A Mosaic In Progress

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 10 2013

Facebook Prank Litmus Test

If given the opportunity, would a student hack a teacher’s Facebook profile?

The normal Monday morning routine usually begins like this for my 7th graders.

Me -> “Good morning class! Happy Monday-”

Random Student -> “BOOOO! It’s not a Happy Monday!” or “Whatever Mr. E”

It’s also obvious that they are looking to the end of school as much as I am … maybe even more so. As I was teaching, I see a Senior walk into my room. I wasn’t quite sure what it was about so I was anxious to move the students into work time to talk. “Would you be able to stay after school later tonight?” asked DA, a leader among the Senior class. Eager to help, I said that I would stay without knowing what she was specifically talking about. It wasn’t until lunch when I learned that I unknowingly agreed to stay for an overnighter so that the Seniors can prank the school. Learned a valuable lesson – ask “What do you have in mind?” next time before saying “Yes” to something.

As much as I was dreading the evening as well as the following morning, I knew I would feel a lot worse by saying “No”. School then basketball practice ended and I rush out of school to pack for the night ahead. When I arrive at school that night, I find Miss W and a student come out of a car with pizza. It was a relief to see another teacher there with me who at least knew everyone … she would later get awarded the Teacher of the Year by our school! I never realized how little I knew about our students until I saw unfamiliar face after unfamiliar face. I was living in 7th and 8th grade world after all.

I ended up moving off to the side hoping that it wasn’t noticeable that I was a bit uncomfortable and shy. Thankfully one of the Seniors broke the ice by saying, “Mr. E, you remember IY don’t you?” I responded, “Actually I do … Why do you ask?” “I heard what he said to you that one day. You know … that racist comment.” “Yeah … he was a little upset that day” “Well I’m sorry to hear that. He’s my cousin. We did not raise him up to act that way.” I ended up following him to the gym to meet a few more Seniors. While typing up some work, another Senior approached me. “Hey Mr. E, you have CS in class right? He’s my brother. How is he doing in class?” “Well, he’s always very shy in class. I never really know what he’s thinking” “He’s always like that. It takes him a really long time to open up.” And so began an evening of saran wrap, silly string, and paint on any surface within reach.

However, throughout the night I found myself wanting to stay with them more and more. I couldn’t remember the last time I played knock-out and it was definitely the first time playing knock-out at 11:30 at night. I also noticed a crate nearby the coach’s office with a good frisbee. It was the type that you would play ultimate with. Somewhat surreal to throw a frisbee for the first time in Arkansas. With the first forehand throw, I was instantly asked how I did that. “You played in college didn’t you?!” The question brought me back to those 10 PM evenings at Woodlawn Field when a group of us would play no matter what the conditions.

I decide to come back out and I noticed that the door to a classroom belonging to one of my roommates was open. Lights were on and I notice that the boards were covered in writings and the chairs were wrapped with the desks in saran wrap. Then I noticed a computer sitting next to the projector … “Oh no.” The group of seven decide to open it and it was already logged in. “Let’s see if Facebook is logged in too!” Lo and behold, Facebook was open and I already saw the cursor in the Status box. I probably should’ve done something at this point but I hung back wanting to see what came next. However, what happened was something a little unexpected …

“What should we type?”

“I dunno, should we be doing this? [My roommate and owner of the computer] is going to hate us for this.”

“Yeah, let’s just type something but not hit ‘Send’.”

Seven Seniors, zero comments encouraging to mess with the profile even though if there was any opportunity it would be during the Senior prank night.

I once loaned my computer to a 7th grade student and the next thing I know I get a notification on my phone saying that I accepted this same student’s friend request. In other words, she got on my profile and sent a request using my profile. And here are seven students, not really acknowledging my authority, evaluating the consequences and ultimately making the right decision even if it meant that they didn’t get as much fun out of the night. I’ll admit there was a fear factor since my roommate is known for being firm (and does a great job I might add) but I couldn’t believe that these students showed that much self-restraint. After seeing that, I didn’t mind helping decorate the school a little! I even entrusted the same student who asked me if I wanted to stay the night with my car to help with a prank!

Fell asleep on a couch in a school office but I tossed and turned the entire night. I couldn’t remember the last time I had such little sleep since college but I managed to rise and hastily dress in the men’s locker room. “Mr. E, did you take something today? You seem to have a lot of energy” Part of it was my efforts in trying to get psyched up for a morning full of 7th graders. School soon began and as the 7th graders rushed in I began thinking, “In five years, would I be able to feel comfortable leaving my computer behind with my Facebook logged in?” Have I instilled in them the importance of trust and making the right decision even if it meant less of a momentary thrill?

It was a struggle to contain the students that morning. They were chased down the hall by WY with a can of silly string. Peeking my head out I suddenly see him running in my direction yelling “MR. E!!” and the roar of laughter coming from my classroom as I got sprayed with string. Eventually, they got back to working but then one of them asked, “Are you going to be around when we prank you too?!” Don’t know for sure but I’m interested in knowing what they would do.

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    Midwesterner being thankful for every written experience … even when it hurts =)

    Mississippi Delta
    High School

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