You need an extension on an assignment — do you take the time to write a professional email, or direct message your teacher on Instagram? During distance learning, many teachers have taken to social media as a way to connect with their students. This is understandable, considering the loss of in-person relationships and classroom banter that teachers have come to expect, but it is overall harmful to professionalism and privacy. Obviously, teachers are free to use social media however they like, but there should be a clear standard of professionalism when teachers and students interact through it. Students should be able to share as much of their lives as they want on social media without having to worry about whether their teachers will see what they post, and teachers and their privacy deserve respect as well.
Teaching should be kept professional. Although it could benefit students to have personal relationships with their teachers, if they start thinking of their teacher as a friend and not an authority figure, they might stop working hard in that class. The lines of professionalism will get blurry, and students may start messaging teachers through social media to ask for a grade change.
It seems possible that teachers and students could just follow each other on social media. Students would get to see their teachers’ posts, which might be beneficial to the class, and they probably wouldn’t think of teachers as their new best friends. This could be true, but no matter the situation, students will see their teachers differently if they are on social media together.
Also, students deserve to have private lives. They should feel free to post anything they want on social media without worrying about what their teachers will see or how their posts will affect what their teacher thinks of them. Teachers also deserve privacy, and although it’s unlikely that teachers would actually use their personal accounts to follow and talk to students, it won’t be long before students find them on their own.
When my teacher made an Instagram account for us to follow, many of my classmates quickly realized she also had a personal account. It didn’t take long for most of the class to find our teacher’s real Instagram, which became a privacy problem for her. If teachers incorporate social media into their classes, they may find they suddenly have a bunch of students following their personal accounts, potentially harming the classroom environment. Teachers’ professional lives and personal lives must stay separate.
In some cases, using social media in the classroom can be helpful. Last year, my class went to a museum and our teacher gave us extra credit for each picture of the art that we posted on Instagram. It is also true that many students may benefit from having an adult to talk to, especially if they don’t have many adult role models in their life. Teachers could potentially use social media as a way to become those trusted adults, and provide support. While that is a nice idea, that is not a teacher’s job, but a counselor’s job. All students have counselors they can talk to, who allow students to text them, which is a way to personally connect without using social media. Our teachers are there to teach us, and our counselors are there to support us in any other way we need.
Keeping relationships professional is essential to making sure students continue to work hard in school, especially with virtual learning which has already destroyed some of the formality of classroom instruction. If we have students and teachers commenting emojis on each other’s posts, we lose that professionalism.