#AussieED Twitter chat is one of my favourite ways to end the weekend. Lots of passionate educators discussing interesting educational topics. It's a great way to wind down from the weekend and start re focusing on the teaching week ahead.
Last night's chat was about relationships and their importance to student learning. Nothing new there. What really interested me were the number of Tweeters who were opposed to interacting in any way with students on social media. I'm used to that sort of resistance from teachers who don't understand social media but I thought theTwitter savvy would hold a more similar opinion to mine.
I have many levels of relationships with my students in the face to face world. Some I only see at school, some I coach in netball, some are children of my friends or friends of my children. If I go to the local supermarket or the park, I'm bound to run into a few. They might even see me having fun at a social event, playing sport or having a drink in the pub.
Likewise, I have many levels of relationship with my students on social media. Some are my 'friends' on Facebook, almost all are connected to school via specific Facebook or Edmodo groups. Some follow me on Instagram or Twitter or Pinterest. A few (bless them) read my blog.
Just as in the face to face world, sometimes this gives them a glimpse of me as 'a person'. I'm totally ok with that. Living in a small country town, my life is already an open book and if knowing that the kids can read what I write makes me pause occasionally before I post, that's a good thing.
If you prefer to maintain more privacy than me, it's still possible to share the social media space with students and their parents. All social media sites have ways of allowing followers different levels of access and being tech savvy enough to set those properly should be part of every teacher's kit.
From my own research, I know that kids feel safer when they have trusted adults in their digital space. Social media has given me just one more way to build strong relationships with all the stake holders in my school community
If building relationships is at the heart of student learning, why do we panic when those relationships are nurtured online?