Teacher-student relationships on Facebook

Several of my colleagues have a policy where they do not accept students to be their Facebook friends. For years, I have had no issues with having students reading or seeing what my personal life on social media is like. Then again, I’ve got nothing to hide.

Sure, I don’t post about my personal details, my love life, or any negative mental  or health issues, “woe is me” crap publicly to anyone – let alone announce them on status updates all over Facebook. As I read an SFGate article called, Tweeting teachers need guidelines by Phil Bronstein, I had to think of the fine line between professional and personal lives of teachers.

Because school just let out in Hawaii a few weeks ago, an onslaught of friend requests came over Facebook with efforts to keep in touch as we move on with new schools and the next season in our lives. My students move on to high school and they want to keep in touch with me.  I’m glad I touched their lives enough that they’d want to do so.

For me, social media has done what it has set out to do – bring people together via technology. Friends from high school, long since forgotten renew friendships again, relatives across the seas feel closer to each other and it really does enhance relationships.

As always, I think the organization that is education will find ways to spurn the responsibility and moral-nurturing tide back on teachers who may be “giving the wrong example”. Teachers on social media are riding the technology wave like the rest of the world, yet for some reason because we are teachers, there is a lot of pressure to always be one-step ahead of the masses to uphold being the righteous examples that we are perceived to be because we are teachers.

Is this fair? We are human. We teach because we love to learn, and within life and social media, teachers still have a lot to learn. We are expected to teach to the 21st Century learner and nurture/parent our students to become upstanding moral-abiding contributing citizens.

But if teachers are caught to be “bad examples” – shame, shame on you. Hmm.