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What do people see when they search for you online?

You need to check commonly used sites such as Google and Facebook, but first you must decide what is appropriate and acceptable now that you are becoming an education professional. You need to consider what constitutes a ‘professional image’ and how much personal information/data it is sensible to reveal. Try to think about this from the point of view of other education professionals and members of school communities, including children and parents, who may be searching for the information.

The UK Safer Internet Centre publishes clear advice on materials and actions that can have a negative effect on your online presence and wider reputation, such as inappropriate comments, photos and affiliations. Remember that an online search will reveal connections to individuals and groups as well as information directly about you.

Action: Help Ben choose the profile image for his new university email account. The image will appear on every email he sends to friends on the course, lecturers and school staff when he starts his placements. Consider the pros and cons of each image, then click on each one to find out what the implications could be.

  1. This is not a good choice as it presents you in an unprofessional light and, by implication, the teaching profession. Avoid images of you drinking alcohol or engaging in behaviour that could be perceived as anti-social. Images such as this have resulted in students having to leave university education courses and teachers losing their jobs.
  2. This is an acceptable choice, but rather boring. It’s certainly a safe image to use, but it doesn’t communicate any positive aspects of your personality or interests.
  3. This is a great choice as it shows that you have interests outside formal education that enhance your ability to be a positive role model. It’s great to show something of your personality as it helps others to see you as a real person. A word of warning though: avoid controversial activities. For example activities involving revealing or skimpy clothing, implied rowdy behaviour or perceived political or moral issues.
  4. You could choose a simple or even abstract image to represent you. This can be a sensible choice as you maintain some anonymity. Make sure the image has neutral or positive connotations. You could chose an image related to one of your interests such as a musical instrument that you play, the club badge of your favourite sports team or a favourite view or holiday destination.

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