Monday, January 11, 2010

Would you (or do you) friend your students on Face Book?

I asked this question amongst my co-workers a few weeks ago, and they all responded with a loud NO!!! The primary reason is that they believe that there should be some space between a teacher's life and the student's life. Also, they were afraid of the unknown. What if the student were to see something....what if the teacher were to see something....or the parent? These were all very valid reasons.

Yet I came across a blog post from The Innovative Educator who asked some very thought provoking questions. "How differently might a student/child's life have turned out if a trusted teacher, mentor, adult been in their life? How might an adult's life been enriched if they knew there were students who were looking to them in their online life?"

To go a bit deeper....the student who has been absent for 4 days might never tell you why or where they were, but you might discover that they had a death in the family on facebook. You might be able to see pictures of their travels and as they grow throughout the years.

The other argument, is being a digital role model. Who is going to teach students how to use the web in an appropriate manner if not for the teachers? It's an unstructured environment where the students feel like they can say or do anything without any consequences. They need to be aware that what they put out there, stays out there, and now many potential job clients are using social media to learn more about their clients.

I do think that teaching students how to utilize social media is very important, however I'm not entirely sold on friending them. I think the best way is for teachers to create a fan page, and have the class sign on there. Create weekly discussion posts, and have the class work together from there.

What has been your experience with facebook and students?


Peach Pod said...

I only friend students from previous years. I let students know this if they ask during the year.

Mrs. Cox said...

I have contemplated this question more than a few times. I am friends with several of my students from years past. I teach 5th grade (10-11 yr olds) so legally they shouldn't have accounts, but I know they do. I have not "friended" any current students, but am becoming more open to the idea. I am "friends" with my own daughter who is also in 5th grade, so I am already careful about what I post and how I word it. I do think it can be a great medium to reach students as long as you as the teacher are willing to "keep yourself in check" while you are on facebook.

yungteach951 said...

I would never friend my students on any social network unless it was specifically for the classroom (if your class had it's own facebook or twitter page). When students ask me about my page I simply tell them I don't have one. Even though I do, I set it to private, so you can't view the contents of my page unless I accepted you as a friend.

Janie B said...

Never! It's discouraged at our school by the powers that be, but I wouldn't do it anyway. I don't want to be that guarded online.

Shari Sheppard said...

I have been discussing this as well with friends and there are real concerns but I believe that there are also significant benefits to using facebook to interact with students and their parents. This blog post nicely outlines the benefits:

Evelyn Marateck said...

never... a lot of the time i get requests from the kids at the camp i counselor at over the summers... but then they end up in my classes a few years later... i like to keep the divide between my public and personal life