A reader known as “randolphparent” posted a comment on my previous post about Facebook and our RCS Facebook page that warrants further thought and discussion. “randolphparent” says,
Having a school facebook page is a great idea.
However, is it necessary to unlock it for the children at school? Should children be on facebook during school from their phones/schools computers? It happens, the proof is out there.
How about the teachers that have students as ‘friends’ on their personal pages? Is that professional behavior? I could see a ‘class’ page to be checked from HOME.
Let’s take the two points raised separately. First, there’s the question about unlocking Facebook at school. I have written here often about my own belief that filtering and blocking is not the solution for our kids, but rather teaching them to use the web effectively and appropriately. I don’t know how we do that, how we have the necessary discussions that help them to understand any potential problems they can encounter on the web, if we block and filter. I also know that teachers are absolutely responsible, first and foremost, to engage students in learning. If a teacher creates a classroom where kids have an opportunity to sit on their phones or on-line on Facebook or any other website–instead of focusing on learning–then we’ve got a bigger problem than filtering, don’t we?
Having said that, I have wrestled with the idea of, “what purpose could it serve for a kid to have access to Facebook during the day?” I’m not sure I can answer that with any concrete examples, yet. I just know that our effectiveness as teachers depends largely on our ability to connect with our students. That was true when I started teaching in 1989 and it’s true today. If Facebook is one of the primary ways our students are connecting then I want in on that, I want to learn more about them, and I want a chance to influence their thinking.
Which brings us to “randolphparent’s” second point, what about teachers “friending” students on Facebook? And using it professionally? Adults are using Facebook in many different ways and our teachers and staff have to understand the appropriateness of the content they put out there on Facebook if they are “friending” students and their parents.
Just like I wouldn’t want our teachers to swear or drink a beer in front of our students, I don’t want them portraying all the parts of their personal life to them on Facebook. The line between personal and professional life is blurring and it’s up to every individual to think about that when they post content on Facebook or anywhere else.
Personally, the RCS Facebook Page makes this all easier for me as an educator. I don’t “friend” RCS students, staff and community members. Why not? Frankly, I’m already here 9-12 hours per day and what I do the other 12 hours of the day is my business. If I’m at a Sabres game with friends and someone posts a comment or a picture about our time there, I just don’t think anyone needs to know where I am and what I’m doing 24/7. I like having a personal life when I can just be Kim with my friends and family. A time when I’m not the superintendent of schools, I’m just Kim, helps me to return to RCS refreshed and ready to face whatever work brings.
If teachers are using Facebook to connect with students and to post in a professional way, I think that’s terrific. But “randolphparent” is right, it needs to be done professionally and with reason or it shouldn’t be done at all.
But hey, that’s just what I think Readers, what do you think?