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Should You “Friend” Your Students on Social Networking Sites?
A healthy majority of readers argued that it’s inappropriate
for teachers to fraternize with students via Facebook.
Would you let your students listen in
to all the conversations with your personal adult friends? Would you invite
them to your school reunions, where
the intimate details of your personal
past could be the topic of conversation? No, no, no. Socially befriending
a student is inappropriate, in person
Education PhD Student
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
I never initiate conversations but will
post “congratulations,” “hope you feel
better,” and “happy birthday” comments on their wall. I find this is another way to build a trusting student/
teacher relationship. What is most
useful is when my students are working on projects and they have logged
on to Facebook to ask me questions
when they come to a trouble spot.
It’s quick and easy, and they are more
confident in their finished project.
Sixth Grade History Teacher
Nothing to See Here
I’ve friended several of my 8th grade
and high school students. I don’t really
say anything I wouldn’t want a student to know about, and I don’t have
much personal information available
for anyone to see. In some cases, after
a while I “hid” their posts, since they
were not appropriate or a waste of
time, and I didn’t want to be bothered
with reading them.
Technology Coordinator/Business Instructor
Silver Spring, Maryland
Teachers may have access to more
information about students than
they want! A few years ago, I naively
friended some former students. I
learned more about them than I ever
wanted to know—blog posts about
illegal activities, pictures of them undressed, and updates about activities
I didn’t care to know about—and I
eventually deleted my whole account.
Professional Development Coordinator
One might argue that Facebook’s place
as a natural part of students’ daily lives
makes it the best choice for school
communication because it builds on
their existing schemata to enhance
learning. But there is conceivably a
benefit to students recognizing one tool
as appropriate for school (Wikispaces)
and another as appropriate for social
purposes (Facebook). Making this distinction might support future decision
making regarding similar tools.
High School Media Specialist
Not a Hang-Out
In light of the recent well-publicized
inappropriate relationships between
students and teachers, the burden
falls on us to avoid the appearance
of impropriety. It is no more proper
to hang out with our students on
Facebook than it is to hang out with
them at the skating rink, malt shop,
Community College Instructor
There are too many opportunities
in our society for a student to allege
wrongdoings on the part of a teacher.
Even if a student’s accusations are
found not to be true, a lot of damage
can be done in the meantime.
Tech Support/Special Ed Teacher
When They Grow Up
I’ve seen the last of my third graders
graduate from high school and now
gladly accept friend requests from
young adults I never would have allowed into my PLN as underaged students. A month ago, one of my former
students posted a Facebook status
update saying, “I just can’t get to work.
So much to do but I can’t get started.”
I commented, “You can do it, (name),
I’m about to log off after several hours
of work—passin’ the torch to you!” He
replied, “Thank you, Mr. Merrick! I
guess you’ll always be my teacher.”
Elementary School Teacher