Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Teacher/Student contact on Facebook

I found it interesting to hear, during last evening's class, that many teachers are in contact with current students on Facebook. I have discussed this topic in a previous post, but I feel I must state my opinion, as a teacher and an administrator, more clearly.

I realize that Facebook can erase barriers as a social networking tool, but I think it is important that there are some barriers between teacher and student. In a world of sensational media, we, as educators, must safeguard our professional reputation against misconception and misunderstanding. Specifically, while there are teachers who are well-meaning with respect to using a tool such as Facebook, there are also those who are unscrupulous. Children are vulnerable, and their safety, as well as the safety of the professional reputation of teachers, must be protected.

We must be cognisant of public perception. Having students as 'friends' on Facebook will certainly have perceptual ramifications. I refuse to put my career, as well as the perception of my profession, at risk in this way. I am not comfortable with having any contact with any students that could be construed or misconstrued as personal. I don't find it necessary to have contact with my students in this way and I advise teachers in my charge to avoid such relationships.


  1. I was interested in your post and your firm views on using facebook, do you hold the same views for all social networking sites? I have been involved in a number of discussions with regards to this both with youth work colleagues locally and also online here

    I think that it is more interesting to look at how we might use Social Networking sites as professionals for interacting with young people rather than dismissing them entirely and to this end I am working with others to develop policies and guidelines to protect both young people and staff.

    I hope that you will have the opportunity to reflect on what you and others in your charge could do to explore how this might work

  2. I don't have the same strong stand about social networking with students although I have very little contact with students on Facebook and I preach a conservative message. I do use e-mail and have teachers communicating with students through e-mail via a grade book program called Engrade. It is interesting though that this contact has had possibly life saving implicatons; we have had teachers bring serious concerns forward about students who are contemplating suicide that they learned about through social networking.

    The problem I see is teachers are forgetting that what they post matters. I strongly urge teachers to use discretion when posting items on Facebook. The party pictures need to be avoided. And language and sexually suggestive material should be excluded if the teacher is in contact with students. I had a discussion with a colleague about this because it is now so easy to have your image show up online without your permission. I wondered if there are teachers discussing no digital cameras at social functions involving alcohol. I would hate to have that pink bunny halloween costume picture of yours truly show up today!

    I do think we need a code of conduct to guide us as professionals in this rapidly changing world!

  3. I totally agree with you Trevor - I think there has to be a distinct line drawn between teachers and students when it comes to social networking and that students should not appear as 'friends'. I also have issues with photo postings. Many of my students carry a camera to school with them and snap random pictures - in the classroom, at recess, on school outinigs, etc. and I am often captured (sometimes not so gracefully) in some of them which I later find out are posted on Facebook. There is no way of me preventing this from happening. The same thing happens with other students (often without the student's/parent's knowledge) - their photos appear without consent. Maybe it is a good idea to sign up as a friend just so you can check up on what is being posted about you????