Category Archives: Facebook

The Pitfalls of Social Media in Education

At the start of the school year, I had a good idea on how to open up the lines of communication between home and school.

My idea?

To use the social media sites that people already use on a regular basis.

As such, I entered into the world of Facebook.

Three months into the school year, I reported on my progress and was happy to see that it was working.

When I post something on Facebook, it gets read and quite often discussed. I regularly have parents of my students “liking” posts. It’s a great communication tool and I was happy to see it working so well.

Last week, something happened to derail the entire communication tool.

It started out simply enough. One student commented on a post and described something as “gay.”

I pointed out how that was inappropriate and not welcomed at all. This is what the student immediately responded with.

So I wrote back.

I thought that I had made point and that would be the end of it.

Of course, some people called him out for suggesting that I was a bully. He then started swearing at them further down in the comment thread, even after agreeing to watch what he posted.

And then it got really messy.

People chimed in who I didn’t even know. A grade six student from another school started ripping into me. He said all sorts of sexually explicit stuff that was really upsetting and definitely not something I wanted on my teaching page whatsoever.

I didn’t know the student who started to cyber-bully me either, which was really frustrating. A few of my students tried to get him to stop. More people I didn’t know started adding to the comment thread to say that kind of language was inappropriate as well.

Some people swore back and forth at each other and it looked like this just wasn’t going to end. I blocked the offensive account so he couldn’t post anything further but the damage had been done.

This happened during my “office hours” as well. It was 8:30 on a school night and students know that they can expect to find me online for half an hour at that time.

First thing in the morning, I told my principal about the whole affair. He suggested that I shut down the Facebook page, which I have since done.

The student who started the trouble with his negative use of the word “gay” and then continued to swear on the page lost computer privileges at school. The other Grade 6 student lost computer privileges at home (his aunt contacted me on Facebook prior to me shutting down the site)

I think this whole thing is just a shame. I lost a good communication tool between school and home because of one incident.

I wanted to use this as a teachable moment. I am sure many of these kids talk like this on a regular basis in the online world of Facebook. They need to know that this sort of thing is not okay.

I started a new teacher website using the school board’s platform. It doesn’t seem as intuitive and it’s a new tool students and parents are going to have to get used to using now. I hope it takes off. I hope it becomes as popular as my Facebook account was, but I have my doubts.

This whole thing was very upsetting.

Has anything like this every happened to you? 

What tools do you use to communicate with parents and students?

Comic Strip Newsletters

I went to a workshop last week and a fellow teacher told me that she does her newsletters in a comic strip format.

I thought it was a great idea for several reasons.

It’s Visual!

Large blocks of text often get ignored in this fast paced world. A comic strip is something that can be quickly scanned.

It’s Unique

The newsletters I’ve seen are pretty much all the same. Comic strip newsletters stand out and pretty much call to be read by everyone.

It’s Creative

It shows that we can get messages and stories across in a variety of different ways.

It’s Informative

You can get a lot of information into a short comic strip as you can see from the one I sent home earlier this year.

There are dozens and dozens of comic creation tools online. Many of them are free.

I wanted my newsletter to really look unique so I didn’t use any of those tools. Instead, I created myself out of Lego and designed this comic strip using a word processor. The drawing tools let you easily add speech bubbles, text boxes, and pictures to the frames.

Well, that’s it. My first comic strip newsletter.

Try it out!

More Teaching Tips

How I’ve Been Using Facebook in My Teaching

As an experiment this year, I decided to embrace social media to help open the lines of communication with students and parents.

It’s only three months into the school year, but I thought I’d share with you my progress thus far.
I started up a professional Facebook account this summer. This account was meant to be strictly for my teaching practice. I wasn’t going to post anything that wasn’t related to my classroom instruction or program. 
I don’t use Facebook personally, so it was easy to set up this new account and not mix my personal and professional life online. 
And it worked . . . up to a point.
I became Facebook friends with 41 students. It was interesting to see the things they talked about on their pages. I didn’t see a lot on my dashboard stream though. I think many of the students adjusted their privacy settings to prevent  me from seeing everything they posted, which was fine. Other students didn’t want to have a teacher as a friend whatsoever. 
The solution . . . 
I started a Facebook Page. This way students and parents can “like” my page instead of friending me. This allows them to see all of my updates, interact with the posts, and leave comments. 
To that end, I asked my students to “like” my new page and then I started removing them as friends. I sometimes miss that I cannot see all of their posts anymore but I think this is a much safer environment for teachers to still use the social media site. 
Almost everyone uses Facebook. Why not use it to help open up the lines of communication between school and home. 
Office Hours
Students or parents can’t expect to find me online all of the time. I told them that I will do my best to be online from 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. every night. That way any questions they might have will be answered before they go to bed. 

Twitter

I also started a professional Twitter page that is secondary to my current one. This is only used for educational purposes as well. 

Teachers Should be Online
I have always had an open-door policy, but I have found that very few parents call or come in to the school. Some students are reluctant to stay after class or come in before school starts. Having a social media presence makes my door even more accessible. In this day and age, connecting online is quick and easy. It only makes sense to use these tools in an educational setting.
How about you? 
Are you using social media, websites, text messages, etc in your teaching practice? If so, please leave a comment below and let us know how it’s working for you. Thanks!