Schools Discuss New Student/Teacher Policies for Facebook and Twitter

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In the classroom, it's a good thing when students follow along with their teachers, and it's even better if the class likes the instructor. Still, new considerations have arisen, as some see a connection on a social network being not much different than a teacher tutoring a student after school hours. The question of whether or not school administrators should be notified when a student "likes" or "follows" a teacher on a social media network is up for debate in the Miami-Dade and Broward County districts.

Today, Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado plans to bring a new policy that would prompt teachers to notify their principals when a connection on a social network is made with a student. In the Broward district, a community of parents, students and staff have likewise been developing a system of online etiquette to help combat cyberbullying. Jeanine Gendron, director of instructional technology for Broward County Public Schools states, “what’s appropriate in your face-to-face conversation with people, being respectful, and having good social etiquette, should also be followed online.” In Broward, the district's technology use policy hasn't been looked at since 1996, long before social media, smartphones and tablets were a part of curriculum.

Gendron states that no restrictions on student/teacher social networking have yet been implemented, and Regalado claims that she doesn't seek to limit online interaction, but would like to get a better picture of how many teachers are engaging in social networks. “We need that information. If the results come back, and only 5 percent of our employees have these links on social media, it’s not going to keep me up at night. If it’s 78 percent, then we have to have a serious conversation about what they can post for students to see, how they’re posting and assessing any other needs,” Regalado said.

Nationally, teachers have been getting fired over Facebook posts as of late. A schoolteacher in Maine recently posted nude photo of himself on his Facebook wall, prompting his resignation. And in New Jersey, first grade teacher Jennifer O'brian was fired for referring to her students as being "future criminals."

Parry Aftab, executive director of Wired Safety made the simple suggestion that teachers might set up separate social networking accounts for personal and professional use.

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