Caught on YouTube

The NEA recently posted an article about teachers who have been unknowingly taped digitally recorded by their students who then posted the videos online. The article mentions some cases where teachers are clearly acting inappropriately. However, it also mentions a few cases in which the video clip was taken out of context or edited in a manner that created the appearance of unprofessional behavior.

The article goes on to describe how one might go about requesting videos be taken off of YouTube, and right near the end it states:

Problem is, kids aren't always responsible. That's why cell phones and other digital media should be banned in classrooms, advises NEA General Counsel Michael Simpson. He also suggests that schools make it a punishable offense to post a video of another student or teacher without that person's permission.

But the safest course of action is to prevent students from capturing humiliating or damning video in the first place.


  • Why is the first reaction to this "ban 'em all?" Shouldn't we recommend first that teachers not go on mad rampages, call students hateful names, or physically assault students?
  • How do you teach students to use digital cameras responsibly?
  • Is it inherently a bad thing to record a teacher in their classroom without their permission?
  • Is it ever OK to post video of a person online without their permission?


  • The suggestion to ban cell phones based upon these instances seems lacking to me. There seems to be two classifications of video recording according to this article: (1) students purposely trying to get teachers fired, and (2) students recording honest-to-goodness atrocities committed by teachers. The first group of students aren't going to be affected by a ban. They're clearly looking to create trouble. I doubt a ban on cell phones would prevent their mischief. As for the second group, I have a hard time believing that what they're doing is all that wrong. It's very likely that when students make serious accusations of teacher misconduct their complaints are fully believed. So to prove their point, they get hard evidence.
  • This is a tough issue. Take five 30-second clips of my worst teaching moments throughout a year and play it back to me. I'd be horribly embarrassed, feel like a terrible person, and anyone you'd show it to would believe that as well.
  • I don't think teachers should live in fear of being taped. I think teachers should be comfortable with anyone see them teach at anytime. What's to hide? I realize we all have bad moments, but as a profession we should be striving for transparency and professionalism. Teachers should be managing their classrooms in such a manner that being covertly video taped won't turn up any dirt.

What do you think?

Check out the NEA article. Is my thinking on track? Or am I a certified wacko? Have you ever been caught on tape (for good or ill)? Is banning cell phones the way to handle this issue? Am I wrong to not be very sympathetic towards many of these teachers being taped?