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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why can't we be friends?

There has been a lot of discussion in the wake of the new law in Missouri which bans teachers from "exclusive” interaction between teachers and students on Facebook both positive and negative.   (Click here for video.) Some praise the law as making the internet a safer place for our children, while others criticize that it brands all teachers as sexual predators.  I know there are lots of teachers doing great things and making great connections with students using social networking and also understand that there is a line.  I can very clearly remember my first principal (in 1977 before social networks) telling us that we should not be “friends” with our students-they have plenty.  I also am aware that there are plenty of things that go on in our students’ lives that we are unaware of and we might better be able to make connections with them by understanding the whole child.   With that, as a long time union president, I have seen that mixing your social life with your professional life can be risky.  Teachers’ behaviors are held to a very high standard, most students are shocked to even see us at the grocery store.  Does Google+ make it easier for us to keep our social lives separate from our professional lives by allowing us to create circles?  Are laws such as this really necessary?  How will these laws be enforced, will all teachers’ online social accounts be scrutinized?  I would like to get my students to do some critical thinking about these issues.  I am interested in gathering all stakeholders' perspectives – students, parents, teachers and concerned citizens to help them create some viable solutions.

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