Kids and teachers are interacting. Everybody panic.
Unfortunately, too many are. Somehow, we’ve forgotten this is a cornerstone of being an educator. That a teacher’s role does not stop at the final bell. That a teacher is also a mentor, and sometimes that overflows into the hours beyond the given school day. And it’s been happening for decades.
Yet, somehow social media and electronic communications seem to suddenly change the landscape. Districts are scrambling to respond to what they fear is an inappropriate medium for teachers and students to use to interact. I’m not sure I get that.
Take, for example, the district I used to work for. They recently passed their social media and electronic communications policy, and the local paper reported it as, “Dist. 220 bans social media contact between teachers, students.” The problem is, take a look at their actual policy (5:135). It doesn’t. And it shouldn’t.
The logic cited behind banning such mediums is most often due to the danger and risk of inappropriate interactions between teachers and students. If that’s the case, then there’s a whole lot more banning that we need to do. Because what about the times when students stay after school to get help from a teacher? Or what about the times when students call a teacher’s classroom phone for help? Or what if a teacher tutors a student? Or what if a teacher bumps into a student at the local mall?
Each of the cases above have, at some point in time, resulted in inappropriate interactions between teachers and students. Yet, we’re reasonable enough to put policy in place that addresses the behavior but doesn’t ban all interaction. Because teachers and students need to interact. They must. And most teachers and administrators have the common sense to know how to put healthy boundaries and guidelines on such interactions. Guidelines that don’t require the entire ceasing of interaction.
I am aware that things are changing quickly with social media, and many districts feel the need to keep up with those changes. But before you put in a policy that might preclude your teachers from helping students by interacting with them in a medium that the students might prefer, consider that you might already have the policy you need in place. Take a good look at your policy, and I’m fairly certain you will find guidelines and expectations for teachers to interact with students in a professional, appropriate manner.
If you don’t, you have much larger potential issues than social media to worry about.
If you do, let those policies guide your teacher/student interactions, and let teachers keep doing what they do. Helping students when and where they need it.