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Five Ways to Make Facebook Work for Teachers
posted by: Steph | July 26, 2010, 05:38 PM   

Facebook poses an interesting conundrum for educators: to have or not to have a Facebook profile? First and foremost, educators must follow the regulations and guidelines of their specific school district. For some educators, Facebook will be strictly off limits, but for those whose districts permit teachers to use Facebook, here are a few easy tips to make the social networking site work for you:

  1. Join education pages and groups on Facebook. Doing this will help bring education trends, topics, and news to you without you having to hunt for it. Your professional association, school, and curricula may have pages or groups on Facebook that provide tips, tricks, information, news, and discussion groups for educators. Pages like "Association of American Educators" keep you up to date on the latest education policies and news stories, while providing you with a community of educators and support in your profession.

  2. Share education information via your status posts. If you read an article or find a group that might interest some of your friends, post it as the status on your wall. Your status is a great way to quickly share useful information with all of your friends. Caution: Do not post things you wouldn’t want your boss or your students to see. (See recent blog post for 10 tips for safely using social networking sites)

  3. Communicate with your colleagues. If your school’s policy permits it, Facebook can be a venue, just like email, to communicate and collaborate with your colleagues and peers. Use Facebook to share lesson plans, brainstorm classroom activities, and promote a positive work environment. But NEVER post derogatory comments about students or coworkers on Facebook. Use the medium to communicate in a beneficial way with your colleagues.

  4. Communicate with parents. If your school’s policy permits it, use Facebook to share pertinent classroom information with the parents of your students. You can create a parents’ group for your class and share information only with those parents. Share field trip details, school closings, classroom parties, or even pictures of student projects. Parents loved one first grade teacher’s use of Facebook to communicate with them (read story here).

  5. Adjust your privacy settings appropriately. Take some time to review the "Privacy Settings" (found under "Account" on the top right) to mark most of your profile features "Friends Only" so that your students won't easily find pictures, posts, or status updates from their teacher. As role models, teachers should take advantage of the advanced privacy settings Facebook offers.

As Facebook celebrates hitting the 500 million member mark, educators should start using the social networking mega-site for more than just “friending” old classmates. Facebook can be a tool to assist teachers and improve the educational experience of America’s students.

Have you used Facebook educationally?
Comment below.

Comments (4)Add Comment
In the future...
written by Grace, Vermont, November 16, 2010

I would love to use Facebook as a form of communication for my classes. I think that it could be a fun way to share a lot of information and help students with assignments outside of school. The only problem with it would be making student-teacher relations more casual, which might not be a good thing. I think that since there are going to be more and more young teachers in the high schools the way we think about student-teacher relationships will change slightly.
written by Danielle, via Facebook, July 28, 2010

I don't think it should be any of their business, that's like saying teachers can't have a personal life. As long as you have everything completely private and don't allow the parents of one of your students or even students as a friend you should have no problems. I totally agree with Roger on this one as well.
written by Roger, via Facebook, July 28, 2010

I know some districts are trying to enforce a no Facebook policy - I also don't think it can stand up in court since your employer cannot dictate what you do outside of the workplace. It would be an abridgment of free speech. I DO understand how they can hold your JOB liable for the CONTENT of your FB page - but not participation. It's like saying - you can't go to certain stores or you can't belong to certain just won't hold up.

Additionally, I have a FB group page for one of my classes and it has been quite valuable for blogging, posting useful media and info and quickly messaging students.
Create teacher pages
written by Mark Moran, New York, July 27, 2010

Teachers can be bolder than this. They can create their own classroom pages and suggest their students and parents "Like" the page (until recently this was the "Become a Fan" functionality). Then teachers can use this page to post classroom & school-related links and hold virtual "office hours" safely - all communications are public. Schools themselves should also have these pages, and use them to communicate with parents and students off-hours; in many districts, virtually all students use Facebook every day. See this article for instances where schools have used Facebook to help students cope with tragedy:

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