Dec 18, 2011

The Line Between Student and Teacher Relationships

I was gagging as I read this article in the Times about school districts having to implement policies restricting teachers from getting connected with their students through social networks and texting.

I was very surprised to see that some grown folks don't use their common sense in this situation. At what point does it make sense to "friend" a student of yours and invite him or her into your personal life, via your online presence?

Children don't really know boundaries unless you clearly set some. Over the years students have tried to blur the line between our teacher and student relationship. I quickly help them course correct.

This is how I handle this situation with my students:

Student: "Mr. S do you have a facebook page?"
Mr. S: "No. Facebook is for you young folks."

This prevents a student from looking for me on Facebook and requesting I "friend" him or her.

Student: "Mr. S do you tweet."
Mr. S: "No. Tweeter is for you young folks."

I actually don't tweet.

I do leave room for students to interact with me on a somewhat social level because at times they will need an adult to confide in if they are experiencing something heavy like bullying or abuse.

Moreover, we see each other five days a week for hours, and we are human beings that develop connections to one another.

However, I am not their father or friend. And, my students are not my kids.

When students open up to me about any problems they were having, I listened compassionately and guided them to the right person in that school that could help them. In other words I respond as a professional.

With that said, there are exceptions to this rule. I have a handful of "friends" on Facebook that were my former students from when I taught in high school.

My rule was modified to included any student that was 18 or older and attending college, and the relationship will be as mentor/mentee.

Oh and it is by invitation only to students that displayed a mutual respect and a certain level of maturity.


Reneé said...

I saw that article but didn't read it yet. I think there's too much of a bleed over at my work (mental health) with coworkers doing social networking with each other. I had to tell a coworker last week that I am diligent about my personal life and work life worlds being separate. He thought I was too old school, but I know that the me with my family and friends is a hella not work friendly. I don't want to have to censor myself and my peeps on personal time because my coworkers/ employers may happen by on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Creating dummy accounts seems like too much fakery just so you can be yourself to me.

Bill Dameron said...

Glad to hear that common sense is not dead.

Kyle Leach said...

When Stan is teaching in a school he uses a similar mode of thought to you Allan. He likes to encourage the use of all technology, especially for learning, but he knows how to set boundaries. He does have some former students as friends on Facebook, that he re-connected with after they graduated.