That’s right, Missouri becomes the first state to pass Senate Bill 54 forbidding teachers to add students to their Facebook friend list. Not strictly with Facebook though, but teachers are prohibited to have contact with students with any private social networking website. Although this bill sparks some disagreement, I can see how this was made for everyone’s best interest. With extreme cases popping up all over on the news, this is one step to protecting teachers and students from saying or posting something they might later regret.
I know that many teachers use Facebook as a means of helping students with questions or homework and that’s okay. But there are other options other than Facebook that are more open and accessible to everyone (i.e. parents). Such sites include Edmodo, Glogster.edu, and Voicethread. Even a simple blog is more public and open than a private social networking website. When you think about it from another perspective, teachers are already forbidden to be in a closed classroom alone with a student. The door must be open at all times – even if it’s something as simple as tutoring, it’s ultimately for the good of the teacher. So why put yourself in a position as isolated and private as Facebook?
When I had first been accepted into the Education Faculty, we were all lectured on the importance of protecting ourselves. We were strongly encouraged to adjust the privacy settings and even change our last names to just an initial so that our students wouldn’t be able to search us. Teachers also need to be extremely careful of what photos they are tagged in, because you never know who might see it whether it be a student, colleague, parent or superintendent.
The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to let your students know right from the start of the new school year that you intend to keep Facebook and school separate, and that if they do need to contact you, they may do so through the class blog (for example) or make a lunch time appointment – as long as communication is open.
Better safe than sorry, right? Let me know your own thoughts!