would be inappropriate for a male teacher to take a fondness for a young student and act on it in any way. It’s the sex/power thing.

If you have a really good reason for doing this (e.g. you suspect he is suicidal), that’s different. But curiosity is simply not a good enough reason, IMO.


I think the issues you are considering, to tell or not to tell, to google, or not to google, are ordinary questions that most teachers deal with at some point.

The more experience you gain, the more clearly you will be able to see the issue.
I will not answer the question for you. Your answer is the only answer that really matters. I think that it is good that you have considered this issue thoughtfully and carefully. The category in which this question fits, is an important one.
Good luck.

Manda JO - my $.02:

  • I have always found your posts to be well thought out, measured, and on point. This leads me to believe that you have a balanced perspective. So while there are a number of interpretations that other posters have offered regarding Googling a student (well now, doesn’t that sound great?), I am more than inclined to take your action on face value. I have benefitted from your insights many times in the past.

  • The basic message from posters, and I tend to agree, is: “if you wish to pursue helping this kid, don’t start by singling him out when discussing how you came across his art.” A number of options have been offered, e.g., ask the class who has sites, indicate you googled all the kids (and do so ahead of time), broach the topic of net etiquette as a means to get the kids to volunteer their site’s existence. Whatever.

  • After that, let the kid manage how much attention he allows his art to get. Once you establish the existence of his site, you can compliment him, maybe suggest that his art is “worth sharing” (however you want to phrase it) and leave it at that. Anything more would probably come across as intrusive.

Thank you Manda JO for investing as much of your time, energy and thought into your kids as you do. In this day and age, it is harder to do so, and yet that much more important.

It’s been four and a half years since I gave up teaching college, so I really don’t know what today’s kids feel about adults Googling them. (I take it for granted that Googling each other is pretty natural for kids now.) I think I’d attempt a conversational ploy of some sort that would give him positive reasons to be the one to mention his website or his artwork to you first.

I have to disagree with the notion that just because one puts up a Website, one wants the world, and especially all parts of one’s IRL world, to know what’s on it. The Web’s an absolutely huge place, and if you’ve got your own personal site, there’s little reason to think that anyone you know is going to find it unless you point them there, or unless they know you well enough to have reason to look. It’s the (presumed) anonymity of being in a crowd.

Manda, another former university instructor here. Do Not mention this incident. With the current, incredibly touchy environment in universities regarding instructor/student relationships, you are setting yourself up for some serious potential trouble.

Just as an example, I got called on the carpet for having an ex-student (who’d passed my class over a year previously) babysit while my wife and I went out. It’s thin ice, and though it doesn’t necessarily make sense, it’s the way it is.

You know, Manda Jo, I’m sure your intentions are honorable as all get-out but I just reread this line:

“teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites, of course, but I
have a chronic weakness for super-smart long haired hippy boys who listen to me.”

Now I am imagining what I would do if one of my daughter’s high school teachers had said, about her:

“teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites, of course, but I
have a chronic weakness for super-smart long haired nerdy girls who listen to me.”

Answer: I would have been down the hall having a chat with the principal in less time than it takes to type this. Not to get the teacher fired, but to get the teacher talked to.

More than anything it’s the “long haired” that gives me the creeps. I don’t want to hear that a teacher is paying attention to physical characteristics of their students in acquiring a weakness for them. Comprendo? Tell me you have a weakness for smart kids and I wouldn’t take it the wrong way.

I do teach, by the way, though it is not the main part of my occupation, and I know that you have to keep not just the facts but the appearances spotless. It is a sad thing that any sign of interest in a student can be misinterpreted, but that’s the world we are living in teachers - and parents - have to deal with it.

Gloomy Gus,
Fifteen Iguana

It’s not right for someone to search names of people you know on google. What if you found something out about his family, like maybe his dad was a convicted murderer? What would you do then? I’m sure that it would only be human nature, no matter how hard you tried, you’d treat him different.
Don’t mention it to him, although asking if he has any hobbies is acceptable.

It seems to me that you’re making this more complicated than it needs to be–and following suggestions to make some sort of class-assignment scheme or elaborate cover-story or whatnot is definitely not the way to repair the bit of problem. (“This kite string is sort of snarled up! Quick, wad it together!”)

Simplify. Mention to him that you came across the site, and that if he’d like to, he might want to submit some of that art to the school lit journal. Don’t make a production of it, just mention it, or don’t.

I know I would’ve been creeped out if some teacher told me she’d been looking at my website back when I was in high school. Unless, as everyone else says, she was a babe.

I side with Drastic in that it’s not too big of a deal. I had a few teachers who took an interest in me during the high school years and was frequently asked about my non-school life. I took this as to be a really nice gesture and still think about these folks regularly (that not forgetting about you students thing, it works both ways).

I’m sure at one point or another said teachers knew something about me that I sure as hell didn’t tell them, but I never thought of them as psychopathic stalker material. However, if I were to find out that one of them conducted elaborate schemes to, in essence, get me to confess to something (e.g. having a website), my opinion would definitely change.

Additionally, in my experience there’s an offensively disproportionate amount of crappy apathetic teachers. Thus regarding the ethics of this whole thing, my line of thinking is that not encouraging a student (talented or otherwise) is a far greater transgression than looking at his website.

I have an artistic website. If one of my professors came to me and said he/she liked it, I would be freaked out because the url of my website is virtually unknown to anyone but me. In that way, it IS private. Imagine someone coming up to you and saying, “Hey, I REALLY enjoyed your diary. Good writing!” I know a website isn’t exactly private like a diary, but he might not be expecting people to visit his site. It may be more for him than for other people.

How about emailing him anonymously (assuming his website contains his email address)? Get one of those hotmail/yahoo accounts and just say, “good job”. Or nominate his site for a web award. These are ways to encourage him without announcing your identity and making a big deal out it.

Manda JO, I think the level of concern you show is a GOOD thing. Too bad it is taken for granted in today’s society. Hope you can hack it long term – burnout ain’t just rocket science, ya know.

I agree with the others who said that you shouldn’t mention how you found his site. But I wouldn’t give any kind of explanation about it, either. That just makes it seem like you have some motive for making it seem like you found it innocently. Just don’t give an explanation. Tell him you saw the site and you that his stuff showed talent, and leave it at that.
When the time comes to enter this contest, ask him if he’d like to enter. And that’s it. Don’t blow it up any bigger than that.

I don’t think a lot of teenagers today are used to the thought of adults surfing the 'net; their parents usually don’t know anything about it, so they assume ALL adults are clueless the same way. This kid needs to know that, yes, you are an adult who knows him and found his personal website, BUT that’s nothing to get excited about. You can convey this message adequately through your demeanor alone.

Besides, how do ya know he isn’t a Doper? :wink:

I think a coupla posters are making too big a deal out of:

When I was teaching college, there were certain students who I did take special notice of, though I think I did a good job of concealing that fact. And surprise - most of them were female.

This happens. When we’re dealing with people past a certain age (the kid’s probably 16), sexual polarity is part of the interaction. It’s what you do with that, that matters. When I was teaching, I was aware of its natural effect on me, and did my best to keep it invisible. Just like I do with my colleagues at work nowadays. If there’s any similarity between Manda JO here, and her IRL persona, I’m sure she does the same.

Manda JO mentioned her predilection here, where she assumed herself to be in an among-friends environment. If she’d said this in the staff room, then the accusations would fly. :wink:

This is a complete side issue, but:

Then count me among the habitual wrongdoers. :rolleyes:

Bump City- MandaJo, how did you resolve it, both internally and externally? Inquiring minds want to know. :slight_smile:

The next time you stand before your class and hold up a dog-eared copy of “Wuthering Heights” in one hand, and a dog-eared copy of “MAD Magazine” in the other, we want to know about it here !!! :stuck_out_tongue: