Should Teachers and Students Be Facebook Friends?

A few weeks ago I asked in “What About the Kids?” if schools should offer online safety classes. Here’s another justification for it.

I just came across “Should Teachers and Students be Facebook Friends?” on Education Week. Right now I’m Facebook friends with a few high school teachers, one from college and a few from grad school. I suppose that I’m looking at it from an adult perspective now as I was out of high school for over 10 years by the time I joined Facebook many moons ago, but I don’t think I would have wanted to be Facebook friends with high school teachers while I was a student, even some that I liked a lot.

We’ve heard the stories about teachers inappropriately contacting students online. If you’re going to be an educator, you take on a role model status and should act appropriately. We expect that of our politicians as well. It’s upsetting to hear about the bad apples who make us question the rest of the bunch. For those who say, “well students start things too,” sure they do. Come on. It really shouldn’t be difficult for a responsible normal adult to figure that out rather quickly.

After reading the article, I might suggest something that I recommend to elected officials who want to have an online presence and still maintain a personal page for only their friends. Make a public page. Teachers can still post information, have discussions, and interact, but it would be public and professional and can be monitored. They would not need to “friend” students, and students’ personal posts would not show up in the teacher’s feed. (Depending on how strict a district’s rules are that might still be a violation, though.) A combination of a public page and online safety classes from the school might be a good way for students to learn how to properly navigate online and at the same time, help teachers keep a “safe” distance from their students while connecting.

Is there a way for teachers and students to safely be Facebook friends?

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Corey McCarren

Facebook pages for teachers is a great idea in theory, but I’m not so sure that it would be a good thing to do even if it was used for good purposes. I think many parents and other teachers wouldn’t really understand the concept and judge teachers who do it. If schools had their own social network for teachers and students which is under full control of the district and is strictly for educational purposes, that could be something, but I’d recommend steering clear of Facebook.

Andrew Krzmarzick

I’d say it’s a practice that should be restricted completely. Just seems like a professional no-no on so many levels. It’s like boss and employee (another one to keep in check)…but way more complicated.

Andrew Krzmarzick

P.S. As you suggest, groups/pages would be fine…but each school should have a clear policy about it.

Alejandro Gallego

Students and teachers should avoid being friends in facebook or any other outside social network. The reason is because teachers give students plenty of chance in school to open up and guide them. The fact that facebook is an open ground for any type of conversations it opens doors where practice could be difficult or misinterpretated, responsible individuals like teachers must maintain their image as it is what students will remember of them in the future. Perhaps, if teachers like to maintain in contact with students, they can communicate through school email, or some schools offer the social network that pertain to the school and is closely monitored, facebook could be risky for teachers.

Sarah Ressler Wright

As a high school English teacher, I think this is a great idea! I am only friends with select former students -never current students-but possibly a public profile page to link to my website would be helpful to students and teachers trying to get information. Thanks Emily!

Henry Brown

This is a real mine-field; BUT would suggest that it MIGHT be doable with several caveats;

1. All CURRENT students are friends

2. All parents of CURRENT students are friends

3. Monitoring of activity required by school administrators

Have Highlighted the term “CURRENT“, because I believe that where the wicket gets kinda stickey is where the facebook relationship goes beyond the professional enviornment. And just as in the professional world where supervisors and employees have a need for social media communications and it should NOT extend beyond that

Courtney Shelton Hunt

I wrote about this topic late last summer, after the brouhaha over the Missouri law restricting cyber relationships erupted:

Can We be Friends? In Cyberspace, “NO” May be the Right Answer

I followed that piece up more recently with the following:

Private Social Networks: Why Every Organization Needs Them

For the reasons articulated in both posts, I think it’s best for schools systems to create private networks in which faculty, staff, students, and parents can interact. After the student-teacher relationship ends – and as long as the students are legal adults – then they can connect through personal networks on public platforms.