The city has introduced its first guidelines for the use of social media by teachers.
DOE Employees should not communicate with students who are currently enrolled in DOE schools on personal social media sites.
According to the DOE guidelines professional social media use is allowed. The DOE has defined professional social media use as “…activity that is either school-based (a DOE teacher establishing a blog for his/her class), or non-school-based (a DOE office establishing a Facebook page to facilitate the office’s administration).”
Personal social media use has been defined as “a non work-related social media activity (e.g., a DOE central administrative employee establishing a Facebook page or a Twitter account for his/her own personal use).” This is not allowed amongst teacher and student use.
Teachers and students are not allowed, by the DOE rules, to be friends on any personal social networking site; this does not necessarily stop teachers from using social media for collaboration with their students.
Teachers are allowed to create a social networking site strictly for their students, consisting of no personal information or pictures.
Ms. Leimsider, guidance counselor at the NYC iSchool, states “While a student is still in school, teachers should not be friending kids from their personal accounts and I don’t see why you would need or want to be friends with a student.”
Ms. Jenkins, a film and design teacher at the iSchool uses social media sites to connect with her students; she creates class pages in which the students can collaborate. The DOE made it clear that this is acceptable and teachers are allowed to use social media sites in this specific way.
Although Ms. Leimsider supports the new rule, she claims “It is okay to create a class page that is not personal, like Ms. Jenkins has done.”
At the end of the day, why must teachers be friends with students on facebook? What is the purpose of connecting with students on a personal social networking site such as facebook? If teachers are allowed to connect with students on professional sites, there is no purpose for teachers to continue friending students on “personal” social networking sites.
Students are constantly posting inappropriate pictures or statuses; we have seen absolutely everything on facebook. Some are even comfortable with uploading pictures with drugs and alcohol; if teachers see this, they are mandated to report this behavior under DOE rules.
Ms. Leimsider states, “If we see certain things on Facebook we have a liability to report them; our job tells us to do something about it. Teachers are doing certain things outside of school that students shouldn’t know and students are doing things that maybe teachers shouldn’t know.”
Celina Flores, senior at the iSchool presents a different point of view, “I kind of agree with it and I kind of don’t because students and teachers should have a choice and if it’s outside of school, it does not impact what happens between teachers and students inside a school.”
Teachers and students do have the choice, they have the choice of sharing professional sites. Students must understand that teachers have a responsibility, and that responsibility is to teach, not be-friend their students. Teachers and students are not friends and if they are not allowed to be friends inside the school environment, they must not be friends outside the school environment. It is inacceptable, and the DOE has chosen to act against social media sites.