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I have found it wonderful to reconnect with students AFTER THEY HAVE GRADUATED. The opportunity to reconnect with students after they have become adults is delightful. It's fun to see how their lives have developed and to remember the opportunities they have had in school. Of course, reconnecting is by invitation only - when THEY request it.
In this age of different socialization media, I feel it important to make my presence known to help be a guide and role model. If I see something that is inappropriate, I tell them and help to guide them. I also help monitor for safety reasons. Teacher-student interactions via the electronic media versus face-to-face appropriateness once again is dictated by common sense, both are guided by similar boundaries which we must never breech. Once you put it out there, it is there for all to see, or at least recorded.
I feel that students sometimes need that extra role model to connect to. With so many families that aren't meeting the needs of our youth, I say we are needed. For those that are inappropriate, same as face-to-face relationships...you should be in the education business if you are willing to cross those boundaries and harm the students. For those teachers that have problems establishing positive relationships with their students in regular conditions, it probably will not work via the internet either. You must stay positive and hold expectations high. My 2 cents worth :)
In dealing mostly with students under the age of 18, I inform them that I am honored to have been asked to be a part of their network, but I impose an 18 years or older rule for my Facebook page. I do it as a preventative measure, in case someone would wrongly accuses me of an inappropriate relationship. First thing they would slap all over the headlines "Teacher Fraternizing with Minors on Facebook." I just don't want to put myself in that position.
I have no issue otherwise with forming relationships with students outside of the confines of the classroom. Students respect you more if you make that effort, so I don't have an issue with the social networking, as long as the adult monitors themselves properly and understands that they might find themselves in a situation where they may have to do some mandatory reporting. It is a tough call, so I don't choose to put myself there quite yet.
Kids and Teachers should absolutely have communication on MySpace, etc. It is a valuable communication tool for my school club and I can post their pictures when we compete. If practice changes I just bulletin it and they all get it, saving me hours of phone calls.
As a social-networker, blogger and digital media contributor myself, I value websites that connect me to people who share my interests, and I encourage my students to find meaningful connections --- connections which oftentimes expand their global and cultural awareness. I share personal stories of connecting with old friends or family members I haven't seen in some time, and I share stories of happily married couples who met (appropriately) online. Digital spaces are great places to share and connect. They seem less effective (and more dangerous) when they are used to maintain relationships which just could easily exist outside of them.
Why utilize a digital space, when it's possible (perhaps less easy or comfortable) to share a personal, temporal space in the real world? Our students need teachers who will model for them communication and problem solving skills in a face-to-face environment. They need teachers who model personal interactions and who are willing to help students explore interactions which are not, at their core, consistent of zeros and ones in what is ostensibly an imaginative, made-up realm of data. Our students need teachers who draw students to digital spaces for academic purposes, and who draw them away from digital spaces for personal purposes.
Befriending students through the sharing of profiles and writing on "walls" undermines, in many ways, the very tools we're attempting to provide our students with: Namely, seeing the Internet and its resources as a very tool itself. Not a house.
I only allow students who have graduated to be my Friends on Facebook and then only ones I have actually taught. Many have younger siblings, but short of the occasional sarcastic status (none referring to my school work) there would be little issue to pass on to their younger brothers and sisters.
Before ‘social networking’ online there was social networking in physical spaces. I didn’t go to my students’ parties (not that I was invited or wanted to be) and they did not join me at the bar for a drink. Within the confines of the school itself I managed to find out about students interests, problems (if they were effecting their learning) and aspirations – I didn’t need to ‘socialise’ with them to know what I needed to know to do my job properly.
As a secondary student I remember a few teachers who tried to be ‘cool’ – “Trigonometry it a lot like surfing , man!” I remember some newly appointed ‘sun bleached’ math teacher declaring. Ironically this type of teacher was more parodied and criticised then the stricter and more reserved educators in the school.
Come on folks this is a no-brainer, it is tragic that a school authority actually has to create policy to stop this ridicules behaviour. While technology is transforming many aspects of our lives – this aspect has not changed – I am not there to be my students’ (particularly in secondary) friend (Facebook or analogue).
A true friendship starts with a level of equitability and until students leave school (or university) the friendship will always be inappropriate, as it will revolve around a ‘power relationship’. A teacher who can not make the distinction between being friendly and supportive and being a students ‘friend’ – should get out of the profession – at best they will be less efficient and worst they will be endangering themselves and their students.
Facebook does not blur the lines, technology does not blur the lines, the lines have always been there to be blurred – get on a social network with grown ups and let the students have their own space digital and analogue.
Communicating with students on another level besides school can facilitate a better working relationship. It can also be a boost to a student that needs appropriate adult attention and approval.
Obviously, if you choose to do to share your website with students, you would use or create a site that is appropriate for your students to access. Students do not need to access your personal site. You can create one just for them. As a teacher you should also consider whether putting intimate and personal details about yourself on any website is a good idea. You may believe that what you're doing is personal and private, but the reality is that nothing on the internet is private. Your information is easily accessible and easy to share with others.
The rule in Lamar is pointless. Common sense should dictate how you interact with a student on any level. I believe that, if challenged, Lamar does not have the right to put a rule like this in place. The content of your communications with a student are the issue, not the tool you use to communicate with them.
Teachers that are having inappropriate communications with a student do it at school, after school, at school functions, etc. Using a social networking sight doesn't create the problem of inappropriate communications.
If anything using facebook, or myspace, would only make anything you're doing more obvious since others could read it.