I have been gearing up for change. Next year will be my last year teaching at Pasir Ridge International School (PRIS), located on the island of Borneo. That will complete five superb years serving the students and community here in Balikpapan, Indonesia. The school is owned by Chevron Oil Company and has been managed by International School Services since 1975. It is a great place to work and raise a family and I would recommend this post in a second. It is an honor and privilege to teach at PRIS and work with such a supportive company like Chevron.
If I could stay I would. However, in the ISS contract it stipulates that teachers have a maximum of five years tenure. At first I wondered if that was such a good policy. On average most teachers stay the full five years, and would happily stay longer if permitted. Now after living in this fairly remote location, my family and I are beginning to look forward to the change of venue. Fortunately, knowing our time was limited from the get-go has provided us the opportunity to maximize our time here. We can begin to prepare for the next posting without any hesitation or doubt, unlike other places where teachers might oscillate whether it’s time to leave or stay. The big question now is “Where will we land next? As a family we are having more conversations about where in the world we can contribute to the school and grow professionally and personally. It’s an exciting time.
Even though I have another year to teach at PRIS, I have started updating our resumes. We’re contacting the usual suspects to prepare: Search Associates and ISS and TIE Online. In reading the article Your Online Reputation Can Hurt Your Job Search this week I am gaining a better understanding that my digital footprint and profile (even in remote Borneo) could help or hinder our job search. This could not be more relevant to me right now. Really relevant. In the article Most Companies Use Social Media For Recruiting, John Paul Titlow wrote about a survey, stating:
“Not surprisingly, the social networking site most used by companies for recruiting is LinkedIn (78%) , followed by Facebook (55%). The site that saw the most growth was Twitter, which wasn’t even a blip on the radar when Jobvite first conducted this survey in 2008, but was used by 45% of respondents this year.”
After reading the article I immediately Googled myself. This is what I found on the first page.
The first four entries that came up were two Facebook and two LinkedIn profiles. According to the article more and more companies are using Facebook and other social networks to learn about potential employees. I thought about how at times my so-called “friends” post obnoxious blurbs and pictures, and sometimes I get tagged in them, even if I wasn’t there. These posts and tags could be negatively interpreted and may impact how future employers view me. Do I want that? No way! I want only positive footprints, baby.
So went my Facebook page. I looked specifically at “my friends” that aren’t really my friends. Click. Gone. See ya. No need to have not-real-friends post silly stuff that might impact my future job, right?
The next order of business was my two LinkedIn profiles. I want only one LinkedIn profile, not two.
The profile I want deleted was originally created for an outdoor adventure industry job. As I plan to connect with potential international school recruiters and directors, I want them to find just one solid LinkedIn profile. So I requested LinkedIn to remove that profile. Next, I began updating my profile. I revised the digital resume with recent professional development like the CoETaIL blog, added the PRIS Middle School Wikispaces domain I created and manage, and my blogspot.
As for Twitter, I haven’t made a dent. Only one tweet. One! This is where I need to focus more attention and start tweeting. According to John Titlow, the more you tweet, the larger your digital footprint will get. That’s interesting news. I’d better grease up my tweeter speaker and start increasing my digital footprint shoe size.
Speaking of feet, it’s true about guys with small feet…they do wear small shoes. I am only a men’s size 9.5. No big flippers here. And in some climbing shoes, I can wriggle into a 8.5 if needed. To find out exactly what my digital footprint was, I downloaded EMC’s digital footprint calculator to size my digital trail. And whallah!
Despite the fact I rarely download video or music or upload videos to Youtube, my footprint is still fairly big in terms of bytes of information that are being generated. As I continue to blog and tweet more regularly, I wonder how quickly my foot will grow? Now I want to compare my print to my digital-savvy colleague, Ben Sheridan, who tweets and retweets from his iPhone, downloads movies and music regularly, and writes on his PRIS kindergarten class blog. My guess is that his foot would fit in some Shaq-size sneaker.
To make my grade 6 students more aware of their footprint and review internet safety in general this week, I had the kids play Internet Safety Hangman. It was a great lesson for at least one of my students. There was an “Whoa, really?!” moment. Out of all my students, this guy probably spends the most time on the computer playing games unmonitored by his folks. He often shares how he meets other gamers in online chat rooms to share the latest cheat and talk game. On the SmartBoard students were trying to solve the puzzle. The hint was: “Never tell someone online this.” See if you can guess what the two words are.
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
Did you guess it?
As a group, they solved the puzzle. We used this as a platform to talk about why you shouldn’t use your full name online, especially in chat rooms. We talked about online predators too. This particular boy revealed he “always” writes and shares his full name in chat rooms and in other forums online. Not anymore though. A great lesson learned early.
Should we be teaching student about digital footprints? YES. When should we start teaching them to get their digital “feet” wet? The earlier the better. As more and more students are creating and uploading movies, gaming, blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, meeting other gamers online in chat rooms, and building their own social networks, it would be ignorant of us to not be teaching them about how their digital footprint. How the choices they make online may impact their future employment potential.
I am going to design an activity following Kim Komando’s advice in the article Your online reputation can hurt your job search in USA Today:
“…You will want to make two lists from your searches. On one list, place links to sites with unflattering information. On the other list, place links to flattering information…. Remove the negative and promote the positive…”
I will ask the kids to do Google search themselves to see what they find and categorize into two lists -negative and positive. As Kim put it, it doesn’t matter if you’re job hunting or not, cleaning up your reputation can take months. If the kids are aware of these factors now, then perhaps they will be more aware and careful as they develop larger digital footprints and create their online presence wisely.