Top 12 Global Teacher Blogger Discussion: October

Can social media have a role to play in managing a successful classroom?

Social media can be used in certain classrooms successfully. If teachers need to send out announcements, Facebook and Twitter meet students where they spend much of their time. There is no better application available to send out last-minute reminders or changes of plans.

The biggest fear in a school setting seems to be that teachers and students would become friends on social media, and that friendship would cross professional boundaries. Although I am aware of the problems that issue has caused, I don’t believe in punishing everyone for the bad judgment of a few individuals. I would rather see social media decisions made on a case-by-case basis, bringing dignity, respect, and trust back to the profession.

Along those lines, there is a way to create social groups without teachers and students becoming “friends” on Facebook. A teacher could post a notification to a group, and all the students in that group could read the notification without being able to see the teacher’s personal page and posts.

It doesn’t come as a big surprise that teachers have to bear the brunt of the burden for monitoring students’ online behaviors when social media becomes part of the classroom. Unfortunately, it seems that teachers are expected to have the bigger “parenting” role in a child’s life than the actual parents. It has never been a good idea to let children (up to 18 years old) have free reign on the internet. Because of parents’ lack of guidance and involvement with their own children, schools have had to make blanket rules to protect themselves from lawsuits.

Even though I’m in favor of using Facebook and Twitter in certain situations, I also believe that social media, smart phones, and texting erode necessary social skills. People, in general, have forgotten how to talk to each other; eye contact is at an all-time low for those who primarily communicate with hand-held devices. Social media has also damaged students’ abilities to check their email regularly, to write respectful, intelligent emails to their teachers, and to use school websites to locate information.

A possible solution to some of these issues could be for schools to create classes on how to use social media responsibly and appropriately. Students need to be aware of the ramifications of misuse but also of the benefits of worldwide tools. Schools could also offer night classes for parents so that they can learn more about social media and monitoring their children’s behaviors.

Now, to contradict everything I just said, I don’t believe in making students’ lives easier than they already are. Becoming responsible adults means that they have to move out of their comfort zones. Just because they are on social media all the time, doesn’t mean that the world needs to revolve around them. Making students work for their information is one way the current adults are going to help the current “entitled” generation break free of this debilitating mindset.

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