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Since the times when Facebook and other social media networks gained

popularity, the word friends has evolved. Along with the traditional meaning, it
also started to mean people whom you get online updates and messages from,
whom you inform about your recent activities, whom you get in touch with
virtually, and so on. At the same time, a friend on Facebook can actually be a
random person, a stranger whom you have seen only once or twice. People add
new friends easily; this is related especially to teenagers and students, who
tend to friend everyone they meet, including their teachers. Some people see
it as a positive sign, assuming that virtual friendship will help make studying
more fun and simple. However, there are strong reasons behind teachers
decisions not to add students as friends on Facebook or other social media
The most significant concern is privacy, and perhaps teachers are more
vulnerable in these terms than teenagers. Through Facebook and other social
media platforms, students might learn details from the lives of their teachers
which they are not supposed to learn: information about intimate relationships,
vacations, and so on.

Teachers should monitor photographs posted of themselves online and not

connect with their pupils over social media to avoid becoming victims of cyber
bullies, the Education Secretary has said.
New guidance for teachers will advise them to avoid accepting friend requests on
Facebook from current and former students and not to connect with them via
It will also say that schools have a legal duty to protect their teachers from online
The advice comes as it is revealed that one in five teachers have been targeted
with derogatory comments by pupils online, the Independent reported.
Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, said teachers need to be comfortable
that their schools would take action if they fell victim to cyber bullies.
She said: 'We all know the dangers children face from online bullies but we but
we sometimes forget that teachers are not immune from abuse which impacts on
them professionally and personally.'
The guidance, due to be published by the Department of Education, aims to
safeguard both teachers and their students from online trolls.
A survey by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers,
recently found that one in five teachers had been subjected to abuse online.
This may have been in the form of derogatory comments and in some cases had
affected their teaching careers.
In one example a pupil had tweeted: 'You are a paedo and your daughter is a

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Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College
Leaders, said cyberbullying can have a 'pernicious impact.'
The guidance urges teachers to ensure their security settings online remain high,
as well as those of family and friends to avoid embarrassing photographs and
information being accessed by pupils and their parents.
Teachers are also advised to search for their names online to see what has been
posted about them - including photographs and comments and ensure snaps of
them drinking or at parties are not readily accessible.
Department of Education advise urges teachers to avoid befriending current and
former pupils on Facebook
Department of Education advise urges teachers to avoid befriending current and
former pupils on Facebook
In some instances teachers can fall victim to the actions of scornful parents who
search for compromising photographs online and then send them to
headteachers in revenge for their children being disciplined or left out of sport
The guidance will say this type of abuse could constitute a crime.
Teachers can be particularly vulnerable to the abuse via RateMyTeachers - a site
which allows pupils to post derogatory remarks about their appearance and
performance in the classroom.
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The White Rhino: A Chicago Latino English Teacher

Contact Ray
Teachers should not be Facebook friends with students
By Ray Salazar, April 8, 2014 at 7:08 pm
A New Hampshire substitute teacher lost her job because she would not unfriend
over 250 students on Facebook. Stevens High School officials gave the 79-year-
old substitute Carol Thebarge an ultimatum after another teacher was charged
for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student. According a the New Hampshire
Valley News, Thebarge posted on her Facebook account: It has been a sad day
for me . . . I have loved to share pictures of the cats, my grandchildrens
achievements, and the wisdom I have gained throughout my journey. I have . . .
always considered my site and messages those of Character Building.

Im certain Thebarges intentions were sincere, benevolent, and inspiring to

many young people. This sounds like another situation of an innocent person
suffering a consequence because of someones elses careless, inappropropriate
behavior. One student is talking too muchthe whole class gets punished.

Still, it's inappropriate for teachers to have Facebook friendships with students.

Facebook is an online social space. The site is intended to help people connect
with family and friends, not with professionals. I bet few of us are Facebook
friends with our doctor, for example. If teachers interact with students as we
share family photos, poolside or at a holiday party, or post jokes that may be
suited for close family and friends, we build unprofessional relationships with
school-age kids. In fact, Facebook friendships between teachers and students
contribute to the de-professionalization of teaching. We become their friends
not their teachers.

These Facebook friendships create misguided opportunites for students to

announceHey, Teachlooks like you had a great party Saturday! How much
did you drink?
Or Hey, Teachlooks like youve been workin out. I saw your Miami beach
pictures. Nice pecs.

Or Hey, TeachI see youre no longer in a relationship. What happened?

It also creates uncomfortable opportunities for us, the teachers, to see our
students questionable posts: partying, smoking, participating in highly
questionable situations in their teen world. So whats a teacher to do if he sees
15-year-old Johnny or Janie from 4th period post a picture of him or herself
smoking weed? Or what if 18-year-old senior Jose or Maria posts a revealing
photo after his or her work out?

Were strangely entering their world and theyre entering ours. Were becoming
peers, confidants who must keep secrets. And there are just some things we do
not need to know about our students and some things they do not need to know
about us.

Sometimes, we must remember, our students dont even have their own parents
as Facebook friends.

Despite the arguments that Facebook friendships help build teacher-student

relationshipsthese online friendships are inappropriate.

Now, I am Facebook friends with 11 former students. I accepted these online

friendship requests (that they sent, not me) after they graduated from high
school. All of these former students are in their early twenties or thirties now.
These are students with whom I had a stronger mentor-mentee bond. I continue
to get plenty of former students request me as a friend but I click Not Now.
Almost none of my current students send me requests. Ive done a good job, I
think, of setting teacher-student boundaries.

The Chicago Public Schools official policy articulated at the 2012-2013 principal
training specifically says, All employees communicating with students via
electronic means must do so using CPS network systems. I know. I know. Its a
CPS policypeople dont like those. However, teachers should not be Facebook
friends with studentswe need to be their teachers, not their friends.

So whats a teacher to do to stay in contact responsibly with students?

If you sponsor a sports or club, set up an organization page on Facebook that
people can like. This allows the teacher to post updates and pictures easily.
Students who belong to the team or sport can also post and stay in touch with
Use your districts emailnot your cell phoneto communicate with students.
The only time Ive given students my phone number was when I took a small
group to see Sting at a Printers Row event last June. They were getting there on
their own; we had to find each other. I wanted to make sure they got home
safely afterwards. But we never communicated with each other after that. I
didnt have to tell my students, Dont text of call me. They knew. They didn't
have to tell me either. I knew.
Use your schools Website to post homework assignments and clarify questions.
If lots of students have lots of questions each evening about homeworkyoure
not doing a good job of explaining it during the school day or maybe youre
making bad choices about homework assignments.
The substitute who got fired for not unfriending her students had an easy
solution: set up a public individual Facebook page Ms. T: the Caring Substitute,
that students could "like." She could, then ,still post her photos, students and
anyone else could have "liked" them, and she could have kept her job.
Technology will always be part of our world. But, as teachers, we must find
solutions to help us succeed with it.

Remember to submit your vote for my Bammy! Award nomination in the blogger
category--scroll down on your phone or look on the right if you're on a computer.

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To friend the teacher or not to friend the teacher, that is the question.

The school year is right around the corner and the safety of all children is on the
forefront of our minds. We think its time for all parents to think about boundaries
between students and their teachers.

Teachers are in the position of role model for our children, no matter what your
childrens ages. In todays world our childrens teachers are using technology.
While technology is advancing the age of children, its use is starting younger and
younger. Many teachers use technology in the classroom and your children need
to be up to speed on the latest and greatest that is out there.

Children need to be 13 years of age to be on Facebook, yet we all know children

as young as 9 have their own pages. Children have a hard time understanding
the consequences of their actionsfriending ones teacher is something a kid
might do, just like they might friend a relative, an older cousin or their older
brothers friend. From a childs or teens perspective, a teacher is someone he or
she sees daily and feels connected to. Perhaps the teacher has encouraged the
kids to be in touch via Facebook to get questions answered or extra help.

It all sounds good, right? Wrong. Facebook is a social media network, a place
where a teacher wears many hats. We are not even talking about impropriety
here, we are talking about common sense privacy and professional boundaries.
Do all teachers think to themselves before they post a picture or make a
commentwhat will my 7th grade students think about this? Is it appropriate
for your 6th grader to know that her teacher spent the weekend away with her
boyfriend? (Nothing wrong with Teacher spending the weekend away, but is it
necessary for your sixth grader to know how her teacher spends her weekend?)
In todays complicated world, it seems more and more that teachers are crossing
boundaries with students. Not a day goes by that we dont see a news story
about a teacher, coach, or other trusted adult molesting, sexting, or using other
inappropriate avenues to get close with a student through technology. Now if
teachers are reading thiskeep in mind that we are teachers too, and we believe
that most teachers only have the best interests of their students in mind and
would never cross inappropriate boundaries. But in this day and age, there are
many that do, unfortunately. Because of this, we believe that teachers and
students should NOT be friends on any social media sites.

Our children are growing up in the digital ageless is more, faster is better, and
to catch a childs attention, teachers must be on the cutting edge of technology.
But that doesnt mean that the students understand what is in their own best
interest. Many wouldnt think twice about friending a teacher on Facebook. It is
the teachers that need to put in some thought, recognize their professional roles,
and realize the risks they open themselves up to by friending students.

There are a myriad of options online for todays teachers to reach out to their
students without crossing professional boundaries or perhaps mistakenly
showing favoritism. Teachers creating a class website that reaches out to the
whole class, including parents, can be an effective form of communication and
have tremendous benefit to children.

Since there is still much to learn regarding social networking and

professionalism, we need to tread carefully on the subject. Some school boards
in various states have even created policy to address the issue.

Our solution: Teachers should not be friends with their students! They should
be mentors, role models, and guides for our children.

Teachers deserve to have a life. They have every right to post pictures, talk
about their lives, and do whatever they want in their own social networking
realm. But I dont want my child to see it or be a part of it because when they do,
they become a part of it too. And that, my friend, is how the boundaries
become blurred.