Should Teachers Have Facebook Profiles?

Should teachers use Facebook?

It’s a highly debated, hot topic in the education industry and while most schools have social media policies, others are still in the process of creating them. Some school districts, like Lee County Public Schools in Florida, have gone so far as to ask teachers to “defriend” students because they believe that teacher-student communication via Facebook is “inappropriate.”

Hundreds of teachers across the country use Facebook to engage their classrooms and strengthen their bond with their students. Facebook pages managed by teachers may answer questions about homework, host photographs of classroom activities, or serve as online communities through which to speak to parents about upcoming assignments and projects. While there is nothing wrong with utilizing Facebook for these purposes, many teachers are advised against it and are asked to use school-owned websites instead. Still, many teachers trust that most educators are extremely careful online and that it is important to embrace technology outlets as learning tools.

However, posting names or photographs and videos of students may pose legal risks for both the teachers and school districts involved. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of guidelines that every educator should keep in mind when using Facebook, or any online community forum:

  1. Maintain privacy settings. Check your Basic Directory privacy settings to ensure that your personal information is protected and kept out of basic web searches. Plus, consider disabling your news feeds.
  2. Generate an effective password. Read our blog about how to create an effective password and manage your passwords to protect yourself from hackers.
  3. Think before you post. Even if your account is private, don’t share anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want to share with your entire class. This is called oversharing and can lead to threats or personal attacks online.
  4. Avoid negative chatter. Don’t speak negatively about your school district, coworkers, school administrators, Board of Education, parents, or students.
  5. Don’t friend students. This goes for current and past students that have not yet graduated. Avoid communicating with them, sending or accepting friend requests, posting on their walls or getting involved in a student’s personal life. Resist the urge to respond to any negative comments that were posted about you or your teaching abilities.
  6. Establish boundaries. Either by letter or in-person, communicate your (and your school’s) social media policies to parents so they are clear on what to expect.
  7. Create alternative communities. If your school allows it, try establishing an online bulletin board or forum on a school-based website so your kids have a safe place to communicate with you outside of school hours.
  8. Google yourself. With a quick Internet search, you can find out what your students and their parents know about you. If you find inappropriate public content, act swiftly to remove any unwanted material.

We want to hear from you! How do you feel about this controversial topic? Are you a teacher using Facebook? Does your child's school have a social media policy? Do you believe teachers should be allowed to use Facebook for classroom use? Get involved by leaving a comment below.

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