We have all now come to understand that social media is here to stay. Of course there are widely differing views on its efficacy that challenge whether it is required or not, but nevertheless it is now part of modern life. Along with its introduction and growth come a wide range of opinions and questions concerning its validity and use. I want to look at one of those questions today – teachers and the use of social media. Let’s broaden it just a little – education staff [that would include non-teaching staff such as chaplains, teacher’s aides, administration staff etc.].
Simply stated – should teachers be friends on Facebook with students?
Travel along with me as we explore this issue.
The core questions are: why would you? And why would you not? Otherwise stated – what are the benefits and what are the risks?
It may help to provoke the debate by stating up front that my personal conclusion is that teachers [and that is an all-inclusive term for education staff in the context of this post] should be able to connect with their students on social media. I don’t think they should normally initiate the contact but they should be allowed to respond positively to a friend’s request. Having declared my conclusion [some might say my bias] let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
I suspect the main argument against is the risk involved with inappropriate behaviour and discussions. This then extends into students being given access to the staff member’s personal profiles and discussions; then on to the staff member’s family, friends and wider networks. Equally what would the teacher do if they became aware of some of the negative images [for example] that the student posted? Should the Head of English correct the spelling? The media teacher comment on the artistic nature [or lack of] in the latest selfie?
The main argument in favour would possibly be the ability to connect and communicate on the students ‘turf’. To be able to understand their life and be available to respond to any questions, issues or concerns they may have. To allow them to communicate individually without the crowd overhearing.
What do you think? Have you accepted a student’s friend request? If you rejected it then did you explain to them why you did? Do you agree with me or want to disagree? Please leave your comment below and let’s all talk about it.