Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Social Networking Quandry

I do many different things with my time in a desperate attempt to make a few dollars. Amongst the long list is teaching alternative high school kids. Though if you ask the little darlings, they think they're all grown up. They also think I'm old, even though I'm not quite 30.

Anyway, a slight dilemma has come up of late and I'm still mulling over what to do about it. As the title suggests-- "suggests" like a pair of furry handcuffs "suggests" night time entertainment-- the issue is related to social networking. It does happen, on occasion, that I make a connection with one or more students in my class. And one of them will ask if I'm on myspace (or, less frequently, on Facebook.) While I'm not currently on myspace, I have considered putting up a page as a marketing/ networking tool. Facebook is not as bad as I thought it would be. Let's just not talk about those damn games on Facebook...

I'm not opposed to "friending" my students. Thinking about it, I've tentatively decided that I would wait until the student was no longer in my class. Avoid the appearance of impropriety. Okay, fine, fine.

But my social networking includes quite a bit of overlap from my writing life. For example, my Facebook profile has my blog posts set up in a feed, which does allow readers who visit Facebook but not this blog to still read my writings. Great.

But-- another but-- not all my writing is... "school appropriate." Now, if I wait until the students are graduated, 18+, etc, then technically, there's nothing inappropriate. But something just seems a little weird about that. While the public scandal and controversy would likely do well for getting my name out there, an eternal challenge for new writers, it could, however, seriously jeopardize my high school teaching career.

Though, I think I gotta be doing something write if kids who "hate school" want to friend their teacher on a social networking site. I just don't know how to handle it. Right now, I'm going with the indecision as a decision making technique-- do nothing and hope I can figure it out later.


sayssara said...

I can see your dilemma. Probably a good policy to not 'friend' your current students, until they become ex-students. Here in the UK, teachers are actively discouraged from setting up any pages on social networking sites to avoid any difficult legal situations that may arise (according to a teacher friend of mine).

With regard to students finding and reading your writing, perhaps you can put a 'adult content' disclaimer or some such on the pertinent content. Then at least you are protecting yourself.

Jamie D. said...

You might be able to set up filters, so that your students would be in a "student" group that can't actually see your blog feed (I think you can filter them that way...all the filtering options are on the "friends" page I think). I have filters set up for media reps who follow me (I work for local government, don't want everything I post to friends and family to somehow affect my job in some way). They can view certain information about me, but not my wall posts.

Or you could just set up a secondary facebook page specifically for friending students...that way you could be absolutely certain they wouldn't see anything you didn't want them too, but you'd still make them feel included too.

Social networking is just problematic...seems like it's necessary these days, but we have to be so careful with it to... *sigh*