Teaching & Social Networking – Is It Do-able?

This was a post I originally shared with my students on my teacher blog.  It is something that I’m particularly interested in, so I wanted to save it on my personal blog as well as a teacher reflection.

Right now, in order to check my (or the school’s or county’s) Facebook page, I have to put it in a special username and password.  Why?  Because Facebook, and other sites geared toward social networking – like LiveJournal or Tumblr – are blocked.  These sites are deemed too out of control, too unprofessional, too irrelevant, and too controversial to be granted general access past our district’s firewall.

Certainly, teacher/student Facebook relationships have raised a veritable hailstorm of controversy.  (When Teachers Talk Out of School – NYTimes.com).  Pshaw, even things that teacher’s post on Facebook to their own friends – about school or about their personal lives – have become questionable.

The list goes on and on.

Now another teacher, Viki Knox, is coming under fire for “anti-gay” comments that she made on Facebook, objecting to a school display for National LGBT History Month.  The high school display honored gay and lesbian authors and artists who have contributed to great works of art, music, and literature.  Knox, made the comment that “homosexuality is a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation.”  She also said that she was “pitching a fit” in response to the display.

You can read about it here…and here…and here…:

This has, of course, raised tons of debate – both supporting the teacher’s right to free speech and against the teacher, saying that she couldn’t possibly perform her job while holding and voicing such opinions.  But, this raises several questions.

  1. Can Facebook and other social networks have a positive place in school?
  2. Should they be banned outright?
  3. Should teachers be held accountable for what they do outside of school?
  4. Do teachers have a right to free speech?

What do you think?

(Respond below by clicking on the comment button.)


About alburnet

New mom, new natural, and..for the last year...still a new teacher!

Posted on October 21, 2011, in Current Events Friday!, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Taylor Upchurch

    I do not believe facebook should be banned from schools. I believe it can be used in a positive way for schools, and teachers who have facebook should simply remember to be professional. Teachers should have a right to freedom of speech but when expressing your opinion you should do so in the least offensive way. Teachers and students need to remember there are boundaries that should not be crossed on facebook and other web sites.

  2. I think that teachers should have their own rights to freedom of speech, and if they want to have a glass of wine while they are vacation, who is the school board to say that they can’t. If they weren’t at school while doing this, then why can’t they do it, but parents who were complaining about it can have glasses of wine and that doesn’t make them bad people for doing so, but a teacher is a bad person. I do believe that there are certain boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed such as, inappropriate language, relationships with students, and just flat out rude comments. I think it is a teachers choice whether to have their students on their page or not, but they need to realize what should and should not be said to a student.

  3. Yes, I think faceboook can have a positive place in school if used the right way. I don’t think that it should be banned, maybe just have strict rules and keep an eye on what is happening. Teachers should be held accountable for what they do outside of school to some extent because they should have the right to free speech. Which they don’t have much of.

  4. It think that Facebook and other social networking can be a very positive thing but it can also be very negative in schools. I think that taking people’s right to having a facebook or a blog would be absurd and completely unnecessary. I do think that teachers should assure that their facebooks are one hundred percent private and should do their best to regulate what goes on their person site. I think that just like any other person teachers have their freedom of speech.

  5. 1. I think that Facebook and other social networks can have a positive place in school for example when trying to reach a long lost friend or just getting people to vote you for homecoming court.
    2. No they shouldn’t be banned.
    3. Teachers should be held accountable because they should already know what they are getting themselves into so it’s their choice on what they say if it be positive or negative.
    4. Everyone has a right to freedom of speech so yes teachers have the right t freedom of speech. But that doesn’t mean they should abuse that right and risk losing their jobs.

  6. As a student, I don’t believe that Facebook and other social networks could have a positive place in educational setting. Especially not in high school. Many children are verbally abusive, and do inappropriate things that ruin it for the “good” kids. Teens tend to be very immature when it comes to filtering their thoughts and opinions about others. If there was a guarantee that the majority kids would not be verbally abusive or inappropriate then Facebook and social networks should be allowed. But that’s merely impossible. I wouldn’t say to go as far as banning teachers from having these “pages” but having access to them in an educational setting is unprofessional. It’s my opinion that we should be able to have free speech. Everyone should be able to express themselves, in an appropriate manner.

  7. I think that teachers are supposed to stay professional because they’re role models for students. Some students don’t have good role models at home, therefore they look up to their teachers, so give them something to look up to. I understand that teachers have a life too, so facebook is just a normal way for them to communicate or vent, but just keep it professional. I think that teachers and students shouldnt be friends on facebook, but teachers should be allowed to have a facebook.

  8. In my opinion teachers can have a social networking site but they all have their limits. I think the only way they can friend or communicate with students is through school related activities such as clubs or extracurricular activities etc… If a teacher crosses the line i think they should be banned for good. Teachers can friend students after they graduate for them to keep up but nothing more. I mean teachers have their right of speech but they need to be professional and watch what they say. Teachers have their limits and so do students…

  9. I think teachers should not be allowed to friend or be friends with students on non-educational websites. I might not have had that same opinion about two years ago because I thought there was no way that a teacher would behave in these manners. I feel like showing yourself having an alcoholic beverage is not a problem at all. I feel like that is just a teacher being an adult; but it would definitely be different if the teacher had a picture of themselves passed out in the back of their car. That would show the students bad behavior. But since there could be assumptions, it’s probably best that teachers leave their Facebook strictly for non-students.

  10. Carley Branltey

    I think that everyone, including teachers, have the right to free speech. Since everyone has a facebook, and other social networks, it’s probable for students and teachers to be friends. I honestly don’t think that it’s a problem, at all. People are going to say what they want, and do what they want regardless if they’re friends on facebook. For people who do think it’s a huge problem, why not just let the teachers wait until the students graduate to send them a friend request? Teachers are a big part of a students life and while they have class together, they form a bond ( a professional one of course). Overall, I think students and teachers should be allowed to be friends on social networks.

  11. I believe Facebook holds a positive place in school. I know many school events are posted on Facebook to promote and inform students. Being that it’s a place where students spend most of their time, it’s a good place to get in contact with them. I feel society puts teachers or anybody over someone in a very odd position as if their not human. Just because your a teacher doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a say so or a social life. However

  12. Kellie Renee Brogden

    I do think that Facebook and other sites have a positive effect in schools. It is a perfect place to share events with clubs and peers in the school. Many people do not want to share their numbers with people that don’t really know, so Facebook messages and events are perfect for different information. I do not think it is fair to tell teachers they cannot have a Facebook. Teachers use Facebook to keep in touch with their friends just like everyone else. Teachers are humans too. I think it is up to the teacher as to whether or not they want to be friends with students on social networking. If they choose to friend a student, I think they should be very cautious as to what they say or post from there on out. I don’t think teachers should have any other regulations than other professions. However, I do think that teachers should be aware of what they are putting out in public for everyone to see. Teachers absolutely have the right to free speech but they also have to remember the occupation they chose and act professional.

  13. I think that social networks can have both a positive and negative effect in school. There has been a lot of problems lately at our school where girls are cyberbullying each other on these sites. That obviously would not have a positive effect on anyone. But then again, not everyone handles their problems in that way. On Facebook, you can create groups or events. A lot of times schools or other organizations will make a group to give people updates, or an event to remind people of something taking place that they need to attend. I think that is really convenient.

    I definitely do not think that social networking sites should be banned. That makes no sense to me.

    Teachers should have the right to free speech, but they should also have at least some filter. It’s one thing to talk to a friend privately about what one of your students said or how they were aggravating you, but to put it as your status for everyone to see isn’t really necessary.

  14. Ashlyn Eccleston

    I think that Facebook and other social networks can have a positive place in school, by keeping students posted about upcoming events such as meetings, athletic events and such. I do not think that they should be banned. Facebook and other social networks are mainly used outside of school and for people’s own personal and social lives. To some extent, teachers should be held accountable for what they do outside of school. If it’s something that the public will, or can, see and hear, then yes, they should be held accountable. I think everyone should have a right to free speech. But everyone is responsible for what they say. So along with freedom of speech comes the consequences you may face for what you do, or don’t say.

  15. Chelsie Gardner

    I personally don’t think that networking sites could ever have a positive place in school at all. I just think that people have a nature to be fake i guess you could say they want to separate school, professional, and work life from personal life. I don’t think though that if you are a teacher you shouldn’t be able to have a Facebook or another networking site I just think as soon as they are hired they should be made to put it on private. I do however think that they should be responsible for things that can be seen for the public because they chose to take the role of leadership and some things aren’t good leadership qualities. Because of this I think that they do have a freedom of speech.

  16. 1. I think that, yes face-book can be a positive thing in schools if it is used the correct way. This probably wouldn’t happen realistically so i think that school should stay away from FB.
    2. I think that if teachers want a FB then they should be able to have one. However i do not think that students should be allowed to be friends with teachers unless they have graduated.
    3. No i do not think that students should be accountable for actions they do in their personal lives unless they somehow affect the student body. If, for instance, a teacher gets crazy drunk and then shows videos to students or has conversations with students about the events then yes i think there should be some form of discipline.
    4. Teachers should have the same rights as everyone else. That also comes with the responsibility that all other people have, to not talk bad about others. If you are in any other company and you post mean things about a specific person there will be some form of discipline. Teachers also should not post things about specific children.

  17. – Social networks can be a positive place, if the people one associates oneself with are those of a unsavory nature, then one’s social network page will be somewhat covered in some negative posts. A social network page is where one’s own personal thoughts and feelings are made public. If one is going to post such negative things, then why be friends with one’s enemy?
    – During the day in school, perhaps the social networking sites shouldn’t be allowed at school due to the fact that it starts so much drama and starts many fights.
    – Teachers may be professional whilst they are doing their jobs, but outside of the workplace, if there is no link to the workplace and no students or anything like that, though there is a way to eloquently state one’s opinions and if the teachers want to rant and vent and rave, though everyone is entitled to their opinion, though there are places and times to express those opinions.
    – I do believe teachers have the right to their own free speech.

  18. Facebook and other social networking systems can be positive; they can have the same use for connection and education with students and teachers as educational websites. My school uses Facebook Group pages for clubs, such as Student Government, DECA, and Senior Staff, which is helpful for students who have missed a meeting or need to be caught up with. I do not think Facebook should be banned for teachers and other professional users. I believe they should act professional on their Facebook, considering they are at a higher level and everyone can possibly look at their page. I also do not agree that teachers should friend students while they are current students. After the students are out of high school, I think students are like any other person in the world, they are considered adults and should be allowed to be friends with students/teachers. I also understand that teachers are humans as well, but any professional employee should know that when they accept a job they are considered a role model and know what they post could be used against them. If they want to vent or have opinions they need to keep it to phone calls, or private messages. Once people are out of such a position they can post pictures or comments of whatever they feel, but as a role model need to stay professional.

  19. I believe Facebook can be used in a positive way in school. Almost everyone has a Facebook, so it can serve as a good communicating tool in school. It all depends on how you use it. I don’t believe Facebook should be banned outright. Teachers should be held accountable for what they do outside of school. They know the risk of posting the wrong things on a site such as Facebook. Teachers do have the freedom of speech, but they have to use it in a responsible way.

  20. I think that social networking can sometimes have a positive place in school. Certain clubs in school can post on Facebook the days they are having a meeting or a fundraiser they are planning. I know that our school has special events and it helps them to send out mass messages to the students at our school. I do think that teachers should be responsible for what they write on Facebook. I know that as a teenager wanting to go to college you are told to not post anything inappropriate that you might regret. Posting a photo of you drinking may be something that a college would not want to see. The same goes for teachers. You should act appropriately online regardless if you are an adult or a child. I do believe that teachers should have freedom of speech but they should still maintain tactful while they are on the internet.

  21. I do believe teachers and people in general have a right to their opinion, but I think people should act appropriately on social sites. Teachers shouldn’t be pressured to resigned or fired, like Ashley Barrow, because of a picture on Facebook. It is a personal page people can’t stop living life and sharing it with their friends. I do think it would be a better idea to only friend students after they graduate high school to avoid any confusion. Yes, I think networking can be positive for organizations within the school because it is an easy source to get in touch with others.

  22. After reading these few stories it’s clear Facebook is nothing but a problem for teachers. Even though teachers are just people like you and me everyone seems to think they’re not entitled to speak their mind and are judged severely on what they say and do. As much right as teachers have to create and use Facebook it’s always going to cause problems sometime or another. I don’t believe Facebook should be outlawed for teachers but I do feel they should know what’s appropriate and whats not and be able to handle the consequences when given.

  23. Facebook and other social networks can have a positive place in school. At my school, most all the student committees have a group made on Facebook to keep members updated. These groups are extremely helpful because I now always have somewhere to refer to for information incase I was to miss a meeting. I don’t think they should be banned because everyone has the right to free speech, even teachers. I don’t think teachers should be held accountable for what they do outside of school. Teachers are smart enough to know what should and shouldn’t be posted on Facebook. I don’t think teachers should be friends with current students at their school but once those students graduate I feel they have every right to do what they want. Teachers shouldn’t have to be on lockdown just because of there job. They have the right to post stuff on Facebook and even go out and party or drink ever once in awhile. But teachers know better not to do stuff like that in front of their students.

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