by Jordan Bienstock, CNN
Student-teacher interaction is a constant part of the school day. But should that interaction extend to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter?
Last year, Missouri passed a bill banning any electronic communication between teachers and students, although the law was revised after concerns that it might infringe on free speech. Now, school districts across the country are working to define rules regarding student-teacher relationships as they update their social media policies.
In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, high school teacher Jennifer Kennedy acknowledged that today’s students communicate via technology, and that “If you say absolutely no Facebook or texting, you are cutting off an important relationship with students.”
Still, Kennedy told the newspaper that she refuses any friend requests from students.
Anyone who follows the news is aware of the main concern surrounding students and teachers interacting online: the possibility of inappropriate relationships. The New York Times reported a rise in the number of complaints of inappropriate contact involving Facebook recently. When an educator does cross the line with a student, the reverberation is often felt across the teaching field, especially among those who regularly use social media, even if only in a positive way.
When an educator does cross the line with a student, the reverberation is often felt across the teaching field, especially among those who regularly use social media, even if only in a positive way.
Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, California, believes the potential risks are too great. Lieberman told U.S.News that “Any one-on-one private relationship out of the classroom begs for inappropriate behavior to begin.”
Still, some educators think knowledge of the technology may be the best weapon to combat potential abuse of it. In the New York Times article, Jennifer Pust, a California high school teacher, said “I think that we would do more good keeping kids safe by teaching them how to use these tools and navigate this online world rather than locking it down and pretending that it is not in our realm.”
We want to hear your opinions on students, teachers and social networking. Do you think there are more benefits or downsides to this kind of communication?
I think its inevitable that social media will be in every classroom no matter how hard the old guard tries to stop it. Once children who have lived with having Facebook in their lives everyday become the people making the decisions it will be allowed in school. What I think has to happen, are safeguards put into place so that there is less opportunity for teachers to fall into inappropriate relationships with students. Schools could also change the hiring process by trying to weed out teachers who might be susceptible to this, like by mandating psychological evaluations that some current companies make prosepctive employees pass during hiring. Also, there has to be a movement of teacher's being more professional as they once were, versus them trying to be the peers of the students which leads to these intimate relationships. In addition to making the classroom geared towards the students, I think social media is essential to getting parents more involved in their children's studies. By introducing technology into the classroom teachers can send out messages for upcoming tests, post what the student turned in online so the parents can see, create class websites to keep parents informed of progress and assignments and even take students on virtual field trips so they can visit the places they're learning about without leaving the room.
There are teachers here that assign homework using Twitter and REQUIRE that you have an account or you may miss important assignments. While I don't necessarily agree with that avenue or assigning homework or think that an account be required, I do think it's a great way to post common questions and to respond to many by responding to one. I am an elementary school/middle school teacher and have declined students' requests, however I can see the merit in creating an alternate account solely for the class if you were so inclined.
No student-teacher Facebook or other social media relationships. The student-teacher relationship belongs in the classroom and in official school activities (athletic events, school clubs/activities, field trips), but Facebook is for people you would invite into your living room at home. Our child's high school does not allow Facebook or other social media relationships with students until after graduation. Period. Teachers are both professionals and mentors to students, and although bonds are often formed in the process and time spent together, it needs some separation and difference from the friendships that students share with their peers. These are supportive relationships that sometimes evolve into important roles, but there needs to be a line between home/private life, and the paid professional staff who teach at a school. If you want to visit with your teacher, you can do that before or after class. As to the chat room for your English assignments, how about you hang out in real life, after or before school, in the library or some other school area, and carry on your discussion there? See each other, hear each other, that whole thing. Try it.
BACK IN THE 50'S–60' 70'S 80'S THE ONLY TECHNOLOGY THAT I HAD WAS ? A BLACK AND WHITE T.V. AND A RADIO..
...Let's all look how well that worked out, lack of technology use at youth turns into older person who can use the bare minimums of the internet and types in all CAPS... Stop blaming lack of responsibility and self control on other aspects of the world. People with an external locus of control are ruining great things, take responsibility for your actions and stay away from the scape goats of society... I feel they have all been slaughtered enough.
I think there are a few unintended consequences in this issue that need to be pondered.
The most concrete is time. I have my students post questions to a Wiki so I or other students can answer them and peruse them for insight into their own questions. This is great for questions on their physics homework problems. However, it takes a lot of time to do that, especially if it is a good back and forth discussion. Many students do their work at night when I am with my family. There is a conflict. Same with answering email. Fanatics of using social media as a communication tool often forget that teachers cannot work 24 hours a day.
Twitter…Well, is there any real deep knowledge that you can get across to your students using it? I want my students to write longer, deeper explanations than would be allowed on Twitter. We have enough examples of sound bytes out there. Let’s teach deeper skills.
Also, a representative from our school’s law firm warned us that if there is some reason for an investigation into an improper student relationship and you have used personal email, Facebook, cell phone, whatever to contact students, then those accounts are WIDE OPEN to be investigated and used by the prosecution. How many things can be taken out of context and used against an educator? Whether we agree or not, teachers are held to a much higher moral standard than others. And as someone posted earlier, it only takes an allegation that can be fed by Facebook photos to ruin a career.
I think technology opens up new avenues for communication, but educators should only use district provided tools for contacting students and parents. Students have contacted me years after graduation through the school district web presence because of the stability of that presence. Those tools can teach students how to use the technology appropriate to a work setting.
I don't think an absolute "no social networking" policy is necessary. I have lists created on Facebook, Circles in Google+, and so on so that were a student to add me, I could throw them in a list that doesn't show them the pictures from my New Year's party, but they can see the pictures from the field trip that we went on a week ago. It's all about common sense.
I don't think that there should be teacher/student interaction on facebook. Facebook is social networking. iAny social networking conducted between students and teachers should be sponsored by the school district. If a school district feels that this interaction is necessary, then the school district should have the option to allow this via a facebook page set up by the teacher specifically and only for students. This page should be totally open to public viewing and should not include private messaging. In this way, relationships could be monitored as they are dealing with underage students. I am a school board member and a teacher. I've created and maintained relationships with my students without facebook for many years. It has been done and still can.
Good teachers use every available resource. If a stick and a patch of dirt are all that's available, good teachers use them and teach students to use them, and interact with them, and instruct with them, draw pictures, diagrams, examples, etc, using that stick and patch of dirt to every possible advantage. When we have other means to help our students, good teachers use those, too. Teachers who have access to anything, be it a blackboard, a whiteboard, or some kind of tech, and choose not to use them – even forbid them -and both are always a personal choice – these teachers have outlived their usefulness and need to GET OUT NOW, so a teacher who really cares can take proper care of the students. My students use all kinds of social networking and tech in their daily lives; it would be ridiculous not to include education as part of their use. Done correctly and properly, i can't think of a single viable reason to block and not use these things that our students are using daily. Yes, there can be risks. But a teacher should be willing to help a student in whatever ways necessary using whatever means are within reach. Teachers don't teach "math, science, language, history, etc.;" teachers teach students. Ignoring this very easy way of contact and instruction is turning your back on the 21st century. Then again, perhaps that's what far too many adults WANT to do. That stick and patch of dirt was good enough for my grandfather. . . . .
I agree with the teachers in the article. As a fellow teacher, I embrace technology, but do not respond to friend request of anyone within our school district. Once they graduate, I will gladly accept them as a friend. I believe that there needs to be that separation of professional relationships and social relationships. I believe that technology is key in today's society and as educators we need to use it as a tool for keeping kids up-to-date with what is going on. I agree with the comment about teaching our students to use technology as a benefit, instead of acting as though it doesn't exist. My last thought is that districts need to think about giving teachers the ability to create a separate / professional account to keep in contact with students for academic purposes. All schools have teachers' email accounts that keep parents / students connected. Why not a similar facebook / twitter set-up? This should keep relationships strictly professional and accessible at all times. I know nothing is 100% bullet proof, but people who abuse policies will always find a way to complete their intentions.
I think creating a professional account for teachers is appropriate. I don't see anything wrong with teachers connecting with students on Facebook, as long as they stay professional, e.g. using appropriate grammar when posting comments or status updates, limited images (headshots in professional clothing). Some students are mature and know the difference between addressing peers vs. adults. Some teachers would like to stay in touch with former students as they move on to high school or college. I don't see anything wrong with that but as mentioned above, the educator MUST model appropriate interactions and if the same is not done by the student (e.g. a student addressing a teacher by their first name), then it is the educator who must make it clear to the student that they will not engage in colloquial conversations.
I PLEDGE ALIGENCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FOR WHICH IT STANDS ONE NATION UNDER GOD INDIVISABLE WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!
Yikes. You spelled that wrong. You should probably review your national pledge.
I'm a young teacher who grew up with computers. I don't believe social media is to be feared. I use it all the time and my students use it all the time, too. I have an informal policy to not add students on Facebook until they no longer have me as a teacher (more for my benefit– I don't want to see all their posts about breakups and their favorite song lyrics).
I have good relationships with my students and many of their parents, so I'm not at all concerned about people's perceptions. The fact is the world is changing and teachers have to change with it or be left behind and be viewed as an old, out-of-touch relic of an educator.
as an online teacher i use skype, im, text, phone, computer, twitter and facebook to communicate with my students. this allows me the abiltiy to help the kids answer questions they or their parents have about my course or their progress. as technology based as our society is we must adapt to maintain the 21st century skills needed for survival.
as an oline teacher... use of technology is key... i use a variety of tools.... skype, text, im. email, facebook and twitter... these are all ways i help communicate and help my students ,as well as, their parents. there is always the ability for bad things to happen with or without the use of technology. students today are embrasing the technology... in order to met their needs educationally we must embrace the technology and adapt.
kids post all sorts of garbage on their facebook... why would any adult want to friend a student is beyond me.
Seems innocent, but there's a bigger issue that's been brewing. Working across several industries, many folks lack work ethic required to do much of anything. This nation is on the tail-end of prosperous times. This boils down to apathy and poor work ethic. Every prosperous nation in history inevitably deals with this. If you don't learn from history, you're inevitably forced to repeat it. Most people in the workplace these days surf YT, FB, Twitter and BLOGS all day long while their jobs are outsourced to countries where people have to work 18 hour days to put food in the table. Employers are lucky to get 3 hours of work out of a typical American. Most have run themselves into the ground
financially, wanting now and taking the American dream out on credit. Getting things before you buy them causes you to lose compelling incentive to finish paying for it. They destroy the very impetus to work in the 1st place. You Americans have become socially irresponsible citizens. I'M quite tired of my taxes being wasted on stimulus packages and bailout plans. For all the years I've worked (and I'm from a severely impoverished background), I've never lived paycheck-2-paycheck. I've never been unemployed, and made it through school without any aid, transportation while supporting 3 children. The economy is fine, the citizens of this nation are the problem and need to take individual responsibility. This is where your youth is heading in a global economy.
A lot of people are making far to big a deal out of this. When I was in high school a few years ago we all had a few teachers as friends on facebook and had a bunch of our teachers cell phone numbers and it wasn't a big deal. we used facebook to communicate with our teachers as a group outside of class and to plan school events and what not. Facebook was also used by teachers to show us videos and articles related to our classes that we may find interesting. it also allowed us to get help on school work from teachers during the evening, weekends, and holidays so that we never fell behind. the cell phone numbers were used for safety on field trips as well as another way to get in touch with teachers quickly during the school day if you were going to be late or absent or outside of school in an emergency. i think that people need to stop worrying about what could go wrong and realize that there is a huge opportunity here to extend the learning experience for kids, and isn't that what its all about. there is always the potential for things to go wrong, and that was true before technology as well.
I absolutely agree with this.
I agree. I am a teacher. For some students, I am the biggest supporter and advocate they have. I know that I make a difference in their lives. I am not a traditional 1960s-1990s teacher. I value the relationship between teacher and student and commit myself to the success of my students. I build a trust relationship and give them everything I have. If $100K can be spent on technology for our district every year, we should consider using some of the technology our students already use. I build relationships with my students that LAST . . . just like MY teachers did. Monitor new hires better and let teachers teach. I guarantee success with my students. Guarantee.
This is what teacher websites are for.
I feel like it's made out to be too big of a deal. It could also be useful if it was done right. Teachers should just simply have two facebook pages. One of the facebook would be strictly professional and he/she could friend their students. The other they could use for their personal life.
nope nope and nope. Many teachers think it will never happen to them...well, let me tell you ..it will!
All it takes is ONE allegation. Even if its trumped up, you will be put on admin. leave and investigated. In these investigations you are GUILTY until proven innocent. DO NOT put yourself in this position...do NOT friend students or other teachers.
If you do, you are only asking for a new profession...Period.
I suggest teachers use http://www.edmodo.com and keep all posts school related.
I came across edmodo through a classmate of mine last semester and she demonstrated it to our class and I have to say it it pretty impressive. She was able to use it with her second graders and I think if we have to network with our student, I agree to keep it school-related. Networking through Facebook is not at all bad but be cautious, I still think there will be conflict of interest.
As a teacher, there are times I think it would be nice to post- HEY remember to turn in papers tomorrow! Or just be there if needed, or post links of information for them. And then I remember what day and age we live in- I have girls coming to school crying over things that are said, boys not talking, and other teachers sharing what they saw on their own students pages- usually bad things about school. I will never add my students even after graduation because there is just a line of formality.
If teachers are responsible to hold a license in their respective field, then, they should have enough judgement to determine what level of relationship to have or how much information to reveal to their students. The problem comes when we, as teachers, become too afraid of letting something "slip" that makes us look less than the pillar of greatness. We all are a work in progress. Before we became a teacher, we might have been that same weed smoking student who is in-and-out of trouble trying to friend us in need of advice, or we might have been the kid who had all the money but no parents to talk with so they make poor decisions and decide to friend the teacher with a Facebook account who cares more about the student than county policy. At some point, society, parents and administrators need to quit putting teachers on a higher pedestal than they do themselves
I don't use facebook. Is it possible to provide a quality education to students without communicating with students using social media?
Yes, of course it is. I use this tool to keep in touch with former students. I have been able to maintain a level of support for kids I've worked with for the last 20 years via social networking sites. It makes teaching and learning a more rewarding experience when their is continuity and rapport. So, there ya go!
I meant to say "where there is continuity"...grammar counts.
I am SO happy that, as a retired teacher, I don't have to deal with this issue! Facebook, texting, smart phones... I love 'em all but no one could ever have predicted the ramifications of having them in the classroom. Good luck to all you young teachers. There will be lots of speed bumps in your path...
As a student who is involved in many several roles of office in school clubs i find using Facebook or sending a text message to the teacher or adviser is much more efficient then sitting down and writing a formal email to them, and it gets me my important information much faster. It also depends on whether you personally know the teacher outside of school.
A "formal email"?? Wow. I guess that's what its come to. Too hilarious!
As a former employer of 16-25 yr olds, I know that you must at all times keep a very clear line between boss and employee. I assume teacher and student would be the same. I fired one kid on the spot for turning his back and ignoring me while I was reprimanding him for poor performance. When he begged for his job back 2 weeks later, I told him "Welcome to the real world, and be happy you learned this lesson at a young age". Perhaps if teachers drew a clear line, the rest of us wouldn't have to clean up their mess.
Or perhaps, parents/guardians should do a better job policing their children while they're using technology to make sure they're using it appropriately.
The problem is, we teach these things, but the kids who cause these problems are not getting the same message at home. What can we do then?
The number of teachers who don't "draw a clear line" is miniscule. We don't need to hear that people like you need "to clean up the mess" like it's an epidemic.
I'm sorry, I somewhat misspoke. In no way did I mean to imply that teachers are to be solely held accountable. I am aware that parenting is the most important factor. There are many wonderful, professional teachers in the educational system. Please accept my apology to any professional teacher I may have offended.
I am a middle school History teacher. I have had kids attempt to friend me but I have a no teacher/ student (or even former student) policy. Regardless, students still need to have contact with me and I encourage them to email me and respond back to them that night if at all possible. I have recently create a Facebook page that my students can "Like." I can post info about the class, they can write messages on the wall and all students and I can respond to each other through that page. I do not have access to their accounts (and I don't want it!) and they cannot see my personal account. I've only tried it for a couple of months, but it seems to be going well and a couple other teachers at my site are trying it as well.
I too teach History (at the high school level) and I have created a FaceBook page. Every student in our school is given a laptop that they keep for the year, so instead of ignoring the social media sites, I've incorporated them into my lessons. I use the Facebook page to post homework help and the kids can post questions and answer/help each other there. I actually send home a permission slip to parents at the beginning of the year informing them of this and welcome them to join the page too! Like you, I have a policy that NO student will be "friended" by me. So far I have had no issues with students or parents and this is my third year using Facebook in the classroom.
When I taught at the high school level, I did the same thing. Whenever a student gave me a friend request, I just responded with, "School policy does not allow me to friend students, but I will be happy to do so the day you graduate." Unfortunately, now that I teach at the middle school level, I can't use Facebook due to the age restrictions. I checked out edmodo and a few other sites but did not like them at all.
I need to learn WordPress well enough that I can just create my own darn site!
As a 29 year old who not only works in education, but was at one time a student, I find this stance to be a little stodgy. Social networks like facebook allow you to group your "friends". I had teachers as a kid that were the ones who inspired me to do what I do, and guess what... they're on Facebook! So I friended them to say hello and to let them know that 20yrs later what kind of impact they made on me. I only share with them what I think is appropriate. Same goes for kids I have coached over the years who may now be in college or grad school. If you're not willing to learn the tool, then why use it at all?
As a teacher, I believe in maintaining a clear distinction between teacher and student. Any communication should be done either face-to-face, via phone, or on district-supported and district-maintained technology (i.e. email or any other medium provided by the district). I've contemplated creating a Facebook or other social networking profile, but haven't found it necessary to be successful in my personal or professional life. If someone needs to contact me, whether for personal or professional reasons, they know how to reach me.
As a teacher I must say this scares the he// out of me. I use social media,own websites, and play in a Rock Band.
I tell my students that they are free to check anything out that I post online. But I cannot friend them. I have never liked the fact that everybody judges what others do on what their Perception of the situation is. And since everybody's Perception is different, It leaves too much room for misunderstanding, So I feel it's best not to have this kind of personal contact with a student.
I did set up a work email address that the students can contact me at that goes through the School so there is never any question of what was discussed, and if anybody wants to check there is a record of it.
Better to be safe than sorry in this day and age.
I find it completely acceptable for teachers to use electronic media to connect with students and parents to communicate homework updates, assignments and assistance. I feel they should have a "public" account in which their computer specialist has access for emergencies. The internet is only a tool and you can not stop abuse of children by teachers simply by restricting Facebook communication. Restricting teachers from using this tool which can be extremely effective in assisting in the learning process for both students and parents is like telling people they can't cut their steaks with a steak knife because a murderer used a steak knife to take a life.
Teachers should not be friends with students on public social networking sites. It opens up possibilities for inappropriate relationship and it may cause some ethical concerns. If you see a picture on Facebook of a student drinking or writing about doing something unlawful, would you as the teacher friend be compelled to report it or somehow act on it? Make it easy-don't even go there. The liabilities or problems outweigh the benefits. There are other methods to keep an open line of communication with students and mentor them in appropriate ways.
Yes, actually, and I have. Also, on my school approved class Facebook page, I frequently posted tips on online safety - including being aware of what you post on Facebook.
I agree with you Kay–the liabilities outweighs the benefits. Read some teachers who lost their jobs because of what they posted on Facebook and I guess if you are responsible adult, then you should be careful with what you post. I am mom of a teenager and I monitor what he post on Facebook because it might affect his admission to colleges and universities.
I connect with many of my AP teachers via Facebook and even text message. These exchanges have always been appropriate and school related. A couple of my classes even have Facebook groups where students can ask homework questions to both classmates and teachers.
This is exactly why I liked my Facebook page. A lot of the other sites only allow interaction with the teacher, not the other students.
If you can't trust a teacher to have an appropriate relationship with kids either online or offline who can you trust? If you allow your child to travel with teachers on athletic trips, teach them life skills, social skills, and academic content shouldn't you be able to trust them with facebook? Think of all the other irresponsible adults in a child's life, would you rather have them as facebook friends or teachers as facebok friends? A few bad apples teachers out of hundreds of thousands should not influence facebook and other social media norms.
I'm a high school teacher that has 2 facebook accounts, one personal account and one "school" account. My personal account is private to the point that if you tried to, you could never view anything about me. My school account is public. Students add my school account to theirs, and use that account to ask for help before and after school, tell me that they will be absent, ask for lost assignments, and more. I, in turn, have posted corrects to assignments on my wall, and the news spreads like wild fire. It's been a GREAT tool for everyone involved, and never once in 3 years has it ever turned inappropriate. 200+ students have my school account added to their friends list, while not one student has even asked to add my personal account. Administration supports my use of facebook, as do the parents. Not one complaint in all this time.
I do the same thing. I'm amazed how many students will ask questions on my public facebook or check on assignments. These same students will avoid my teacher school web page like it has the plague. I even used this account as a part of my national boards entry. It really helps student achievement.
This is a complicated issue and I think each teacher needs to evaluate whether or not they have their students' as online friends. I don't think it should be banned just yet based on the fact that this is a new issue and we haven't seen enough evidence against teachers and students being online friends.
I am a young teacher and kids don't always know where the line is until they cross it. Online kids are much more likely to say something inappropriate so I stay away from becoming online friends with them. I do know some teachers who are friends with students and I have seen nothing wrong with it.
Every teacher has an obligation to behave appropriately at all times with students, electronically and brick/mortar. Professional communique of class pertinent info is one thing. Friending in social media is out of those bounds, in many opine.
I tell my students to write formally if they want to hear back from me. Text speak, lack of salutation etc. goes unanswered and deleted.
As a teacher, I would like my privacy respected. Social networking is for the sole purpose of being social. I am a teacher, not a kids friend. I am a mentor, not a kids friends. I am a thinking coach, not a kids friend. I have a school email and students can reach me by google voice mail if there is an emergency. There is no need for them to see me as a social peer equal.
I hope you do not teach grammar.
Exactly what I was thinking. There's an apostrophe in "kid's", you know. Unless you're a math teacher.
There are social sites that were created specifically for student/teacher communication. I don't think Facebook or Twitter is the place. I deny all requests from my students. And went as far as to hide my page from anyone finding me. There should be a level of professionalism and chatting socially with students on Facebook is crossing the line. Also, too many opportunities for words to be twisted or taken out of context. I love my job too much to jepordize it over something so silly. Work stays at work. Home stays at home.
Exactly. I have my Facebook name in Spanish and with a hyphenated name attached just so they can't find me.
But a lot of students feel uncomfortable or "nerdy" (yes, there's still a fear of nerdiness) on those sites. Having a teacher's home page (friends and family) private, then a separate public page for students to friend for corrections or changes and the chance to ask questions seems like a fine midway. (Even have your principal friend it so (s)he can review it randomly and check up on it. If you've got nothing to apologize – or resign – for, you've got nothing to hide.) Place strong rules of behavior in their faces on the page ("This is a Virtual Classroom. If you wouldn't say it to my face from your desk, I don't want to see it here. There are many forms of detention, and this one includes pasting your post to your mother's Wall.") and constructively criticize their behavior if it is inappropriate (Yes, I know pasting an inappropriate post to a student's parent's wall is not constructive, but I do have a sense of humor). Would you treat them differently in the classroom than you would in an e-mail? And how many times have you, as teachers, gotten several e-mails over the same assignment that students found to be unclear? Rather than having to sift through all those emails, wouldn't it be easier to see a post from one student saying, "Am I reading this wrong? It's unclear" and a half dozen others commenting "I don't get it either." You can clarify the parameters of the assignment ONCE and when an eighth student goes to your page to say she doesn't understand, the answer is right there, no further comment necessary. Or, you know... get that eighth e-mail to which to cc a reply.
Hey there–If a district teacher website can do the same thing as facebook (and mine does), there is absolutely no reason to use Facebook–I simply don't care if students feel 'nerdy'. Students will have to view professors professional webpage/syllabus in college-they need to start using teacher web-sites. Also, I don't use a facebook in my personal life because I would rather talk on the phone with my friends and see people in person!! Teachers need to have a life and get fit-be a role model of balance and good health. Many teachers (including myself) have given up health to tutor, keep multiple web pages open, email parents and students, etc. There needs to be balance restored that includes setting up firm boundaries as our students will have them in real-life after Middle/High School. Students still need to be taught how to be organized, keep a binder, to write, etc.
While this is obviously a wonderful tool the line of professionalism is a difficult one to maintain. Sure it can be a closed group of just those students but then whose monitoring their post? Do you delete someone who is being inappropriate? What are the ramifications if you do within the classroom? I think it's best to keep student connections and develop relationships inside the classroom. This avoids any possible inappropriate behavior (others around) and builds a string classroom environment. What students do outside the school is their business as is that of the teachers. Besides, I really don't want to see and read what my students are doing...lord only knows.
I think it's almost impossible for a teacher to not leave students out when they pursue these kinds of online friendships. My middle school teacher socialized with more than half the students in our class (like going away for weekends at a cabin), and as one of those who didn't go, it was crushing. While that is clearly over the line now, I strongly feel that unless teachers have all their students on Facebook or whatever, they shouldn't have any. Some parents don't allow their kids to use social media, and those kids will feel very marginalized. Personally, I think there are many more positive and equal ways of building relationships with students.
So, you're parents wouldn't allow you to have a facebook account to connect with your teacher and classmates to discuss schoolwork? My dad is crazy anti-tech, but if I were in a private chat room with a bunch of people from English class discussing character interactions and the outcome of assumption in "Great Expectations" he'd tell me not to forget to feed the dog and walk away.
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