The short answer…no. A teacher/administrator/school employee must maintain a clear line between professional and personal. A parent should also maintain a clear line between parent and friend. Once those lines become muddied, it’s all too easy to cross the line into inappropriate. It is far too easy to post photos and/or status updates without careful thought as to all the eyeballs that will see them. This can lead to unintentionally offending or accidentally hurting someone’s feelings. For teachers, there have been several cases already involving teachers who posted comments or pictures that have lead to employment termination. Yes, freedom of speech is a protected right in the U.S., but it doesn’t give the right to anyone to run into a building and yell “bomb” without consequence. If you choose to cross those lines, be wise about what you post.
As a parent, I don’t want to be Facebook friends with my kid’s teacher. I don’t need another Facebook friend. The teacher is there for my child, to teach. Whether I like her or not is of no consequence so long as my child is learning and is happy in her class. Of course, it is very important for me to develop a good rapport with my kid’s teacher, but there are plenty of other forms of communication through which I can do this–email, in person, hand-written note, voice mail.
As an education professional, I don’t want to be Facebook friends with my students’ parents. I am there to serve as an educator and advocate for the students. I like to look at us, the parent and me, as teammates working together to ensure the success of the student. Educators can create a Facebook page for a class or a school and use that as a tool to engage parents. This is a good use of social media while maintaining the line of my personal Facebook community.
When is it ok to become Facebook friends? Once the school year is over, and there isn’t any likelihood that your child (or any of your other children) will have that teacher again. I have made some great friends with a few parents of students who attended the various schools where I worked. However, those personal relationships always developed after I left. It’s natural to hit it off with certain parents or teachers because after all, they are people with personalities, opinions, and interests that may align with my own. That can be a nice foundation for a friendship IRL (in real life) or on Facebook.
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