Personal Use of the Internet during the School Day

: I regularly do informal classroom visits. Recently I visited a classroom where the teacher was checking out an auction on eBay while the students were working on small group projects. The students were engaged in their work and didn't seem to need assistance at the time, but I wonder if I shouldn't have said something to the teacher anyway. How would you have handled this?

It's important to know whether or not your district has a policy about employee personal use of the Internet while at work, and what that policy states. Some districts prohibit any personal use, in which case you would need to say something to the teacher no matter what. Other districts take a less stringent approach and allow for 'reasonable' personal use. However, since the teacher was viewing the auction during class time, I would still feel compelled to say something.

In either case, I wouldn't make a big deal out of it, especially if this was the first time you observed this behavior. As a former principal, I didn't mind teachers using school technology for personal reasons during break, lunch, or other times when class was not in session (as long as they weren't checking email during a staff meeting!). However, during class time I believe a teacher's primary responsibility is to the students, and that's where his/her attention needs to be focused.

Submitted by: Susan Brooks-Young

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