I’m wondering if I’m just old-fashioned, or being overly precious, or just plain nasty, but I have never, nor will I ever share personal details with my students. And that includes phone numbers, email addresses, postal adresses and Facebook befriending. I have cancelled my Twitter account because I don’t like being “followed” by ex-students and I’m not really keen on the fact that they can read my blogs: hence the rather arcane nom de plume.
I know that in this day and age it is almost impossible to remain incognito, but I personally feel that as a teacher, it behoves me to exercise some sort of discretion and maintain a professional distance from students. Handing out phone numbers and email addresses, airily “friending” all and everyone on Facebook and inviting them to share in every aspect of one’s online life is a very slippery slope. I have tried in vain to impress this upon the teachers who work at the centre, but they hear me not. I don’t swop private phone numbers with my doctor, or my dentist, or my lawyer. I wouldn’t dream of asking them to “friend” me on Facebook and following them on Twitter would be the mark of a very sad person.
I have just convinced myself – old-fashioned it may be, but I’m standing my ground: keep your relationship with your students professional – do not allow them into your personal life and don’t expect to be asked into theirs; if you are, politely decline.