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Teachers, Students, and Social Networks

“Coach! Why did you unfriend me on Facebook?” This was a surprising exclamation to hear at field hockey practice. No. Coach Horton isn’t snubbing her past and present players with this decisive click, but rather abiding by restrictions to teacher-student interactions on social media.

The digital age ushered in a whole new circle of legal hell that also shapes school policy. Columbus Academy has confronted plagiarism, cyber-bullying, and cheating by implementing countermeasures such as and the phone search policy. Now strict measures are being taken to keep our school life and private life as separate spheres.

While this policy preserves an appropriate and formal relationship, it also may inhibit the unique connections Academy students form with teachers. Being a K-12 school, Academy is more so a community than simply a school. Likewise, our former, treasured teachers often become our closest adult friends.

In middle school, it was normal for a couple high schoolers to pop into a class to catch up with their teachers and observe their old class. That tradition characterizes the nature of many Academy student-teacher relationships.

A social media connection is often just an extension of that. Being Facebook friends does nothing more than keep the community in touch. Problems arise when we fail to understand that the social media platform is in no way private, and we must, therefore, monitor it.

Mistakes are made on social media that complicate a teacher’s role in our lives. Should a teacher be obligated to report student behavior they see online? How can you keep the line of propriety from blurring?

These questions come with indefinite answers. As a result, lawyers around the nation instruct schools to opt for the easiest, safest fix: eliminate all social media interactions and, therefore, potential problems.

by Maddie Vaziri ’16


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