Monday, December 19, 2011

Are Students Your Friends?

Mine aren't, at least on Facebook. But I know a lot of people who feel and act differently, and that's potentially troublesome. When you read about teachers losing their jobs simply because they were seen drinking alcohol on a European vacation, and when you read that the geniuses at the DOE have seen fit to get involved:

New York City, the nation’s largest school district, has been at work on a social media policy for months, and expects to have one in place by spring.

You have to wonder how they will take a troubling situation and find a way to make it worse. I've absolute faith their policy will consist of the same draconian nonsense they've been spouting for the last decade. Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg, in his zeal to fire any teacher earning more than minimum wage, will simply declare he needs to lay off anyone on Facebook or Twitter. That will pretty much give him that blank check to which he's felt entitled forever.

Meanwhile, I'd advise you not to share photos like the one above on your Facebook page. As the woman pictured is a principal, she may fare better than you or I would. Nonetheless, it's not precisely the sort of photo I'd like to see of myself in the local tabloid. Are we entitled to private lives? Of course. But relying on the good folks at Facebook to protect our privacy is not what I'd call the very best judgment.

Kids can mistake their Facebook friends for real ones. Working people can't. While I've yet to hear of a city teacher being dismissed over some social media nonsense, I do know of one now-unemployed paraprofessional, for no good reason I could discern.

I'm friendly with my students, and I help them whenever I can. But I do it in person. Thus far I've friended precisely one graduate of my school. That's probably too much. But I never post anything truly private. If it were really private, why on earth would I be posting it on the internet?
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