Teachers, Students & Social Media

Cynthia Boris has an update on Marketing Pilgrim regarding the Missouri Teacher ban on social media. In essence, the state had passed a law banning teachers from connecting with students or former students via social networking.

The update is that the Teacher’s Union appealed the law as unconstitutional in that banned free speech and was granted a stay.

What struck me when reading the original announcement regarding the ban, was that social media is a communication channel, and if public communication can lead to inappropriate action what about private communication?

Personally, I’d feel safer if a child was communicating in public than private with an adult

Boris makes a few points in her update.

  1. Facebook requires 13 years of age, so half the kids are cut out off the top. I agree a teacher shouldn’t friend a person they no to be against the terms of service, but there are a lot of students 7-12th grade who are legally using it.
  2. Is facebook the best way to communicate? This isn’t the point, the issue is what is the most likely/convenient – and that is social media.
  3.  One comment from Mr. B about Susie’s new Facebook profile pic and he could have a full-blown crush on his hands. It’s dangerous territory my friends and I say the line between teacher and student should not be crossed. Is it any different through any other interaction, such as the 40 minutes or so a day they spend together in class, two hours plus at practice, etc., if we don’t trust the teacher, they shouldn’t be teaching.

Kids have changed and so too has teaching. My brother teaches HS and he is amazed how much kids will share with their teachers. He is Gen X and didn’t grow up with social media, but think about the teachers coming out of college and getting jobs in teaching. They won’t have a second thought connecting by Facebook or Twitter, using Slideshare, or even Ning to create study groups.

History has also proven there is always a risk, be it by email, phone, or after school office hours, you can’t legislate it away, but you do have to recognize it and put appropriate measures in place to minimize it. Just ask the Police (original video – HaHa!-).



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