Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Facebook Impressions

I have quite a few teacher friends on Facebook. The other day I was looking through some of their profiles and photos. Most of them have pictures of their children or vacation sites, but there were a couple whose photos showed them at parties.

Now, I know these teachers and I know that they do not party all the time. They are hard-working, concerned educators who would do anything to see their students succeed. And yet their photos would give the impression that all their free time is spent consuming beer and posing for silly photos. There was one set of photos where the teacher had a beer in her hand in almost every picture.

I'm a firm believer that a teacher should be able to live his or her private life in whatever manner they choose, but posting photos on Facebook suddenly makes a person's private life very public. And if the teacher has chosen to "friend" any of his or her students, those students are going to have a very different impression of their teacher.

I know how students talk about their teachers. They're always trying to find out about their teachers' private lives and share the information with their classmates, friends, parents, and family. One student I had in class about 5 years ago worked at the local grocery store. On one occasion, I had purchased a box of Garlic Mashed Potatoes. She waited on me and evidently thought Garlic Mashed Potatoes was an odd choice for a teacher because she announced to the entire class the next day. Even today, when I see her at the store, she'll check my cart to see if there are any Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

If she was this concerned about one box of instant potatoes that a teacher had in her grocery cart, imagine what the student say about a teacher whose every photo shows him or her drinking. I personally think it should be the teacher's private affair, but once it's on Facebook, it's public. Teachers across the nation have been fired or asked to resign because of incidents like this.

All teachers should please rethink the items they post on Facebook. They should also reconsider "friending" students. It's a dangerous combination that could cost a teacher his or her job.


  1. Excellent point. Teachers who friend studnets (as I do) need to realize that doing so makes Facebook an extension of the classroom. Everything that is said or posted by and about the teacher is now in the classroom. That's not inherently bad, but it's something that needs to be understood.

    And the same goes for the students!

  2. To Jason Sterlace: I just worry because students (and their parents) so often misinterpret the words and actions of their teachers. It always amazed me how students could twist something that was said, something that then had to be re-explained to parents.