Being Facebook friends with former students?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by bewlove, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    Jun 25, 2015

    What is your opinion on this? I taught 4th grade, so these are relatively young kiddos.

    I got about 5 friend requests when the school year ended that I had no intention on approving from these kids. Even though they were my former students, the fact that they were still students in my district made it questionable to me.

    Now, I have a job at a new district, so I won't be watching these students progress through the grades. What is your honest opinion on accepting their friend requests? I obviously don't want to do anything that would get me in trouble, but I would love to be able to stay in touch with them and watch their accomplishments through years to come.

    Honest opinions?
     
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  3. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

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    Once I left my last district, I had 2 high school students friend request me. I accepted them both. However, I had a horrible relationship with the school; friending those students would have been a drop in the bucket of everything I did "wrong" according to that administration. I don't think I would do it if I were you. First, I think 4th/5th grade is wayyyyyy too young for Facebook. Second, it seems like you have a good relationship with the former district. I think your admin would not look favorably on social media relationships. I might just send them a message and give them your email if they want to talk to you.

    My favorite high school teacher always used to say "I'm in the phone book" when we asked if we could keep in touch. I always liked that because it put the onus on us to make contact.
     
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Never accept friendship requests from former students. No exceptions. That was what HR taught us, and it is important enough that it is repeated every year. I believe they are right. When my son was younger, I feel that he probably reached out to teachers, with no bad motives. They all did the right thing and ignored his requests. Now he is a teacher, and we have had this talk.
     
  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Not a chance.
     
  6. OhThePlaces

    OhThePlaces Cohort

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    Absolutely not.
     
  7. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    I can not believe kids that young have Facebook!!!

    I am Facebook friends with the parents of my former kids, but I used to work in daycare so these rules were a little more lenient. We weren't friends when I worked there, but I have since left/moved so I am now friends with all of them. I love getting updates on these kids (they were my favorite class...), but I don't think I would ever be friends with my actual students if I taught older grades, even college aged students.

    I am friends with some of my high school teachers, but I only sent a request years after college graduation
     
  8. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I accept once they graduate. One of my former second graders announced today that she and her husband are expected a boy.
     
  9. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    I teach high school, and I have a rule that I will not friend them until after they graduate. The only three exceptions to this rule are: a student whom I was friends with (because we show horses together) years before she ever became a student. I'm friends with her mom too. Then there's the foreign exchange student whom I friended after she went back to Germany. And there was a student from Zimbabwe who moved to Florida. She's graduated now, but I friended her when she was still a high school student in Florida.
    Once they graduate, I'll accept their requests. Some teachers in my school friend current students, but I don't. I am friends with a lot of their parents though.
    I love keeping up with the kids after they graduate. I get to hear about their time in college, their careers, weddings, babies, you name it! Some of them have done tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, and it's amazing how they'll contact me just wanting to catch up.
    They'll always be my young'uns.
     
  10. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    Jun 25, 2015

    Okay! Thanks! I did not accept the friend requests. I agree it's young.

    I'm kind of nervous about providing an email for them at this age, too.

    I feel bad not providing an explanation. I certainly would love to know how they are doing! I just don't want to do so in any inappropriate way.

    Side note....I did notice that several of the teachers at my school last year did accept their requests and were friends with them.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Some people drive drunk, too. Doesn't make it right.
     
  12. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I don't have FB, but many of my co-workers are FB friends with former students who have graduated which seems to be seen as "ok."

    I might say it would be fine if the former student was now a grown adult or at least over 18.

    But, I think you would be crazy to be friends with any under-age child - unless family - as a teacher on FB.
    Just my :2cents:.
     
  13. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    Yeah. I was so surprised to see so many of my (old) fellow teachers friends with them on there. I thought it was common knowledge not to friend a student.

    I just wasn't sure since I wasn't part of that district anymore.
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jun 26, 2015

    Excellent analogy! :)
     
  15. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Jun 26, 2015

    I agree with the not-before-graduating thoughts...and even then, I say only when there's a good reason behind it. I am friends with a couple old teachers on there, but they are ones I went back to visit throughout the years, and actually have become somewhat of a professional help as well, since I'm in teaching.

    Granted, times have changed, too. I was just a year out of HS when the craze started...back in the college-students-only days ;)
     
  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This.
     
  17. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Our district policy is "not until they graduate" but we run in to issues when we have students that are also relatives and/or close family friends. I wait until they've graduated, and then I keep them on a separate FB list that is blocked from seeing nearly everything I post.
     
  18. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Once they have graduated high school, and only if they request me, and only if I actually knew and taught the kid.
     
  19. tiki7719

    tiki7719 Companion

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    This is a good idea.
     
  20. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I don't have anyone under 21 on my friends list. I think having a separate page is a good idea.
     
  21. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I'm also an advocate for waiting until they graduate. I've become good friends with a couple of my former students who have grown to mature adults. One of them met me for lunch last week before his Army unit deploys to Germany for a year. Meant the world to me that I'm one of the people he HAD to see. That being said, there is no way I would accept a request from one of my former students who is still in my high school. They have been told it's a privilege that comes with maturity.
     
  22. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Wait until they are older. Truthfully, I don't think fifth graders should be on FB:2cents: and they really don't need to know what you are doing in your time away from school. If they still want to be 'friends' after high school, that would be a better choice. :2cents:
     
  23. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I teach college, so it's different for me. My current students are required to follow me and each other on Facebook and Twitter; I put extra credit and all kinds of information on there. It's the 21st century - I require my students to be current and maintain an online presence. I also want them to be aware that a smartphone can be used for much more than just texting, music, and pictures. I would, however, NEVER allow an elementary or high school student to follow me.
     
  24. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I'm in the minority that I accept fb requests from any parent who wishes to read about my cats, bikes, and related misadventures.

    My rule (and this rule applies to any minors, whether they are students in my district or not - even family) is that I only accept friend request from anyone under 18 if I'm also friends with their parents and their parents are fb friends with them.

    I have, on occasion, received a friend request from a former student and subsequently sent a request to one of their parents stating that I got a request from their child and what my rule was. I've considered doing this in all cases, believing that it might be important for a parent to know that their kid is out there sending friend requests to adults.
     
  25. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I don't accept any really though I've only gotten a couple since I keep myself hidden on facebook. They have to find me through another teacher. And it's only if they've graduated. Many of them still have siblings I'm teaching, so I don't like it anyways. I tell them once they graduate college it's okay!
     
  26. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    This is much different than elementary or even HS students still in school. Mamacita, you could probably go out drinking, legally, with your students, and you are maintaining an online relationship in an educational sense. You are using their internet presence to enhance your teaching.

    I don't believe that you would do the same with minors, and that is really the question. Minors may take things out of context and create wrong impressions. I see that as very problematic.
     
  27. platypusok

    platypusok Companion

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    I live and teach in a small community. I'm friends with quite a few students and parents-as are other teachers and admin in the school.

    I get why others don't want them on their facebook. But if they want to see what books I'm reading (my facebook is linked to Goodreads and a lot of students and parents are my friends there too) or pictures of my nieces and nephews, then they're in business.

    A lot of students follow me on twitter as well. I don't tweet a lot (except during Walking Dead and the NBA/NHL finals).

    A lot of students also follow me on pinterest. And again, all they are going to see is a lot of chicken recipes and grammar/literature jokes. Actually, a handful of students send me pins on pinterest-either grammar/literature jokes or sometimes stuff they want to do in class.
     
  28. tiki7719

    tiki7719 Companion

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    What if your students do not want a Facebook or a Twitter account? Are they not eligible for extra credit? This seems a bit unfair to be penalized for not having or wanting (which is becoming more popular) social media.
     
  29. ChildWhisperer

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    I am wondering the same thing. Even in this day and age, I still have many young friends (in their 20s) who choose not to have a Facebook or have since deactivated their accounts.
     
  30. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    We were required to have a twitter account in one class I took. I have no idea what he did if someone refused, but knowing the department, I'm guessing it was a zero for that assignment. I made a special account for that class only. We used it to practice lead writing.
     
  31. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I was thinking the same thing. I had FB during my Freshman year of undergrad - 2003-04, when it first came out - and deactivated by summer 2004. I have never been on since and would be upset if I was told I HAD to have an account during my undergrad or grad years. Same with twitter which I have never even wanted to join.
     
  32. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    I am friends with some of the parents of the kids who requested me. I still didn't approve them, though. I just don't want to get in trouble.

    I completely agree about after high school being a good time. :)
     
  33. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I would wait until after H.S. graduation, too.

    Side note - I'm surprised your kids have Facebook. My 5th graders this year informed me that Facebook is "not cool" and "for old people." :D lol!
     
  34. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Why? Are Facebook and Twitter against some people's religions?

    The only concern I would have would be if a college professor were requiring students to friend them via their personal accounts.

    Otherwise, a person just sets up an account, posts nothing that isn't class related and uses a profile picture like the one I use here (minus the beard and glasses).

    Facebook isn't Facebook if you don't post your face, and it's not twitter if you don't tweet. (Taylor Swift can use that as a lyric if she wants).
     
  35. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    My new district doesn't allow us to have any students on facebook. You can lose your job over it. My last district never said anything about it. I'm sure people had students as friends on Facebook because it was a small town where everyone knew everyone else's business.
     
  36. Rox

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    Jun 27, 2015

    I have a classroom Facebook page, so it's silly to not accept friend requests from students. However, I made it with a separate, work account, not my personal Facebook account. If there were any accusations, I would happily turn over my login and password to the district. It's been helpful when a student claims another student posted something about them. While we are not the Facebook police, we can help students learn netiquette.

    I have a colleague who fought to get her district to allow her to create a Facebook page for her class, and when they finally allowed it, her students said "We don't use Facebook anymore. We use Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram." So now she has to fight to be able to use those too. It's a never-ending battle.
     
  37. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Accusations of what? The only thing I can think of would be inappropriate private messages. But that's very easy to prove or disprove because Facebook is one of the most transparent social media platforms around.

    They do have Facebook accounts. They just don't use them to post anything they don't want grandma to see. That means they don't post very much.
     
  38. Pi-R-Squared

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    I have neither asked to be friends with my current and former students AND rejected all friend requests sent by current and former. IMO, there's a professional distance that one needs to maintain. Besides, I don't need or want them peering into any private matters that can turn into whisper chatter and then something could be blown out of proportion because a student saw a picture of me drinking beer! And, I also like my job where it is. A good 35-45 minute drive away from where I live. Me personally? I leave my job and keep as much of it there. To go online to see it "work life" wouldn't make sense.
     
  39. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    My policy has always been to accept friend requests from former students only once they have graduated high school. Every year there were at least a couple students (4th-6th graders) who wanted to be FB friends, but our district policy was that teachers and students were not to do this. I explained the policy to the kids when the issue came up as a safety issue for both them and me. Only a few kiddos have come back after HS to friend me, and I always accepted those requests.
     
  40. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Yes, I have a lot of former students as Facebook friends.

    However, my oldest former students are 40 years old. I even work with some of them, and I'm friends with others in real life.

    As far as minor students, if they are on my list I know them somehow outside of school (church, neighbors, cousins, friend's kids), and they do not get access to most things I post.

    I've got over 1000 friends, and I somehow know them all in real life. Most, however, don't see much I post. Only about 20-25 people are ones I'd consider actual "friends" and see everything I post.

    I live and work in the same small town where I grew up. Maybe that makes a difference, too.
     
  41. Rhesus

    Rhesus Comrade

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    I accept FB requests from my former high school students only after they have graduated.
     

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