Gasp! Using social media in the classroom has long been thought of as taboo. It opens up an extra door of communication and window into teachers and students personal lives. Having a Facebook connection with students has been strongly discouraged by school boards, principals and teachers a like BUT times have changed. Facebook is the number 1 social media tool and kids ages 13-18 are spending on average 6 hours a week on Facebook and that number is growing at a rapid rate. Facebook is where students are and just like in the actual classroom the tone, feel and vibe of the student teacher relationship is set by, you, the teacher.
Just to clarify I am not suggesting that teachers and students friend each other. As the teacher you should keep your personal Facebook page private and even consider bumping up the security on your personal Facebook page since you are about to make yourself more accessible to the students online. I am talking about creating a Fan Page for your classroom and here is why:
1. To keep school and education top of mind for students, even in off hours.
Students ages 13-18 are accessing Facebook at an steadily increasing rate. If students
are on Facebook at least 6 hours a month, why wouldnt teachers try to occupy some of that time. Posts, updates, classroom photos, contests, extra credit. The possibilities are endless and need to be taken advantage off.
2. To offer:
extra credit, contests, updates, requirements, due dates, homework, upcoming classroom events...just to name a few of things you can post to keep students engaged.
3. Show students one way Facebook can be used aside from socializing with friends.
Every business is on Facebook because that is where people are. Getting students familiar with the idea that Facebook can be a tool and to show them how to effectively use Facebook outside of the normal socializing setting.
4. Show students how to act responsible while online.
There are ever increasing stories about employees getting fired or never hired in the first place because of things they have posted on their Facebook. Social media is allowing us have further reaching connections but that also means we are putting our personal lives out on display. Employers looking at resumes have looked up potential employees on Facebook. It is important especially as students get older and start entering the work force that they know how to secure their private page or at least act responibly online. Take this Facebook Classroom as an opportunity to show students what an authentic but still professional Facebook relationship looks like.
5. Inspire students (current and past).
This one is simple instead of even friending students after they have left your classroom or the education system create a separate fan page for that and post things that will continue to inspire students beyond a high-school education.Students will have hundreds of tidbits pop up on their Newsfeed every day. If just one of your inspirational or positive messages reminds them of the focus and drive it takes to succeed then its all worth it.
6. Parent participation.
A Facebook Classroom would open the classroom to parents too. For parents that want to stay involved they would also have the option to Like your Page and then your updates would pop on their news-feed too. So when you post something like Dont forget to get your permission slip for the Zoo field-trip signed and turned in by Thursday that wont only remind the students but also some of the parents.
The Taboo of social media and the teacher student relationship is heading quickly out the door. Facebook is only 6 years old and I dont think we have begun to see how integrated Facebook will become. The generation that adapted to Facebook in college has graduated, is getting married and having kids. Facebook will only continue to grow as this generation grows and a Facebook Classroom will help you as a teacher to stay connected and on the cutting edge of education and social media as a tool.
If you want more information on exactly how to set up and Facebook Classroom page just leave a comment.
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