I’ve been doing some informal research of late in my travels, asking some of the principals and administrators that I meet the following question: When you have some applicants lined up for a teaching vacancy, do you “Google” them? Seems a pretty large majority say that yes, they do take some time to see what a standard Google search might pull up about a potential hire. And some even admit to doing a cursory MySpace search to see what comes up. In most cases, they say that the intent is primarily to find out if there is anything negative that surfaces. Almost all of them admit, however, that finding positive things about their applicants, as in portfolios or collaborations or even social sites, does or could make a positive difference in the process.

But then I ask them something along these lines: So if you are Googling people who you might want to teach at your school, what are you doing to insure the kids in your classrooms are “Googled well” when they go for their own interviews? And I don’t just mean telling them NOT to post certain things online. I mean what are you doing to help students shape their online portfolios so that when their future employers or future mates run the search, what they find is not just a lack of negatives but a potential plethora of positives? Not surprisingly, the answer is basically “not much.”

If we know that it’s becoming more and more commonplace to use the Web to assess backgrounds and “social capital,” and we’re doing it in our own hiring processes, when are we going to make that connection in terms of how it relates to our kids’ futures?

Would love to hear what your schools do in terms of doing “background” searches on potential teachers.

(Photo “Just Expressing Her Opinion” by Cayusa.)