If I had a million dollars, I'd build you a school.

Friday, August 8, 2008

From the Archives: Students and Teachers in the Facebook Age

I've mentioned before that since I started this blog, I have been keeping an archive of articles and blog posts that I think might someday give me an idea for a post of my own. Generally I do this by emailing myself the links and archiving them in gmail under the label "blog ideas." My goal for these couple of weeks before faculty meetings was to work my way through some of those archived articles. I clicked on the "blog ideas" label this morning, and gmail brought up 120+ emails, so I guess I've got my work cut out for me.

Down near the bottom of the list was this Washington Post article about young teachers getting into trouble because their Facebook profiles contained information, language, or images that their schools (I think rightly so) found inappropriate for people working with children and teenagers. The article got a lot of attention in the edublogs when it came out, and most of the discussion centered around trying to define appropriate internet behavior in the Facebook/MySpace age.

The article strikes a chord for me now as I am gearing up for my job at a new school later this month. The school describes itself as "unconventional" in a number of ways, one of the most obvious being the basic relationship between teachers and students. Students call all their teachers by first names, and this is symbolic of a general atmosphere in which the students see their teachers more as friends in a cooperative activity than as authority figures. At this point in my career, this will probably be as big an adjustment as it was at 21 to walk into my first classroom, where students were expected to stand every time I entered the room, and become Mr. K------ for the first time.

Based on the day and a half that I have spent on campus at the school so far, this more informal relationship between teachers and students seems to work well for this particular school and for the environment that they have created there. I'm not sure it is something that would generalize to all school environments. For me, the main challenge is going to be rethinking and redefining my own relationship with the students, and finding that line where friendship ends, and authority begins. Fortunately, my Facebook profile doesn't say anything about me sleeping with a hooker, so I'm a step ahead of some people already.

What do you think the ideal relationship between teachers and students is?

1 comment:

Melissa B. said...

I think they can strike an amiable, professional chord if each group treats the other with respect. Yes, I dislike surly students; but at the same time I have great disdain for teachers who feel so about it all they treat their charges like insects to be squashed. BTW, don't forget to Share the Caption Love! It's that time again: Time for the Silly Summer Sunday Sweepstakes--come play along!