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August 23, 2008



hi alfred - i commend you on your innovative practices and i totally agree that the dichotomy of the private and the professional life is loosing clearity, and hence teachers should be more available for coaching outside the classroom.

I believe you are overstating the point - and in fact might scare good people away - when you say "teaching was considered a 24 hour a day job" and that the way forward looks again like that.

It's true that good teachers feel a "vocation" and are hence dedicated and dont feel they are "sacrificing" their time in turmoil -- nevertheless, i would rather conceptualize it as a inter-play with the students in which there are plenty of spaces which allow for privacy.

what do you think is the right balance between privacy and work?

and do you know examples of best practices / policies or guidelines?

florence meichel

Is an universal answer possible ? I don't think so : everyone has to find his best way, his best balance in his own context !


I think nowadays teacher have the possiblity to interact with their students were they love to be.
They should take advantage of the independence kids have using the internet and give students education in the atmosphere they like. I think this is a much more powerfull way to educate people.


This post is an excellent capture of changing student/teacher relationship in today's web2.0 world. Though full of potential risks/cautions I think the changing education media is definitely a step towards a meaningful relationship - a relationship which spans beyond college or end of traditional education days.

Gabriel Kent

Very useful post.

I believe students will increasingly utilize teachers in their net like they do anyone else... and teachers will interact with their students like they do with anyone else.

Why? Because I believe increasingly the only difference between a student and a teacher is the role they happen to be playing at that time... and to refer to a full-time student or teacher would be on the merits of their reputation, which would represent their individual efforts in those areas.

Why? Because society is growing more transparent, not less.

@Alfred Thompson, do you think it would make more sense to conduct your conversations such that they are logged and available to all? I am thinking of a board that allows students to post questions (in their name or not) and allows you to answer them.

Ultimately, everything is public so filters may be deployed (if using a school login, student names are shown, if provided, otherwise the student's name is changed to just "Student" for safety).

I think this accomplishes the same result but comes with a social advantage; more questions, answers and discussions on topics discussed between teachers and students available for the benefit of those with access to an internet search engine.

In other words, do you think you should Open Source your class activity output (hopefully along with its input)?

Alfred Thompson

Theaching doesn't have to be a 24 hour a day job and I didn't mean to suggest that it should. Teaching at a boarding school is a different thing and is more of a lifestyle decision than is teaching at a day school. I was careful to turn on my exta hours when it was it would still let me have a personal life. I think that reasonable after hours time is a good thing but that moderation is key.

Alfred Thompson

@Gabriel Kent I do like the idea of open conversations. I think that wikis and blogs and threaded discussion forums are all good ways to do that. I also think that there are some value to private conversations as they allow students more freedom to ask questions without exposing themselves to their peers. Even with names hidden students are often able to know who is asking what based on tone and word choices.

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