(Mike’s Note:  This addresses a potential career-killer that a lot of teachers don’t fully understand.  Both my friend and colleague, Nancy Willard, and I shake our heads at the prospect of teachers joining online groups with students.  We’ll have some of Nancy’s articles on this subject later on.  Meantime, we’d like to hear from you.  Should Facebook and MySpace be off-limits?  Or that an overreaction?)

Board finalizes policy on teacher-student communication
By ISRAL DEBRUIN

Posted: Feb. 18, 2009

School Board members voted Feb. 10 to finalize a policy banning communication between Elmbrook staff and students on social networking Web sites and instant messaging services, after deciding against a much more restrictive policy.

Chris Thompson, the district’s chief information officer, said it would be impossible for Elmbrook to provide adequate oversight of services like Facebook.

“There is absolutely no reason that any teacher right now should be on Facebook with their students,” Thompson said. “You cannot control it.”

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2 Comments on School District bans teachers from using Facebook to communicate with students

  1. kd152505 says:

    If a teacher cannot be trusted to act responsibly then fire the teacher, but do not destroy a wonderful form of communication for all those who use it in a positive manner. I have a problem with this ruling for several reasons.

    – My children attend school in the same district within which I teach. Our family uses Facebook extensively to keep in touch. This takes away my rights as a person outside of the school and as a parent to keep track of what my child is doing online (the household rule is – yes you can join, but only if you friend me so I can keep track of who you are talking to and what you are saying).

    – “Good teachers” get to know their students personally. What better way than by being a part of their daily lives. In the “old days” teachers attended school events to support and get to know their students. For more and more students, Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking tools are students’ after school activities.

    – We are ignoring the potential good that can be done. When a teen ran away from home – never returning after school on a Friday – her grandparents contacted me Monday – desperate because the police had not been able to find her, and her friends claimed they knew nothing. I was able to log into Facebook, pull up her profile and read through her wall. I had her home within 45 minutes.

    We cannot let fear lead our lives. By making broad, sweeping generalizations we are putting into place a hidden curriculum that encourages others to censor, promote stereotypes, and see the worst in others. Is this truly the message we as educators want to send?

  2. Justin@cyberbullying.us says:

    I’m not convinced that this is an appropriate response. While I recognize the inherent dangers associated with teachers friending or communicating with their students via social networking web sites, my opinion is that the benefits outweigh the potential risks, especially when both parties use the sites responsibly. I posted my thoughts about this on our cyberbullying blog (http://cyberbullying.us/blog/t.....dents.html).