This is tricky. What may seem to be just a friendly ' add as friend', could end up as some kind of 'exposing of privacy' disaster.
I personally ask some of my students about this and some students commented that it's actually quite a thrill to track the details of their teachers. Photos of teachers in sloppy state or inappropriate poses. It's just too bad for teachers who feel unjust about this, but we are teachers and we need to maintain our image. Afterall, students need us as role models.
hmm well at the end of the day, this is subjective in different context.
I teach 5th Grade. There are times that my students do not recognize social stop signs and because of that I choose not to use social media with them other than a Website. I work hard to keep the Website up today and kid friendly for them.
I strongly believe that all parents should be their child's "Social Media Friend"!
My gut thought is NO, but I say this because I live in a small town very close to the school that I work in. Teachers are under a microscope enough as it is and to add another degree of scrutiny would be a bad idea.
With that being said if a social network could be set up that was just for you, your students, and possibly parents I think that could pay dividends. The trick would be not to have any part of your personal life cross over.
I feel that facebook is one more tool to be used in my classroom. I use it for homework help as well as for sharing ideas and current issues in science. I have my students grouped on facebook with strict privacy settings that I update regularly. My students are unable to see pictures, posts by others or comment on my wall. I am very careful about what I post on facebook and feel that I am a role model for my students in the very digital world. We tell them all the time to be aware of what you are posting and know that anyone at anytime can find that one picture of you or one comment you really never meant to put on the web. Why not lead by example??
I make it very clear that by sending me a friend request they know that I can see everything they post (unless they have figured out the security settings) and if they post something inappropriate or mean I will call them out on it. You can even set up your site so that you never even see their posts. So far, in 4 years, I have never had a problem. Student send me emails in facebook about homework question and I instantly can respond on my smart phone. Logging into our school student system takes time. Facebook is much easier to use and the students all know it very well. Some rules I have set up... A) Only friend my students (past and present), B) They send me friend requests and C) STRICT privacy settings for the group. Why is it that we teach our kids to be careful about what they say and do on facebook and then we as teachers post stuff we don't want them to see??
Other teachers and administrators think I am crazy. It is a slippery slope but I feel that we should not fear this technology and instead as innovative educators come up with ways to use it in the classroom. 90% of my students have Facebook accounts and use them regularly. Why not harness that potential for learning and use it? My students receive instant feedback form me since I too am on facebook almost everynight or have it pushed to my phone. It is apart of our society and instead of fearing that our students get to know too much of me as a human being, I allow them to get to follow me as I complete my masters, raise two young kids, work full time as their teacher and enjoy life. They see what life as an adult is all about and for some of my students what being a parent and a positive member of society looks like. To quote Yoda, "Good relations with the Wookiees, I have."
I believe that students and teachers should stick to a professional relationship. They can be acquaintances, but there should be a line drawn on internet relationships. This is a very tricky topic.
It's amazing how this conversation has moved along over the past few years.
All I can say is that I'm really glad I'm connected to a variety of students, past and present, using websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. On one level it has given me TRUE insight (not insight influenced by sensational media reporting) as to what students are doing in these spaces. Contrary to what the media might report, youth are using these spaces for creative and useful purposes like study and collaboration, commenting on the latest news of the day, mobilizing social justice campaigns (remember the 'wear purple day' in support of LGBTQ youth last fall?), socializing in healthy ways with friends, connecting with family members, playing games, sharing photos, etc.
The experience of connecting with students in a variety of ways and spaces allows me to talk intelligently to other adults about what students are doing with these powerful communication and collaboration platforms.