When It Rains… An Addendum

I happened upon this Facebook discussion thread this evening and thought it germane to the issue of student-teacher Internet contact as covered in yesterday’s post. Check out the whole thread for yourself, but here are some choice quotes for your contemplation (cut & pasted; only minor editing for clarity and some emphasis added):

It took me a while to get on here because I was worried students would search me out or something. You never know. I’m sure some have. But I stopped being worried about it. I asked my friends to be respectfull of what pictures they post of me. Other than that, I use my privacy settings and hope for the best. I have friends all over the world and this is the only way to keep in touch with everyone.


While I don’t seek out my students on facebook (I see enough of them in school) some have found me and sent a friend request. Keeping this in mind I simply make sure that there is nothing incriminating in my profile, and I make sure that any wall posts or pictures are respectful. So I guess I censor myself to make sure that past or future students don’t have leverage on me! PLus, I think we should set examples for appropriate internet behavior, it’s never a good idea to display too much about your personal life or post pics that show you in an unsavoury manner, no matter what your occupation may be.


I think the key is: treat your facebook like it’s a postcard. Anyone can read it if it is curiously intersting for anyone.


honestly i just didnt add them, not even to my limited profile :s it would be too weird to have them reading my posts…especially the older ones…


Maybe when they graduate or leave the school [I’ll add them as friends –Ed.], but while they’re a student at my school, I don’t want to risk any semblance of inappropriateness. I’ve also overheard some of the other teachers and admin at my school talking negatively about Facebook, so I’m not sure if they’d look favourably on my even having an account period. I felt better when I found out some of the other teachers had accounts too. We just don’t talk about it at school.


I use my email addresses to send my Grade 9 students handouts, assignments, etc. It’s an exchange of information, that’s all. It allows them to send me things but does not give them access to everything that’s been sent to me. Giving students access to my Facebook account gives them access to all of my friends and their photos, my photo albums, a listing of my groups (including this one) and everything written on my wall. To me they are two very different things.


I just see facebook as another tool for teachers and students to interact. Which I feel is extremely important.


I’ve had a few students (last semester and one I taught two years ago) send out a friend request, which I declined. Students are students. I joined Facebook to network with friends. However, having said that I did go on the alumni website of my present high school where I teach and found out what some students really think of me: I’m a bitch, but a hot bitch. [Yeah, I get that a lot, too. –Ed.]


Our union has been very clear about technology. Basically, the phone and face to face is the best thing for you, probably because nothing’s in writing. Email interaction is something that we have been told to avoid. Really, nothing is stopping people from changing you words around…I hear stories about teachers who are suspended because their profile pictures are inappropriate (holding alcohol, wearing bathing suits, etc.).


Try to use common sense and good judgment. Set a good example for the students. I think its OK for teachers to have a facebook and accept friend requests, but use discretion. Like an earlier poster said, its public–show that you have nothing to hide.


Oh, and a bit of friendly advice –

NEVER, under ANY circumstances, have pupils as friends, and
NEVER, under ANY circumstances, message them, or reply to messages.

Any interactions should be kept face to face, and in the classroom.

The lines MUST NEVER blur.


Originally I had made up a hotmail account so students could email their assignments to me without it being late but even that got me in a bit of trouble. Since then I avoid anything to do with connecting through technology. I just got a permanent position and I plan on keeping it.

The thread seems to still be active; if you have an account, why don’t you add your two cents?


  • I would, but I don’t feel like being reproached. Unlike too many of the parents and teachers in this conversation, I’ve been doing my own thing. At this stage of the game, anyone can Google or Yahoo me and my website is the first thing that comes up. Needless to say, I guard my first amendment rights with all my soul, or really, I’m just a rebel, yes even a radical. Anyways, because people kept trying to find me on MySpace and Facebook (and in many instances actually succeeding), I decided to make a teacher myspace for myself. I have it set so only the kids can add me, and I have to have seen them previously in the school. It’s still utterly private, and even adults who try and add me won’t get in (i.e. school officials). Before I closed it off, though, I had it reviewed by some outside sources so it’s been approved on all sides. I also have an AIM and a GMail for my kids to contact me. People really need to get over themselves. How are the same people who give up their cell phone number so readily, and even do house visits have no foresight about how the web will eventually work? I’m done posting a blog on your comment box, though. Peace …

  • The teachers on the Facebook thread sound rather out of my realm, so I’ll just comment here 🙂 I have a facebook account but would NOT accept friend requests from students. It’s really not an issue that I deal with, though, since my students are so young. Even if I taught older kids, they probably wouldn’t think I’m cool enough to bother looking up! How about you – what did you say in that discussion?

  • Opening and signing in to facebook, wading through Jedi and Zombie invitations, turning down offers for sex, then turning down offers to send the same salacious offer to EVERY ONE of my friends ~or else!~ has me too frustrated to even sign in to facebook. Thanks for posting some comments from the thread on your blog.

    So I’ll respond to the thread here.

    I use facebook to keep in touch with students that have graduated. I don’t approve friend invitations for kids that still go to our school. I’m thinking Jose has the right idea, though about another account for school. I’m not opposed to interacting with kids online, just that my facebook account really was just me.

    I will give up my teaching job before I will stop communicating with these awesome young adults. I agree people need to get over themselves.

  • By “just me” i mean me as a human, not me as a teacher. It’s really unjustifiable that the two are supposed to be different.

  • i am online and willing to “friend” any students who ask for it. my boundaries are that i limited profile almost all students that aren’t in uni now, keep them from my photos & wall & as much as possible.

    however, i have to remind students that “just because facebook says you’re my friend doesn’t make it true” whenever they try to blur the lines of authority inside the classroom.

    wanted to ask, is there a difference between public & private school teachers? if i taught at a public school there’s no way i’d friend any student on facebook. if something happened that could look inappropriate, i trust the admin at my private school to hear me out if anything online seems to look inappropriate. but i wouldn’t trust a bureaucracy to do me right.

  • Interesting conversation for sure. I know that I get involved in digital conversations with my kids all the time—but it’s always on assignments or forums that are created for school and related to my content.

    We have Voicethread presentations and discussion boards that are for our class only. We have wikis and blogs that we use to post our thoughts and give feedback to one another. In all of those forums, I’m active—-prodding thinking, modeling digital dialogue etc.

    Informally, my students will often email me. Some even Skype me on occassion….and I definetly reply. But that’s the extent of it.

    I don’t engage in informal conversations with my kids using social networking sites like Facebook or Myspace. Not only would my district frown on that, but I’d worry about blurring the lines between “teacher” and “friend.”

    Does that make any sense?

  • I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to nail down policies regarding fluid phenomena such as social networking, Web 2.0, or electronic communications. There seem to be as many opinions as there are colors in a rainbow. I teach middle school and haven’t thought much of being electronically visible because I’ve had nothing worth hiding. I have a MySpace alias which I never use. I have a boring Facebook account that I don’t use much because well, my life is pretty boring to anyone under 40! I have a LinkedIn but I doubt kids would ever bother looking for me there. I don’t think I’d friend any students if they asked me. Perhaps I’d just ignore any messages from them and hope they’d get the hint without being offended.

    Although I teach Internet Safety to my students and we discuss social networking, I’m not much interested in those types of networks for some reason. I don’t know why, because I’m blogging, Tweeting, and participating in a pretty wide Professional Learning Network. That in itself makes me feel a little “exposed” but not so much as life details on a MySpace would.

    I was happy last semester that I finally got a parent to respond to me — via text message — about her child’s grade, but it surprised me she wouldn’t email. I probably don’t mind being reachable by text to adults. It might be better than a phone call sometimes. But I much prefer email to either because it gives me time to think about what I’m going to say and attempt to be clear. (Not sure I reach that goal…) Then I have a record of what I said.

    All my students have my number, but only one has texted me. She is a deaf student, so talking F2F is difficult without an interpreter. She’s only 13 and is needing some guidance regarding how late is okay to text, etc. but she’s been very respectful. Sometimes she wants to chat, but I since I require the texts to be school-related or tech problem-solving issues, I just don’t respond. I’ve been trying to make tech easier and more accessible my since I’m the Computer Teacher at my school. Now I’m re-thinking whether I want to be that available.

    The discussion about blurred lines is very helpful. I’m feeling like I can make better choices by thinking of electronic communications in that way. It’s tempting to get very active online to show the kids that we’re modern, approachable, and cool, but that’s sort of akin to wearing their clothes and speaking in their slang all the time — both creepy and unprofessional. Thanks for the post(s).

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