Student: I have triple-checked the senior section. Do you want me to submit them?
Me: We’ll have someone check them over tomorrow. A fresh set of eyeballs can’t hurt.
Student: No one changed the Beta Club deadline.
Me: I’m on it. Thanks.
Student: Hey, Mr. Harding. I was wondering if you could be a reference for me. I’m trying to get a job at Dunkin Donuts.
Me: Put me down.
A handful of recent events have had me considering the relationship I have with my students and, more specifically, the means in which I interact with them. The above evidence is harmless. The first two are clearly instances of yearbook business getting handled. The third is a former student coming to me for professional help, which I’m happy to provide.
Exhibit A is a series of text messages.
Exhibit B is from my personal email account.
Exhibit C is from Facebook.
I’ve been advised, from various sources, against all three of these means of communication with students, but I just don’t see the big deal.
The yearbook business simply has to get done, and there have been dozens of instances where my students and I needed to communicate instantly outside of school. Texting makes this happen. Last year’s adviser had every kid’s cell phone number, so I did the same. It’s been helpful.
Facebook’s different for a lot of reasons, and I’ve been slow and reluctant to add any students still enrolled in my school. But it’s ignorant to deny the benefits of social networking with students. I’m happy to provide a reference for a decent kid, and sharing that through Facebook probably got his job application turned in that much more quickly. On the other hand, I don’t want access to whatever he does on spring break, you know?
So where’s the line between using technology to communicate professionally with students and being a pervy creep? How thick of a line are we talking about here?