Monday, June 25, 2012

Teachers "Friending" Students on Facebook

By The Resourceful Teacher

Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: The Resourceful Teacher

One of the newest trends in schools is the move toward becoming paperless or going “green.” In doing so, many schools are relying on the use of the internet to communicate with parents and students. But, how and where does Facebook play a role in schools and communication? There is much discussion about the pros and cons of teachers “friending” students on social media sites, such as Facebook.

There are many negatives associated with teachers "friending" students. According to Education Week, “Schools in New York City and Florida have disciplined teachers for Facebook activity.” There have been reports of teachers who were fired due to inappropriate postings of comments which were viewed by some students. Many people argue this kind of behavior oversteps boundaries that should be set by teachers. Others believe social media sites are used to post mostly personal information, such as relationship status and interests, and teachers sharing this kind of knowledge with students is inappropriate. Many school boards across the nation are attempting to set guidelines in regards to social media interaction in a way that does not violate teachers’ First Amendment rights. 

On the positive side of the debate, there is talk that in the Philadelphia school district teachers are encouraged to create Facebook accounts strictly for the purpose of informing students and parents about school-related events, issues, and topics. Also, social media sites, such as Facebook, have the potential to give teachers avenues to monitor cyber-bullying. 

There is one aspect of the debate many teachers agree on: adding students as friends on personal accounts is unacceptable. However, if teachers create professional pages for the purpose of sharing school information then social media sites can be great resources to facilitate communication between students and parents.  

Facebook can be used as a helpful teaching tool for teachers, and it has the potential of being a valuable resource... if used in the right way. But, what defines the “right” way? Right now, many school districts are adopting their own policies, if they haven’t done so already.  

Does your school district have a policy in place for social media websites and teacher/student "friending"? Let's hear from other teachers about what’s going on in their schools...  

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  1. Our district discourages Facebook "friending" with students. We do recognize benefits of social media however and have adopted the usage of Edmodo as the platform by which to do that. If you aren't using it, I recommend you check it out. Edmodo is a great alternative.

  2. I was against "friending" with students. However, I recently changed my mind and created a professional account to keep staff separate from my personal account as I have moved districts and schools a few times so I thought it would be a great way to keep in touch and not have my personal account overwhelmed with posts. In doing so, I have also allowed past students to add this profile as many have graduated and it is great to see where they are in life and what they have become. I don't believe in adding current students and there should be an age limit as well as I believe in would be inappropriate to have elementary aged students added. I think this new Facebook profile has been a great avenue to share ideas from my recent blog in regards to teaching.


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