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Should Teachers and Students Be “Friends” Online?

Teachers are getting fired for their online relationships with students.

While most educators behave appropriately online, there are a few who don't.  And as the saying goes, one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.  It only takes one teacher appearing on national television not using common sense online to taint the perception of educators across the nation.  It is because of this that school districts across the US are scrambling to create policies that limit or ban conversations between educators and students via texting and social media platforms.  Today school districts are trying to balance not only cyberbullying, but also freedom of speech and rights of privacy.  The latter two don't just apply to students but to educators as well.  Research is revealing that educators are being fired because of what they're posting and doing online. 

In order to protect themselves, many school districts require teachers to sign some form of acceptable use policy regarding electronic communication use.  Most school systems warn teachers to use caution when communicating with students online and to be wary of what they post.  Teachers who behave inappropriately or have online pictures of themselves drinking, partying, etc. could face termination.

So, how does all of this affect you?  Where do you draw the line?  Should your child's teacher be his/her "virtual friend"?  The answer may not be straight forward because it all depends on who you ask. 

Proponents of educators using social media platforms to communicate with students argue that technology is a great teaching tool.  They feel that social media is a positive way to connect to students in the world they live in.  Students are online so much that closing a door to reach out to them is an opportunity missed.  Plus, they feel that restricting their access to communicate online infringes on their constitutional rights. 

Teachers not only teach content but they also instill values to help their students become outstanding and productive citizens.  Educators teach youth by their own examples.  Home and personal life don't need to spill over into the classroom.  So teachers need to establish boundaries and keep their private lives, private.  Aside from family, teachers spend the second largest amount of time with teens.  They need to realize that they are role models both inside and outside of the classroom.  Educators play a pivotal role in shaping the youth of today.  Their job is invaluable to our society and should be one of the most respected positions in our nation.  

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