A few weeks ago there was a debate on a morning news show about a school system in New Jersey that was banning students and teachers from friending on Facebook. A police official asked, “Do you want your teenager talking to a teacher at 10pm?” He suggested students make appointments with teachers outside of class. (Think about that one for a minute). A school official explained that the ban was for the protection of the students, the teachers and the school system.
I posted a facebook status about it and got a variety of responses — and promised a response of my own. My response has become rather lengthy, so I will post it in parts. For Part I, I will include some facebook and invite you to add yours…
A parent: I think that should be up to the parents and the teachers. It takes a village to raise a child and teachers are part of that.
A teacher: I think it’s typical. I’ll refrain from commenting further.
A teacher: It’s the safe play. At my school and I’m sure many others they strongly suggest we don’t friend students. I already had that rule for myself. It blurs the line of professionalism. We’re teachers, role models, disciplinarians when necessary… not their “friends”. Seeing them every day at school is plenty of time to have a positive impact.
A teacher’s spouse: we’ve been told [he] shouldn’t friend any students for his protection also.
A relative: We live in a litigious world and I agree that students refrain from friending teachers. It the safe play. Students can have that crush on a teacher and start a line that can severely impact that teacher’s career. You can be sued for anything these days and I’d just play it safe. Also parents need to take a more active role in their kids’ lives. It’s a doubled edge sword. Be careful uncle John.
A former student: As a student, I never friended a teacher or professor until they were no longer my teacher. In fact, I am only friends with you, Mr. Gardner, and my advisor at VU, whom I no longer have classes with. As a future teacher, I do not plan to friend my students.
A former student: I think I was told that as a physician, I should stay away from” friending” my patients… but seriously, my patients are also often my friends and I think that in general, people respect the fact that this is [K] at home and it is Dr. C at work. It is a bit harder for teachers because they are dealing with minors, who theoretically, don’t have the respect for their teachers and the risks that facebook can pose… and also, teachers could utilize it inappropriately to become too “close” to individual students.It is a bit harder for teachers because they are dealing with minors, who theoretically, don’t have the respect for their teachers and the risks that facebook can pose… and also, teachers could utilize it inappropriately to become too “close” to individual students.It is a bit harder with teachers because they are dealing with minors who, theoretically, don’t have the respect for their teachers and the risks that facebook can pose… and also, teachers could use it inappropriately to become too “close” to individual students. I think the obvious solution would be to have a second site that is a site for the “class” or band but is run by the teacher. I think an obvious solution would be to have a second site that is a site for the “class” or band but is run by the teacher. Then the “personal” aspect is defined. Honestly, though, I think the world is too full of way too many laws to prevent the minority from doing something stupid, while the majority would not require such a law to behave properly. A reasonable teacher would hopefully be able to draw lines and carefully guide the appropriate use of his site….but not all teachers are as wonderful as you.
A family member: I wouldn’t friend students.
(NOTE: I did NOT edit student responses, including spelling….)
A current student: G! most of us students started out adding you so we could have updates to things that relate to school, i think it should be up to the parents weither or not they are ok with their student adding a teacher but seriously how many parents do you kno that actually check? besides as long as the teacher and student are appropriate with each other how is it any different than adding any other person or adult?
A current student: What i think is not really appropriate to post on this site.. but lets just say that is the stupidest thing that i have heard in a long time.. someones occupation should not make it so that they cannot add other people. Just because they are a teacher should not mean they cannot add someone who is a student, especially in high school … as long as the teacher student relationship does not become inappropriate because of facebook then there should not be an issue with their being friends. Many students add teachers so they can get updates on sports, band or other extracurriculars. Whatever school corporation did this is thinking only about the most extreme cases. There usually aren’t issues with teachers and students being “friends” on facebook.
A current student: Heck, one of the reasons I friended you was for questions and stuff about band =P So sorta stupid rule imo
A current student: If students make appointments to meet up with their teachers that could be more harmful than facebook…
Our blood boils when we see news stories of a teacher who has abused a student’s trust, or worse. We’ve cringed at the damage a wayward priest, pastor or powerful politician can do to the institutions they represent. I had a close high school friend (we shared the “Outstanding Band Member” award at our band banquet) who became a successful band director, only to crash his career and his marriage because he lost his moral compass.
The cautions of schools and professionals are well-founded. I understand the disastrous potential for a distraught, disturbed, disgruntled or disappointed student to make an accusation. In today’s litigious society, a teacher doesn’t have to be guilty – just accused. It is why pastors are careful in one on one counseling. A church that offers individualized music instruction in its facility put windows in the doors, has parents sign students in and out, and requires staff walk into every 30-minute music lesson. A university requires that its music majors providing private instrument lessons to middle-high schoolers video all lessons…..
Parents need to be vigilant and involved in their child’s relationships and communications, which is one of the reasons I welcome and encourage parents to join my face book list where they should, like President Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.”
CAUTION: Trick question…With all the risks, wouldn’t it be safer to just ban all connections between students and teachers? My answer and your anonymously presented comments in my next related post.
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