Students, Teachers Are Friends on Facebook
COLUMBIA - It's easy for students to log on to Facebook to connect with their friends. It only takes a few clicks to view and post photos, write comments and 'poke' each other. But some students are also using Facebook to communicate with their teachers.
Should students be able to access their teacher's personal pages? Some students think it's a good thing.
"You get an aspect of their social life and we do see what their like outside of the school world" said Hickman High School Senior, Brooks Hedgepeth. He's friends with three of his teachers on Facebook and can see the photos and comments they post.
Hedgepeth also says it can be helpful when it comes to homework. "You can go directly towards them and a lot of it goes towards their phone and then you know, you can get an answer immediately. So I think it's wonderful."
Other students disagree.
"That's what you got a student e-mail for" said Hickman High School Junior, Audric Drake.
His classmate Demetrie Smith agrees, "If they got our e-mail, like on e-school, that's cool. But Facebook, that's a little bit too far."
Columbia Public Schools understands that there can be a positive side to students and teacher communicating on Facebook. "There is to some degree, because you look at how students are communicating and the on set of social media as a means of communication, that's important for there to be those open lines of communication. We just ask that those means of communication always remain professional and that they keep that student-teacher relationship clearly defined," said Michelle Baumstark, Community Relations Coordinator for Columbia Public Schools.
There can be problems when teachers grant students access into their personal lives.
"Even if the teacher doesn't put anything inappropriate on Facebook, they could have an old friend post something on their Facebook that they might not be so proud of, and a student could see that" said David Kessler Manager of Columbia Public Schools IT Section.
Issues like that caused the Missouri School Boards Association to set out a model guidelines outlining student/teacher relations regarding social media.
The guidelines state "Staff members may not:
1. Knowingly allow students access to the staff member's personal social networking website or webpage that discusses or portrays sex, nudity, alcohol or drug use or other behaviors associated with the staff member's private life that would be inappropriate to discuss with a student at school/
2. Knowingly grant students access to any portion of the member's personal social networking website or webpage that is not accessible to the general public.
3. Post information about identifiable students on a personal website or webpage on a social networking site without the permission of a supervisor."
The Columbia School District has not adopted this policy. Student's like Hedgepeth say that's a good thing. "I don't think its their judgment call, it's up to the teacher when it comes down to it" he said.
Columbia Public Staff/Student Relations
Kessler says some teachers have found a solution. They have created Facebook pages for class so that students are not accessing their personal pages.
The Columbia School District also encourages students and teachers to use district sites "Angel" and "Home Access" designed for student-teacher communication.
The Facebook and social media debate goes beyond Missouri. Four school districts across the country have banned teachers from being friends with students on Facebook.
Those districts and schools include, Grandite, Salt Lake City, Utah. Santa Rosa County, Florida. Western Placer, Lincoln, California and Chicago School District, Illinois.