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Your Children, Their Teachers and Social Networking

Should your children be allowed to interact with their teachers through social networking web sites such as Facebook and MySpace?

A new policy is being considered by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education in North Carolina on Tuesday, Dec. 2. This policy strongly recommends that school-system employees not communicate with students through such sites.

The policy also strongly recommends that employees not list students as "friends" on their personal pages unless the student is a relative and warns that any communication between employees and students should be appropriate.

Some teachers say they see social networking as helpful for creating connections with struggling students who might be afraid to speak up in class or in person.

So what do you think? Is there harm in students connecting with their teachers online? Should there be guildelines?


Joyce Mason said…
What about simple e-mail connections with the more introverted students as an alternative? I think social networking sites might tend to cross a line in the student/ teacher relationship. With the open communication they foster, there is too much chance for personal information about the teacher to be revealed, things that aren't appropriate for his or her students to know. Probably the same is true in reverse. Quite frankly, I feel we're moving in a direction toward so much public communication, we need to remember that some things are better said one on one.
rosie said…
This is a great question. Recently I taught a presentation skills workshop for High School Seniors who will teach safety topics to 1st and 2nd graders. I thought most of them would be blogging so I set up a blog to keep in touch. I WAS WRONG.
Instead they were in Facebook. So, I will set up a group for them. It will probably be private to ward off outside craziness. So, yes, I think there should be guidelines.

The children will be in social networks, no doubt about it. But it is up to adults to know where they are and know enough about what is going on with Social Networks. Also, keep an open communication with them by asking them to teach us.
Pam Archer said…
If they can't do it in person, than the internet social networking should be huge no-no. There's way too much information on these sites and can easily lead to a familiarity that can ruin the respect and line between a student/teacher.
I think this is a great question, too! Thanks for starting this conversation here.

I think that if set up properly and with some overall guidelines, this could be a great way for students and teachers (and parents) to connect with one another--I see it as an opportunity for education to grow in creative ways.
Heidi Caswell said…
Pros and cons. Schools guard themselves against sanctioning anything which may go wrong, lawsuits from parents, etc.

Social networking, safety in doing such are good skills to teach in high school, the kids are going to be on facebook anyway. Yet the teachers may use their account for personal use too, which could make it too personal.

I think it is great to connect with past teachers and fellow students. That is being done on facebook now.

I see school districts being very uneasy with such as a teacher sponsored activity. I'd prefer a school based website, with assignments and due dates posted, and place where students and the teacher can ask questions about schoolwork, etc. Access to students, faculty and parents only.
Pat Montgomery said…
I think it is a sad commentary that we are even having this discussion. Why should it be a problem? But it probably is in today's environment. If I were a teacher, I would have a protected site so kids could not enter it unless we were friends. Society has changed so much. When I was in elementary school, a teacher was an unmarried female and she loved to have the kids over to spend the weekend with her. 4-5 would go at a time and we had so mcuh fun. She was so kind and loving. We were the children she would never have. She couldn't do that today!!
Melodieann said…
I agree with Heidi and Pat. There are two sides to this issue. While it may give more introverted students a place to connect with a trusted mentor, it could also provide an easy way for a more inapproprite relationship to develop. And yes, it is sad that we even have to consider such things. A bunch of us always used to hang out with our senior English teacher and have these wonderful discussions. I learned so much from him that I wouldn't have otherwise. Now such a relationship would be considered inappropriate I'm sure.
Interesting one to think about. I connected with my daughters on Facebook. Was I spying on them? No, it's just another way to converse with them at a level they're comfortable with.

I am glad I was connected to my late daughter - it was the only way I could make contact with all her friends when she died to let them know about the funeral - otherwise I wouldn't have known how to contact most of them.

Should a teacher connect with their students? I guess that depends on the teacher, the student and the type of relationship they have. Some will make the best use of it and build the students up, others will abuse the connection. Guidelines will need to be set up for that reason - not everyone is as they appear to be.
Angela said…
I emphatically say NO to teachers and students connecting on FB or any other social network.

IMO the only time a teacher and student should connect online is through a school sponsored website that is setup specifically for the purpose of achieving the goals set for students.

Too much out-of-line shenanigans going on these days so I believe we HAVE to draw the line. Unfortunately it's nothing like it was when we Boomers were all in school.

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