Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reevaluating Student/Teacher Relationships... via Facebook

Gretchen's status: Gretchen Marie is still trying to decide how to approach being a teacher on Facebook.

Social medias such as Facebook have completely revolutionized the way we deal with relationships across the board. You are now not "official" until your relationship is there for all the world to see on Facebook. You are not "friends" until that relationship is concrete and the person is added to your friend list. And of course no day would be complete without the obligatory mundane status updates.

Although I fought this invasion into my personal life for quite a few years, I finally succumbed to the madness about three years ago. And even though I'm on the old side of college life, I still consider Facebook for my generation. I'm still almost a student, right?

Except then I noticed that all MY students are on Facebook. And they all want to be my Friend.

Now don't get me wrong. My Facebook account isn't juicy by any stretch of the imagination. But there's still some line I'd like to draw between what my kids know about my personal life and what they'd see if they were my friends on Facebook. Some questionably written wall posts. Some pictures of me at parties. Even some pictures of me with, gasp, BOYS.

My unwritten rule when I was still a student was that I would not friend my teachers until I was out of their classroom AND if I had had a bit of a personal relationship with them. As I was a grad student, I had fairly good relationships with most of my teachers. And then there were my TAs in some classes, who happened to be some of my good friends in real life... Grad school gets complicated when it comes to teachers and friends.

So when 50 or so of my girls started sending me friend requests on Facebook, I had a decision to make. Should we be "Friends"? Should I take our student/teacher relationship to a whole new level and give my kids a new outlet for pestering me about grades?

I decided that no, I did not want to be a Friend to my girls while I was still their teacher. But... I won't be their teacher anymore in a grand total of four days.

So I've already created a group that will SEVERELY limit their access to anything personal on my site. They will be able to see my information and send me messages. And that's pretty much it. No pictures. No wall posts. Nothing remotely juicy.

And no student/teacher relationship to influence. Besides, it will be a good way for me to stay in touch with my girls.

Bring on the Friend requests.

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