Student-teacher Facebook friends

Jan 28, 2011, 2:37 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

facebook-teachersThree New York City teachers have been accused of sending sexy pictures and inappropriate comments to their students who were their Facebook friends. In Pennsylvania, a teacher was suspended after students saw photos of her on Facebook posing as a stripper. An Oregon teacher got in trouble for offering extra credit to students if they accepted a friend request.

Should teachers and students be friends on social networks?

“Students are friending teachers and teachers are friending students, and I highly doubt there is a person in this room who knows how prevalent it is because it is a private social network,” says Steve Horris.

Steve and Glenda Horris are Seattle Schools parents who testified at a recent school board meeting, saying they are appalled that the school district doesn’t have a policy preventing teachers and students from being Facebook friends.

“An immediate ban should be put into place that bars teachers from accepting friend requests from students and from offering friend requests to students,” he says.

Why? What’s the problem? It could lead to inappropriate sexual comments and behaviors, Glenda Horris says. It also could be a way for teachers to show favoritism. It’s a way of having high-tech teachers’ pets.

“If I were a high school student trying to get the best grade possible so I could get into the University of Washington or Harvard and I knew that my teacher was friends with a handful of other students on Facebook, I would wonder if they were getting preferential treatment with grades, recommendations, etcetera,” she says.

“I agree with that sentiment actually and one has to be very careful about those sort of things,” says Seattle science teacher Noam Gundle. “It’s impossible to like or interact with all your students equally. It’s just impossible.”

He has had students friend request him on Facebook.

“I just say no. Being an educator you have to have boundaries with students,” he says.

There’s another side of this issue. Teachers should be able to have a life outside of the classroom. It’s strange enough for students to see their teachers at a grocery store, or movie theater, or anywhere outside of the school building.

“If I want to have my own free life outside of teaching then I have to put up some boundaries,” says Gundle. “I do a lot of things, including my work with the union, that don’t really involve students.”

School boards all over the country are trying to figure out how to deal with Facebook and other things like texting that are now a part of most students’ lives. Schools in Salt Lake City Chicago have banned online interaction between students and teachers, including emails.

Seattle says it will NOT ban Facebook interaction, but they do instruct teachers about appropriate use of social media.

AD: Learn more about protecting your kids on Facebook through Social Shield.

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Student-teacher Facebook friends