stach
 
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 04:17 am
I have come across the Facebook issue about teachers having their students as friends at this web social tool. And someone on the internet said an interesting thing. Teachers are role models so their students shouldn't see their teachers' pictures on which they are drunk or embracing someone who's not their spouse. Interesting. I am a teacher, I have a facebook account and I have about 50 students there. It wasn't my ideas to add students. A colleague became a facebook friend and I noticed she has loads of students there. As I was new to Facebook, I thought it meant they are REAL friends. They weren't. Students would just pop up everyday on her facebook to request friendship which she immediately confirmed without hesitation. I asked her: Do you think it's a good idea to add students as friends? She said> I only post neutral things, so it doesn't matter. Neutral, I wondered. Anyway, later as I became her facebook friends, I got dozens of friend requests from my students too. But I didn't know whether I would post only "neutral" things. Heck, what is neutral, anyway?

Then I talked to a British colleague who is really young, unlike me, he's still in his twenties and he said he would never allow students to see pictures of him being high or drunk or kissing a woman who is not his partner, etc. I wondered. Am I going to post such things?

So it seems Facebook can serve as a realistic mirror of our life - when we party a lot, drink a lot, kiss a lot, we tend to post such pictures. Yes, I wouldn't feel comfortable if my students saw me sniffing coke. (The second part of the last sentence is just an example , the first is true.) Someone said teachers are role models. Don't show your students what you do in real life. Something sounds a bit odd here, something doesn't sound quite right about this statement.

First off, if a teacher has his or her life upside down, what kind of teacher could it be, anyway? Can you trust such a person? Can a student trust a promiscuous, drug addicted
nutcase, no matter how well the teacher hides his "qualities"?

So I was thinking, is there something I am willing to share with a couple of friends and not with my students? What would it be? I have nothing to hide. What I actually hide is something I hide from everyone. It is the privacy part everyone has and won't let anyone see it, friends or not. But other than that, everything else is just a life, sometimes difficult, sometimes nice.

If we believe in "role model" philosophy where an adult pretends he or she is perfect and sticks to some principles, while his or her real life is in mess, I don't know what kind of people you expect to raise like this.

I remember I respected and trusted my parents until I was 13. For me my parents were perfect role models. Until the day I found a porn magazine in their bedroom. My role models were shattered. Ever since, I didn't trust their moral authority. Now, as an adult I have no problem with porn magazines, but as a child, I thought, and the one I found
was really hardcore, my parents failed to maintain their moral authority.

As a teacher, I don't want to make this mistake so I talk to my students absolutely openly. I tell them about all my weak spots, mistakes, doubts, dreams, I don't pretend I am a perfect, strong, sure adult and can lead them to become just like me. No, I tell them I sometimes drink, I tell them I used to smoke pot, I tell them I have broken up and am sad. It seems this works better than hiding something all the time. I feel the students trust me and paradoxically respect me way more than those colleagues who act like role models and students laugh at them. I once asked a student, why do you think my students respect me and don't seem to respect some teachers who act "more professionally"? She said because we feel you don't pretend. You are what you are and you act just like that and we appreciate that."

I am not saying teachers should go out and drink and tell their students about it. There are lots of teachers whose lives are very stable, balanced and dignified. I respect and admire such people. They don't have to pretend anything. Such teachers are respected automatically, too, as the students feel they don't act, they really are such moral people, both at school and in their free time.
 
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 05:53 am
I see it more as a boundary issue than a role model thing.

A teacher may be friendly, and may reveal soMe things about their private lives and real self, buit having students as friends on facebook type sites is just silly, in my view, and highly unwise.
stach
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 06:52 am
@dlowan,
silly and highly unwise, why - i would have to see some bad effects to find it silly and unwise, but before i see such effects, i have to try it

maybe it has something to do with superiority - sometimes we make friends with our bosses, and although they are our bosses, we can forget the roles from time to time, have a drink and chat with them just like equal friends, isn't it about flexibility in switching from equality to superiority positions? likewise, a parent is superior to a child, but in lots of situations they are equal, i think children should learn to be flexible and learn when it is time to obey and show respect and when they can relax, just my opinion

my colleague who started it is a hard working, mature, responsible teacher and is in my opinion even too strict with students, yet, she has tons of them on her facebook - i wonder what that means - but as she said - "I post nothing but neutral things there". She posts the usual stuff though, pictures from parties and hugging her friends there.

OGIONIK
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 07:58 am
@stach,
censoring reality.


? censorship only begets ignorance.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 08:09 am
@dlowan,
i think it also depends on how you interpret fb function. for some, there's work and there's outside of work private fun life. they don't mix. for others (me included), fb is actually also work - i use it to network with colleagues, contacts in foundations etc... and also (now) former students, who will soon be out there doing what i do and similar things. my pure fun is here on a2k, on FB i am somewhat guarded.
gets tricky sometimes, because i have israeli and palestinian "friends", armenian and azeri "friends" - so to maintain semblance of neutrality sometimes requires moderating not only what i post, but also what gets posted on my wall, etc. So.... depends what you need and want i guess.
OGIONIK
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 08:16 am
@dagmaraka,
i posted i did drugs on myspace, my family was all like DUBBLE YOO TEE EF?


sort hilarious cuz i dont care : D
0 Replies
 
stach
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 08:38 am
Yes, the thing is what we choose to write and post, like in all life situations our actions have consequences so we should bear that in mind before we do something. The point is, are students somehow excluded from the world of adults? I mean is there something that adults may know about me that students should not know?

dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 08:47 am
@stach,
for me it would be a simple no = i generally don't post anything that i would not want to share with my students...though they are on college level. But people feel differently and that's OK, matter of personal choice, I think.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  2  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 09:05 am
@stach,
In my opinion, in a perfect world a teacher is a good role model and conducts hmself/herself in a way that sets an example for the students and somebody for them to emulate.

There are many things about you that adults may know that your students should not know other than in the most general ways: i.e., your political views, your religious beliefs, your social ideology. Neither adults nor students should see you in a state of public drunkenness or conducting yourself in a way that you would not be proud of your pastor, your neighbor, your children, your boss, your prospective boss seeing you.

Using a rhetorical 'you' here:

You should be teaching your students that there are consequences for behavior, and inappropriate photos on Facebook or My Space or anywhere else can come back to bite them in most unpleasant ways. Again you lead by example by not posting such pictures.

You should not be a pal or buddy to your students and they should not see you in that light. You should be their teacher, their facilitator, their advocate, their leader who pulls them into a world of education, critical thinking, analysis, ability, and preparation to live productively and effectively in the world of adults. As an imperfect being you will sometimes fall short of that ideal, but for your own sake and theirs, you must remain apart from them and be somebody that they respect and fear, in a good way.

Put yourself at their level so that they see you as nothing special and no different from themselves, and you lose your moral authority to be their teacher or somebody they should want to emulate or learn from.

dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 09:18 am
@Foxfyre,
pssst, stach, what do you teach? i myself work at an association for history educators of europe.
caribou
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 10:04 am
For me, facebook is like being in a crowd.
Whatever I say or do on facebook, everyone will see. So I behave as if I was in a crowded room and not drunk.
As in real life, the majority does not see me let loose, only my close personal friends. And those friends I talk to, see and privately email. I don't need facebook to stay in contact with them.
0 Replies
 
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 10:42 am
Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think it's appropriate for teachers and young students to be "friends". The line of authority gets blurred and it seems today that it's blurry enough. I don't agree with 10 yr olds calling teachers by their first names for the same reason. You have to have some authority over the kids you're teaching. You are NOT their friend; you are their teacher, not just an authority figure, but as you said, a role model, of sorts. They need to be able to respect you and there's something about a little bit of mystery which aids in this. If your life is all over Facebook, that mystery and distance is gone.

And as for Facebook, if you ARE drinking and carrying on, why would you want the world to know? Just don't put anything on there you wouldn't want the world to see, period.
OGIONIK
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 11:36 am
@Mame,
i think that line of "authority" is what hinders education.

anways, i heard a judge say school isnt so much about education as about learning to conform to society and obey authority, and something else btu i was like good game.

no wonder i excelled in my learning but failed school.

everything i know i taught myself.


Or that issue where a teacher said a kilometer was longer than a mile, and a student corrected him, and the tudent was rpc'd for not listening to his authority, regardless of the issue.


**** that, he needs to be shot in the nuts.
0 Replies
 
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 03:26 pm
With Facebook, you should set up a limited profile that way if you choose to add students you can choose to give them a limited access to your information/photos/etc.

T
K
O
jespah
 
  2  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 04:12 pm
@Diest TKO,
Or just not use your real name. I've friended (I play games so I have a kajillion "friends") people with surnames like Snoopy, D. and Methorfan. I am highly suspicious as to whether any of them are real names. Wink

Anyway, I kinda think the pedestal is a bit silly. Teachers are people, or at least they were the last time I checked. If they engage in poor judgment, then that's bad but hey, it happens. People get drunk, people sleep with someone they are not married to, people do things that aren't perfectly wonderful.

And I think that teachers doing that does not diminish them or at least should not. I think it makes 'em more human. I mean, wasn't there a topic fairly recently asking who has had the "privilege" (their word, not mine) of knowing a medical student? Well, if you know a medical student you may very well know someone who, in the future, will cut off the wrong leg or will accidentally write the wrong prescription or will miss cancer in an early stage. Or maybe someone who is competent but officious and not listening to patients. Yeah, those types of doctors exist, too, and it's silly for us to pretend that they don't. Just as it's a lil silly to operate under the assumption that a teacher would never (oh, the horror!) wake up next to someone and not remember their name, or own up to having smoked a joint twenty years ago.

If it does not affect education (and that's the question and the big caveat), then I say there is no harm. One thing that I would be concerned about, though, would be if not every student was friended. Only the favorites? Only the butt kissers? Only the girls? Only the boys? That could get very unpleasant and complicated. Students need to be on an equal footing in the classroom. Everyone must feel that they have the opportunity to succeed. Little Joey may be smarter than little Susie but if Susie works hard, she needs to feel that she can be rewarded for that with a better education. Susie does not need to feel that in order to keep up with Joey that she has to friend her teacher or otherwise suck up and get closer. That's where I can see the need for line-drawing. But can teachers join Facebook or the like? Of course they can, and I say they should have fun as far as they feel they can be open about themselves (or not) and we need to not see them as somehow being people who have never, ever seen (or used) a beer bong.
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 04:23 pm
I dunno, Jes. Of course I can't speak for the current school age generation or your generation, but in my generation there were teachers who conducted themselves beyond approach, behaved professionally at all times, and who were able to strike terror into the heart of any student with merely a stern glance. They demanded excellence and rewarded it, and made the effort to help all students willing to do so to achieve it. We adored them and busted our butts to earn any crumb of praise from them.

But the teachers who were careless in their appearance or language or were too casual with the students and let slip too much of their personal lives and activities were never as effective nor as respected if they were respected at all. And I, as an immature teen, didn't care if I impressed them with good work or not as I didn't see them as anybody who gave a damn.

Maybe it's different now. But especially now I would want my kids and grand kids to have pure professionals for teachers. The teacher's personal achilles heel or lapses in judgment or less than professional behavior should be kept separate from the kids. They need leaders/mentors/role models, not buddies as their teachers.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 04:38 pm
@Foxfyre,
I remember most of my teachers as being the above reproach crowd but this was also before Facebook, etc. The Chem teacher who kinda lazed around was still someone we worked for. Maybe not as hard, I can't recall, but I think we still had respect for him.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  2  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 06:47 pm
@Foxfyre,
i had very different experience. the best teacher i ever had and the one i most respected and in fact revere to this day was the one who sometimes stayed after school with us, taught us how to appreciate music (i was 9 but to this day i listen for what she tought me in classical music), brought us to the woods with her husband on the weekends (yes, those were different times), invited us to her house on plenty occasions. she was very personable, warm, and infinitely wise and kind.

i don't believe terror and distance of an authority is the most effective way to learning and role modeling.
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 08:12 pm
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre said:
Quote:
I dunno, Jes. Of course I can't speak for the current school age generation or your generation, but in my generation there were teachers who conducted themselves beyond approach, behaved professionally at all times, and who were able to strike terror into the heart of any student with merely a stern glance. They demanded excellence and rewarded it, and made the effort to help all students willing to do so to achieve it. We adored them and busted our butts to earn any crumb of praise from them.

But the teachers who were careless in their appearance or language or were too casual with the students and let slip too much of their personal lives and activities were never as effective nor as respected if they were respected at all. And I, as an immature teen, didn't care if I impressed them with good work or not as I didn't see them as anybody who gave a damn.


But maybe there's some sort of happy medium. It doesn't have to be all one way or the other. You don't have to be all stern and strike terror to be effective, but on the other hand, if you don't communicate that specific demeanor, it doesn't necessarily mean you're using your classroom as a confessional and careless in your appearance or language.

As far as the topic goes - I wouldn't communicate with students on facebook. I don't have facebook - so I wouldn't even know how in the first place, but I would definitely keep my professional and personal life separate.
That's not to say I don't engage with my students as people. I have done activities with my students such as Dag mentioned - kids who haven't had a place to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas have spent it at my house- I've taken kids on trips with me to see my parents at Easter. One of my former students calls my mother and father grandma and grandpa. The kids I work with need more than lessons in math and grammar.
But I'd never party in front of them.
And I talk with my adult friends very differently than I'd talk with them.

Many of my former students have my contact details and personal e-mail. I just heard from one yesterday who I haven't seen in over a year.

But I don't really do anything I'd be embarrassed for them to know about me doing at this point.
I just wouldn't do the facebook thing because it could be misconstrued by parents- which brings me to an important point. I've never taken an e-mail address or given an e-mail address to any student until or unless I have had oral or written permission from the parent if the student was under eighteen.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 08:46 pm
@dagmaraka,
Lord...I don't believe in terror either

And I think deep involvement with students is great

Still think facebook type engagement is fraught with problems though
 

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