Can Teachers Be Friends With Former Students On Facebook
Districts and educational institutions have regulations against teachers friending students on Facebook and other social media platforms. However, the case is different when it comes to former students.
Teachers can be friends with former students on Facebook so long as they’re over 18, no longer their students, or in the same school. There’s no problem with teachers who are no longer authority figures over legally adult former students becoming friends on Facebook.
In such cases, both parties are considered mature adults capable of making their own decisions.
Factors To Consider Before Friending Former Students On Facebook
Keep in mind that while most educational institutions may not have any regulations against teachers being friends with former students on Facebook, this is only allowed once some criteria are met.
Age Of Former Student (Over 18)
Firstly, the former student needs to be over 18 for you to friend them on Facebook. Teachers friending underage former students can lead to negative consequences for the school and the teacher.
It’s therefore advisable to only accept friend requests from former students who are legally adults to avoid any problems.
Friending a minor on social media is a good way to get yourself into trouble as a teacher. Most parents would be unhappy with any online friendship between teachers and underage students or former students.
Shouldn’t Be Your Student
Secondly, they shouldn’t be your student or you shouldn’t be in any form of supervisory role over them. This will ensure that no power dynamic could be leveraged for any reason.
Should Be A Graduate
Thirdly, they should either be graduates or no longer students of the educational institution. Even if they’ve left your class and are no longer your student, it’s advisable to only friend students when they’ve left the school altogether.
They shouldn’t be attending the same school, as you could still have some influence over them in the same school.
While the above points apply in most educational institutions, you should identify your school’s policies on the subject matter before friending a student on social media.
Teachers should also ensure that they stick to the general social media policies of their districts and educational institutions. You should keep these policies in mind when interacting on social media.
- Don’t post anything related to your students. This includes pictures of students irrespective of how proud you may be of their accomplishments
- Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know. Students may sometimes create accounts under unidentifiable names. To avoid unknowingly friending a student on social media, teachers are advised to only accept friend requests from people they know
- Don’t vent online. If you’re unhappy with your institution, students, or anything else related to your work, avoid venting your frustration on social media
- Don’t join groups that may be considered unprofessional or inappropriate. It’s advisable to exit such groups if you’re already a member of one
- Don’t use school equipment including computers for your personal tasks or social media activities
- Do not post on your personal social media accounts during school hours. Even in cases where you’re not teaching, refrain from geotagging your location in your post when you’re on school grounds. That perfect selfie will have to wait till after school and you’re off-campus
- Don’t post sensitive or offensive content. This includes posting images with alcohol or even posting bikini pictures
- Implement strict online privacy settings. Check privacy settings on social media to ensure you only share with people you know
While these rules may seem extreme, it’s worth noting that the teaching profession comes with a huge responsibility that can even impact their personal lives. A typical example is a teacher getting disciplined or even fired for drinking in front of students even if it’s outside school hours.
Additionally, districts can also terminate any teacher if they deem any activity in their personal life to reflect negatively on the profession. Teachers are expected to serve as examples to the young and parents are only willing to trust educational institutions with their children because of the trust they have in these institutions and their teachers.
Reasons To Stay Connected With Former Teacher
It’s true that most students do not stay in touch with their teachers once they graduate but there’re some advantages to staying connected with a former professor.
Personalized Recommendation Letters
A strong reference letter could mean the difference between landing the job or admission to the college of your dreams. You may have an advantage over rivals thanks to it.
And with most competitors submitting recommendation letters from their former teachers, having a personalized recommendation letter can help you stand out from your competitors.
If you don’t want your teacher to present a generic recommendation that may do more harm than good, it’s advisable to get to know your former professor.
It doesn’t matter whether you weren’t close to the professor during your school days. Becoming friends online can help bridge that gap making it easier for them to remember and write personalized recommendation letters.
Teachers are sometimes well-connected as they have colleagues from undergrad, grad schools, and more. They may know someone who can help you get into that class you need to pass in your current institution.
Even when they’re unable to help in that regard, they would have you in mind when an opportunity arises.
Show Of Appreciation
It feels great to be appreciated by your former students. Teachers instruct a wide range of students in their careers. And while they don’t expect students to show appreciation individually, they appreciate it when former students remember them enough to reach out to them.
Whether they were harsh in their criticism during the student’s school days, the fact that the student reached out to the teacher can brighten a teacher’s day.
After all, most teachers enter the teaching profession to impact the lives of their students. They appreciate it when a former student reaches out to them.
Update Them On Your Situation
Even if you’re still in school, keeping in touch with your teacher helps update them on your status. They’ve may have been where you are at the moment and may have some wisdom to impart.
Staying connected with your teachers ensures that they’re updated with your current situation. This enables them to provide help and advice where necessary.
Updating professors on your career advancements, promotions, publications, and appointments gives them a feeling of connection with your career progress.
Additionally, it makes it easier for them to provide a personalized letter of recommendation when needed.
Teachers have their own experiences with students, colleagues, and others. Keeping in touch enables them to advise former students on any challenges they may be having in their academics and life in general.
Keep in mind that teachers have lives outside the classroom. They may be able to provide the advice you need to navigate that challenging situation you may be in.
Teachers and their students can be friends on social media so long as the students have graduated and are over 18 years. So long as both as considered consenting adults and the teacher is no longer in a supervisory position over the former students, there’s nothing wrong with being friends on Facebook.