Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Technology and Teachers

Long story short, it has recently come to my attention that texting, Facebooking, tweeting, and other such social networking is being used as a means of communication between teachers and students.

I happen to disagree with this method. In fact, I'm quite surprised how strongly I feel about this. Three short years ago I remember being in school and explaining to my professors (mainly the Grad students) that they could contact me by email, but I did not text. You can imagine the horror upon their faces that I would refuse to text.

I especially disagree with this method concerning high school students. If you have something to say to my high school student you can do so by calling the family phone, emailing them through a school account, or the traditional send-a-letter home. There is a certain professionalism that needs to be held between students and teachers.

You are the teacher, a symbol of authority and a mentor to young minds. You are not their best friend. There is no need to be friends with them on Facebook, text them messages concerning homework assignments, or let them follow your Tweets of what you are eating for dinner. In fact, I as a mother, would not believe my child if they said that a teacher had Tweeted no homework for the evening and you can better believe that I will not let my child give out their personal cell phone numbers, that is assuming I let them have a cell phone.

I don't know how many states have laws or policies concerning things like this but I can tell from news stories and comments from friends who are now professors/teachers that this is becoming a valid problem . Am I turning into a stick-in-the-mud? Maybe, but I really believe the teacher-student relationship is one relationship that should not be relaxed due to technology.


  1. This is a really interesting question to me. On the one hand, I think that faster methods of communication are great; on the other, I want to be able to disconnect the technology and have face-to-face uninterrupted time with my friends and family.

    Back when facebook was only for college students and faculty, it helped as a networking tool to find others in your class, find out about missed information or assignments, and for the professors to have an additional means of communicating--not a different means. I kind of liked that. I stopped using it shortly after it spread beyond high school students with .edu addresses.

    Texting is fine, for short communications when a phone call might be bad, like from a hospital room or with a sleeping baby in your arms. But I honestly don't give my phone number to anyone I don't want to have to answer the phone for 24/7, other than for the requisite forms filled out at the doctor's office, for example. And texts from those sorts of contacts would strike me as odd and unprofessional. I do text, unlike you, but rather infrequently. I certainly use at least a dozen each month, but I've never hit that 200 text cap that we pay for (mostly with Daniel, for trying to plan things when a kid is asleep on me).

    And twitter? Are you kidding? Just no.

    Any of these formats are fine for a communique regarding school closings or important, generalized info, but I would also expect there to be an email containing the same information, and to me, as the parent, not just to my child (the student). I'm not okay with my kid's (theoretical) cell phone number being in the student directory, but at the same time I'm not sure I want mine there, either. It will be interesting to see how these sorts of things pan out as more and more households don't even have a centralized/land line phone anymore.

  2. I couldn't agree more. I keep thinking about what it's going to be like when my children are teens and I don't know if I'm ready to have to deal with it. It's just ridiculous that they are using social networking sites for things that should have a higher standard of professionalism. I could go on, but you said it really very well.

  3. At the very least, I don't love the idea of everything going through the student-teacher communication route vs the student-parent-teacher triangle. Such personal forms of communication seem to just be asking for inappropriate relationships, in my opinion.

    I agree about the higher level of professionalism being a must-have too.

  4. Keys has a facebook account and is "friends" w/ her orchestra teacher. He only uses FB to communicate w/ the students about reminders on rehearsals and contest that are coming up. He sends the parents emails,to keep us informed. The one thing to remember is the computer is not the childs "private" place. Everything that comes on the computer, I have a right to see, sorry that's just the rule in the house.

    Students really don't use their emails much, FB is where you can contact them. It's just a fact of life, in this computer generated age. A teacher does not have the time to call 150 students individually to tell them something is coming up. Be an active parent in your childs life and know what is being said on FB.

    now with that being said, I can't stand people texting to each other when they are in the same room, or texting while they are out to eat. It's rude to be texting when someone else is sitting at the table. Also when I was YW pres. The girls were to turn off their phone or give the phone to me.

    One last thing and then I will quit the RANT.
    I have never allowed our phone numbers to be in the school directory. O sure I'v heard the typical response "how will your children's friends get a hold of them?" my response was if my child wants someone to call they will give them their phone number. With texting, our kids were to tell their friends not to text them. There friends are good about respecting that request.