Ask Jules: Should teachers let students follow them on social media?


Hi Jules: I am a teacher in a public high school and I am 34 years old. I currently use Instagram and Twitter after deleting my Facebook several years ago. When I started applying for jobs after college, I cleaned my Facebook of anything that could potentially incriminate an employer. Now I post photos of my kids and my life and the occasional political retweet.

Over the years, I’ve been friends on Instagram with current students, whom I’ve rejected. But I agreed to be followed by former students if they find me later. Other than a few likes of my posts, I haven’t had any interaction with them outside of that, and haven’t come back after any of them. Are there any potential downsides to letting former high school students follow me if they find me?

Digital teacher: First: It is very important to follow the social media guidelines put in place by your school and/or district. Otherwise, denying current students access to your platforms and unfollowing former students seems like a great approach.

When I was in college, one of my favorite professors defined social media boundaries with us the same day he reviewed the curriculum – don’t ask for it until at least five years after you graduate. high school, and even then he hadn’t decided if he would be ready to accept.

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It was quite proactive, as it was when Facebook was just beginning to peak in usage among older Gen Zers in the United States and when Instagram began to gain rapid popularity. To this day, I still believe that the limit he set remains the best for most teachers.

If you’re using social media for personal rather than professional purposes, today’s students have too many opportunities to take information out of context. And given today’s unforgiving online environmentI don’t think it’s a chance to take.

When it comes to allowing former students to follow you, the same issue can still arise, but I think the possibility is much less prevalent once they are adults and based on more life experience.

As for other potential downsides, I think there is a kind of mystique in the teacher-student relationship that can get lost once they are linked to you through a personal online platform. I realized this after following a few of my favorite primary school teachers, only to feel a little embarrassed when I came to the conclusion that it was better not to follow and let the positive memories of my time in their class. her own.

Relationships are meant to come and go, but with social media, they persist to an unnatural extent. We now have access to the realities of nearly everyone we’ve met, and they’re getting worse on our feeds over time.

As students who have never experienced a world without social media enter your classroom, establishing such a social boundary could be an important lesson to illustrate.

So that’s it. But I believe there are more and more nuances as the digital landscape and the education system evolves. In the same way that we’ve seen big-name teachers gain traction using social media to supplement their work, I think we’ll see many more primary school teachers using their social media platforms in a professional rather than a personal context. .

As for the platforms you decide to use in a professional context – be it LinkedIn, a separate Twitter account, etc. – I think it’s more than fine to allow students immediate access. Make it even public! We all need more nutritious content to consume!


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