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Teachers + Social Media: What Kind of Parent Are You?

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Tell me you've been here. 

Scrolling your news feed, making your typical connections with friends and family, when the powers of Zuckerberg (and his magical and totally creepy ability to know pretty much everyone you come in contact with on a daily basis, including strangers) takes hold of your Facebook page…suggesting you be friends with your daughter's teacher.  For a second you debate that quick click of sending a friend request, but ultimately, you shrug your shoulders and keep on going.  Because that's kind of weird, right? 

But before you know it, she is showing up everywhere.  

And let’s be real, you totally clicked her profile to get a little glimpse of her life, too.
Oh, that's right....now it is coming back to you.  It wasn't Mark's mystical ways.  You did, in fact, look up all the first-grade teachers over the summer.  Just to, you know, see how their summer was going.  I mean, whoever becomes your child’s teacher will practically be spending more time with your child than you will.  Totally normal to check him or her out {WHAT!  why is she so private!}...before you even know her.

Not strange at all. 

Anywho moving along. 

She's popped back up, but now your mutual friend's list is growing.  She comments on your son's classmates’ piano recital.  She knows you see it.  You even respond to it.  But wait?  Did the teacher add his classmate’s mom?  Or did the mom request her? 

Shoot.  Am I jerk for completely pretending I don't know her when she pretty much knows everything about my life through the lenses of my seven-year-old?  Surely if she wanted to be friends, she would just add me, right? 

MARK!  Why must you complicate my life so much!? 

So now you ask your friends around the dinner table, wine in hand:  How many of you send a friend request to your child's teacher?  

Their responses vary and, as they flow in, you cannot help but giggle.

The Silent Stalkers. These are the parents that just lurk constantly.  They “mysteriously” know everything about the teacher, however, they would NEVER send over a friend request. Truth is: they aren’t even sure they want the teacher to be able to see their own life, but you better bet they have researched the daylights of the one who holds the dry erase marker! 

The Entitlement Parents.  I didn't come up with this label, the funny ladies who took my poll called themselves that!  "You better bet I friend request that teacher the second I get my hands on a name," they cry out.  "If you're going to have my child all day, I have a right to know all about you!" These are the mamas who are all over that social media game and they are not afraid to show it!  I dig their bold prowess while I find myself wondering about that poor teacher's privacy.  But hey, we all got opinions, right?

The Totally Weirded Out.  They don't want that teacher to see anything about their life just as much as they don't want to see about theirs.  Enough said, case closed.  Stay away.  

The Internally Conflicted.  Here you would find someone like me.  A former teacher who greatly appreciates and respects the teacher's decision to keep her private and school life separate, yet a total people person who feels super awkward when we converse through social media yet never make the relationship official.  I know you.  You know me.  So are we 'friends' or acquaintances? 

And of course, we have the What Is Social Media Mamas.  Those are the ones reading this as we speak saying, "What is wrong with this author?"  I like these mamas.  I like them a lot.  That means they most likely don't struggle with the decision-making process like I do.  They either friend request without a care or thought in the world, or don't even have a social media account (thus aren't reading this anyway).  I dig their stance.  I envy their carefree vibe. 

That leads us to this: What exactly is social media etiquette between parent and teacher relationships? 

As a former 7th grade teacher, I tend to fall on the side of allowing the teacher to draw that clear boundary, but that doesn't mean I don't second-guess that decision when she and I have a full-blown conversation on another parent's thread.  As a teacher, I set personal parameters such as not adding a parent until the school year ended (but siblings) and accepting student friend requests after they graduated (five years after I taught them; by that time, if they were seeking me out, a connection was made), but things still got tricky.

Clearly, this isn't a one-size-fits-all scenario as all teachers have varying opinions on this, but social media easily blurs that line of allowing teachers to keep a private life and work life. 

Teachers, let us hear from you!  What do YOU think the etiquette should be? 

Parents, where do you fall on how you view these relationships?

Since there isn't an official "norm" here, I can't help but wonder if we could all come together to share perspectives and create a code that doesn't already exist.  Let's get to work! 



teachers and social media

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