In my earlier years, it was hard for me imagine any one of my teachers as anything else other than a teacher. If I, or any of my classmates, had seen a teacher outside of school, for example, in the grocery store or shopping mall, it was a strange and exciting event that would be a big topic at school the next day. Maybe, as young inexperienced students, we felt that way because teachers did not seem like “normal” people – they were a different level. The fact that they taught us things we did not know somehow put them above everyone else. Kind of like our parents.
We learn a lot from our teachers and they have a huge impact on society, whether they know it or not. Even many years after finishing school, I still remember things some of my teachers told me as early back as the 2nd grade. Most people can say that something a teacher said to them stuck with them years later.
Teachers have such a critical role in society that, in recent years, the General Teaching Council for England approved a Code of Conduct for teachers. This outlines what kind of behavior a teacher should have that would be in the best interest of students, as well as, encourages teachers to act responsibility and with integrity.
Of course it is unreasonable to expect a teacher from any society or class to be a perfect, model citizen. Teachers are just as human as the next person – they have personal lives and lead adult lifestyles, naturally. However, they are encouraged, and many even feel pressured, to act a certain way outside of school hours. The concern is that since students are easily influenced by teachers, if a student spotted a teacher outside of school acting irresponsibly, the student will likely feel encouraged to copy that behavior.
Another area of concern is social networking. Social networking sites have made it very easy to access other people’s personal information and photos, depending on privacy settings. If a teacher isn’t careful about what kind of information and photos they post to their personal pages on social networking sites, they could inadvertently have a negative influence on any number of students.
One of the hardest things a teacher might have to deal with is finding the right balance between what kind of personal information they disclose to students and what they keep private. And in order to keep certain things private, the teacher has to consider where and when they want to enjoy certain activities sensibly.