Sunday, August 18, 2013

The One With Social Media

Are your students a part of the social media community?

Having taught 7th grade for the past seven years, I've had very few students who were not a part of social media.  They all seem to have instagram, facebook, twitter, or some other form of social media.

What about you?  Do you participate in the social media community?  I do.

Every year one of the first things I tell my students is that yes I have an instagram account and yes I have a facebook account.  But no I will not be "friends" with you or allow you to follow me.

My students have always understood this.  They still try to friend me or request to follow me. But they understand that for me it is part of being a professional.

My accounts are set to private.  If  students try to look up my pages the only things they will be able to see are my name and my profile picture.

There is nothing on any of my accounts that I wouldn't share with my students.  I'm not posting inappropriate pictures or badmouthing my school.

However, for me I feel like I need a line between being me and being Mrs. Weaver.  I need some separation.

I've also watched multiple teachers be fired for inappropriate conduct with students.  Though I know I would never do anything like that, I don't want to risk anything being misinterpreted.

Though I have worked with other teachers who are friends with their students on facebook, I've never been in the minority.  Those teachers who allow it have been few and far between.

However, at my new school I believe I will be in the minority.  It is a very small and close knit community.  I have already received and declined requests from students and their parents and I haven't even met them yet.

My coworkers accept these requests.  That's fine for them.  I do not judge them.  But it is something I'm not comfortable with.

I've thought about creating an instagram or facebook as Mrs. Weaver just for my students but I don't think I would ever keep up with it.

What is your take on social media?  Are you friends with your students?  Why or why not?  Is this even allowed by your administration?

I'm not looking to start a debate.  I believe we all need to decide for ourselves.  I'm simply curious as to what your take is on the issue.


  1. I am also at a small school. I can't necessarily add up how many teachers at my school are friends with current students, but there are several for sure. When I taught high school, I had more students request being a "friend" and I told them that if they still wanted to friend me after they graduate, they may do so.

    I sometimes have my MS students ask to friend me, and I tell that after they graduate they can choose to do that. At times, they do bring up that other teachers have added them. Some have said things like you don't really like us or you aren't our friend. I've said no, I am not your friend. I am someone who cares about you and I am here to help you take advantage of learning opportunities and to guide you. I think our administration has indicated that friending students is probably not a wise choice, but I don't think a firm guideline has ever been set.

    It is a tricky issue, for sure. I know that we all want to develop solid relationships with our students, but I don't think through a personal social media outlet is the way to do so.
    I do think social media for class purposes can be used successfully, however, all those venues are currently blocked to our students at school at this time.

  2. I should add that I am an "outsider" at my school. Many of our teachers are friends with student's parents because they went to school with them.

  3. I am 100% with you on this one -- I do not "friend" students or parents on my personal social media pages. Like you, I taught at a very small school a few years ago, and everyone "friended" me on Facebook before I was really even an official member of the staff. I naively accepted their friend requests, thinking that I would start drama if I didn't. Long story short: while I didn't have anything inappropriate on my page, there were things that I didn't necessarily need my students or parents to see...and I gave them full access when I accepted their request. I had no problems out of it, but the fact that everyone seemed to "know my business" freaked me out. These days, I don't post much of anything on Facebook, but I do enjoy Instagram and Twitter.

    I've since moved states and, of course, districts. Though I teach elementary now, I still refuse to accept friend requests from parents. I just don't think it's appropriate. Why would I call you my "friend" on social media when all we have is a professional, working relationship? I am definitely NOT the norm, since it appears that all of my colleagues are friends with the parents on FB. I'm sure I will get some backlash from that eventually, but I am sticking to my guns. I want to keep my professional and my private life separate.

    I do, however, have professional social media pages. I don't have anything professional on Facebook, but I do have a class Instagram and Twitter account. I use Instagram with my kids every single day, and they love it {as do their parents}. I hooked my Twitter account up to my Instagram, so it basically just tweets my pictures. I sometimes will tweet inspiring words or reminders about school stuff. Instagram is easy for me to keep up with, but like you, I don't know if I would update a Facebook page regularly enough to even have one.

    Sorry for the novel! Anyway, those are my 2 cents. :)

    ~Mrs. K. from The Teacher Garden Blog

  4. Since I no longer teach in the districts where I've worked, I'm fine accepting friend requests from former students. It's a great way for us to stay in contact, although I always let them be the ones to initiate it. Also, I put them on my "acquaintances" so they can't see things my friends post to my page. I know I don't post anything inappropriate, but I can't always say the same for my friends and family! :)

    I also receive text messages from several students I had last year. We had to use our personal phones to call home, so it was inevitable that my students got my number. I don't really mind. They mostly just say hi and ask how I'm doing, and I think it's cute that they want to stay connected. Of course, I have no problem ending those relationships should it be necessary.

  5. I agree with Miss Lifesaver. I have several of my MS students from my old district on instagram or twitter. I don't really keep those "up to date" except to post random pictures of my mixer or of a sunset, lol. I figured, it pleases them and I don't post anything anything inappropriate. I will not allow them to be FB friends with me, as I believe that's too personal.

    I was also their basketball coach, so on my last day a few of them (bawling their eyes out) asked for my number, so I gave it to them. It's the girls that mean well, and just want to have my number in case they need to chat. A couple of them, when having issues at their new school (freshmen) will text me and ask for advice, or just text me to say hello and I think it's cute. :)

    Now saying that, I will not friend any of my current students at the district I am at now. I just feel like especially with middle schooler's it would affect the classroom management. I feel like if they were friends with me on social media, they would think we were all buddy buddy in class, and that they could get away with things.. :)

    Typical kiddos, right? :)


  6. I really like the idea of using social media in the classroom because its such a huge part of students lives. If we are able to incorporate the things kids already love to do and somehow make it educational and give more purpose to it, hopefully students will use it in more appropriate ways in the future. Maybe if students realize social media is more than just a way to talk to their friends but a truly worldwide way of communicating, they will see the importance of social media.