By Emily Vaughan, Buena High School, Sierra Vista, Arizona
It’s Facebook official; teachers and students are now “friends”. Facebook has become a whole new form of communicating outside of school. From relaying messages back and forth about assignments to keeping in touch after graduation, Facebook brings a modern twist to the teacher/student relationship.
Jamie Handling, English teacher, thinks it is acceptable to be friends with students on Facebook. “I don’t see a problem in it as long as it’s not abused,” said Handling. She also says that Facebook helps when students have questions about homework or projects. “It is just another way for us to communicate.”
When students begin to post inappropriate things though, Handling is sure to take herself out of a situation that may cause her to feel compelled to report the things she sees. “I unfriend any students who may have questionable posts and photos to avoid being placed in an uncomfortable situation,” she said.
Max Melder, sophomore, says he believes it is okay to be friends with your teacher. Melder is friends with his ninth grade English teacher on Facebook.
“I don’t think it is a big deal because my teacher would always post assignments, and I could use it as a reference. If I needed help, I could message him, and he would help me,” said Melder. He does not feel uncomfortable having his teachers as friends. “I never say bad things on Facebook so I don’t mind if my teachers see my posts. I think it’s important to have a respectable social life.”
Junior Kory Stilwell also thinks there is no problem being friends with teachers on Facebook. “I think it’s perfectly okay to be friends with teachers because there is nothing inappropriate about it.”
He uses Facebook to talk to his teachers about work he’s missed when absent. Stilwell keeps his Facebook profile teacher friendly. “I want my teachers to think highly of me, so I try not to put unacceptable posts and pictures,” Stilwell said.
Brenda Kurtz, math teacher, is not friends with her current students on Facebook. Kurtz said, “It is hard to keep boundaries as far as student teacher relationships.” Kurtz prefers to communicate with students through the Buena website. However, in order to be a mentor, Kurtz is friends with her graduated students.
Brenna Slover, sophomore, does not agree with teacher and student being friends on Facebook. Slover says,” I think it’s weird because teachers are here to teach, not be your friend. Slover values keeping her personal life separate from her teachers.
The teacher/student Facebook relationship landed in the courts recently.
A new law was passed in Missouri which states that teachers cannot contact their students through electronic communications that are not monitored by a third party. This would include contact through Facebook.
The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act was meant to protect children from sexual predators at school.
A judge granted an injunction against the “Facebook Law” because of its “chilling effects” on the First Amendment and the Missouri Legislature later repealed it.the original article from hsj.org, written by Emily Vaughan