Since you asked for my opinion...oh, wait. You didn't. Well, I have one anyway. So here.
I have a problem. No, not THAT problem. The one about teachers and social media. More specifically, I have a problem with teachers and Facebook. I happen to think it's strange for teachers to be friends with their students OR students' parents on Facebook. GASP!
There. I said it. I'm not talking about college students because, well they're adults and can make decisions as such. I'm talking about school aged kids and their teachers.
There's just something about teachers and their students updating each other with their status and sharing pictures that weirds me out. Maybe it has to do with the sickos who've had sex with their students. *See disclaimer below. Or maybe it bothers me when teachers find themselves out of a job because they were dumb enough to post photos of their students on Facebook.
Handy Hint: It's a really bad idea to post a picture of your students with duct tape on their mouths and a caption that you finally figured out how to keep them quiet on Facebook, even if it was meant as a joke and the students did it themselves. I personally have a healthy sense of humor so I find things humorous that the average person wouldn't. But I mean, really. Use your head. Not going to end well.
There's the whole privacy issue, plus these kids are minors. Let me put it this way. Would it be any less weird if your child's
dentist or hair stylist was friends with your child on Facebook? I even feel a little strange when my now adult students from years ago find me on Facebook and want to be friends. I'm all flattered that they remember me and want to know where I am and I really like to see how well they're doing or not. But part of me thinks, "Do they really give a shit about my camping trip to Lake Of The Woods? Are they honestly interested in that funny thing my daughter said last night?" And to be completely honest, I'd sort of rather not know about which song lyrics they post and tag their girlfriends in or how they went to a beer party and woke up in a bush outside of the Qwik Trip. It just seems like a boundary issue to me. I do not want to know, as in TMI. And I want my students to respect my professional role. I don't really think making my personal life completely accessible would be of any educational benefit.
So that brings me to the topic of teachers and the parents on Facebook. My 4th grader's teacher is friends with several of her students' parents. So when she posts things like "My class was absolutely rotten on Friday," it leaves me a little disappointed. I'm a teacher. I've had classes that nearly made my head explode because they were so difficult to teach. But to post that in public where the parents, students, principal, community who are friends can read it just seems wrong. If you hate your job, get a new one. If you're frustrated about behavior, deal with it appropriately. Teachers are in the public eye and set a standard for students. Poor choices, jokes, and just plain stupidity only reinforce negative stereotypes of teachers in my opinion. Act like a professional. Facebook is public whether you think so or not. And don't be surprised that policies and legislation are flying regarding social media regarding students and school staff.
Remember, I'm a teacher. I get it. We're people too. We get tired of the political bullshit that goes on that sometimes that keeps us from doing our jobs. And like any other profession, there are slackers and valuable employees. We need to vent just like any other professional too. But remember that little legal matter of confidentiality AND student privacy. If a child is not your child, don't post the picture. If you're friends with parents and/or students on Facebook, be professional. Don't get me wrong. I'm a social media whore and I know that kids are more engaged in social media now so it could really be a great educational resource. If used carefully and purposefully.
Just remember: Your students look up to you and you are setting an example by your social media behavior whether you like it or not. What exactly are you teaching them about respect and relationships? And don't think for a minute that teachers aren't ever victims of cyberbullying by students or parents. It happens a lot more often than we hear. Media seems to be really good at over publicizing students who are victimized, but not so much the other way around.
So am I WAY off here? What are your experiences with educators and students or parents on Facebook? Good or bad. If you're a teacher, how to you manage your relationships with parents and students on social media? I'm curious and I always like to hear other points of view.
*Disclaimer: I realize that many people including teachers suffer from mental illness. It is not to be made fun of or
minimized. I know from personal experience how harmful untreated mental
health problems can be. Just so you know.