Every Teacher’s Must Have Guide to Facebook

Want to connect with your students in and out of the classroom? Consider bringing Facebook into your class as a collaborative tool. We all know that most kids, or at least those in the pre-teen and up category, are locked into many forms of social media. Instead of fighting it, why not meet them where they are, and use the benefits of Facebook to communicate and increase involvement?

We’ve identified a number of resources for you to use as you determine why and how to make Facebook work in your classroom.

Image from Flickr via Neeraj Kumar

Image from Flickr by Neeraj Kumar

Why Use Facebook In the Classroom?

Although students (and to be honest, teachers too) may sneak onto Facebook during the school day to read or post updates, is there a reason to encourage this behavior?  Let’s take a look at why Facebook could be a great addition to your daily classroom routine.

Quicker response to class updates. Many teachers see the benefits of using Facebook for sharing information with students and parents about homework, tests, projects, and class activities. Since many students 13 years old and over (in accordance with Facebook rules) check their Facebook accounts often, they may be more attentive to class news.

Create a hub for classroom resources. By sharing links to lesson resources, you can create a place where students can easily find the information they need, no matter where they are.

Introduce information from outside sources. You can select any number of educational resources to follow so your students can see their updates. Tag the Facebook pages of the Smithsonian Institution, the White House, your local congressional official, National Geographic, or any organization that may tie into your lessons.

Teach students to use social media responsibly. Recent Pew Research reports reveal that 93% of teens aged 12-17 go online and that 73% of teens use Facebook. But are they using them wisely? With issues of cyber bullying, sexting, badmouthing others, and general over sharing of private information, students could use a little help learning how to use social media appropriately. By providing guidance in a structured environment, kids may better understand how to respect others while maintaining a safe and healthy social media profile.

For more thoughts on why setting up a Facebook page for your class is a good thing, check out 50 Reasons to Invite Facebook Into Your Classroom.

Setting Up the Facebook Page

Privacy. It’s a valid concern, especially if you already have a Facebook page. Do you have to friend your students? How can you keep them from reading about your personal life? How can you keep their updates from showing in your stream?

Many teachers have solved this by creating a classroom page, separate from their personal one. One school named their page after a project, P.E. Kids Going Global (Postcard Swapping) while another class named the page after the teacher: Mr. Edelman’s Teacher Page. Other teachers create closed groups so student members can be invited and monitored. If you’d like to get to know your students in a different way, The Edublogger offers some ways to determine how much each of you can share.

For some specific tips on how to set up Facebook for teachers, consider Bernadette Rego’s guide, as well as Facebook’s own advice.

General Rules for Teachers Using Facebook in the Classroom

Keep your posts professional. Sure, conversations in Facebook are by nature casual, and although you can (and should) keep a sense of humor, make sure the comments you make—and that students add, are ones your principal and your student’s parents would be comfortable seeing.

“Like” pages thoughtfully. Remember that posts from pages you “like” will show in your stream, so be sure those pages are education related.

Monitor the page frequently. Check the page often to ensure comments others may have made are appropriate.

Integrate the use of Facebook in your teaching. Use it often as just one tool that increases interaction. Post homework on your page and encourage students to comment if they have questions. Encourage them to post examples of palindromes or arachnids after you’ve just completed a unit on them in class. When you go on a field trip, have students take photos, then upload them to the page and add a caption.

In Sum

By respecting the challenges and opportunities that Facebook offers, you can use it to increase information, education, fun and interaction in your class.

 

7 Comments

  1. Karsten Coates

    April 9, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    I’ve never heard anyone advocate for the use of Facebook in the classroom before, but I find the notion interesting. I think that there may be some validity in this method in that positive teacher-student relationships can be extremely helpful for a classroom. If Facebook is the new modality for students to communicate with friends then it could be the perfect way for teachers to make a connection. In 2012, a research summary from the National School Climate Center stated that, “The process of teaching and learning is fundamentally relational.” That document further cited research showing that student perception of teacher support was positively correlated with self-esteem and GPA. This means that caring for students and forming unique relations has the ability to increase test scores and student lives. If Facebook is the tool to establish positive teacher-student relationships then I say lets use it.

    School Climate Research Summary: http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate/documents/policy/sc-brief-v3.pdf

    • Leah Levy

      April 20, 2015 at 9:00 am

      Thanks for the well-thought out comment. Interesting research to boot!

    • Mary

      April 26, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Paulo Freire, a Brazilian philosopher and educator, wrote something similar to the statement of the National School Climate Center in their 2012 research summary. On page 31 of his book ‘Pedagogy of Freedom’, Freire wrote, “whoever teaches learns in the act of teaching, and whoever learns teaches in the act of learning.” While it is true that Facebook is medium through which many teachers and students participate to share photos and life events with family and friends (and it may even be a way for teachers to understand their students on a deeper personal level), it has the potential to change the way in which teachers see their students, for better or for worse. The perception formed by teachers based on social media could make students alter the way they interact on the internet, and while this could be beneficial in helping stop abusive behaviors and encourage internet safety, it may also restrict students from expressing their true identities on social media for fear that their teacher may be watching and judging. Freire articulates this predicament of teachers in his book on page 125; “What I obviously cannot permit is that the expression of my feelings interfere in the fulfillment of my ethical obligations as a teacher or in the exercise of my authority. I cannot evaluate a student’s work on the basis of whether or not I have a good feeling for that particular student.” Social media is such a large presence in the lives of young people nowadays. While I believe that it is necessary to teach Internet etiquette and safety practices in schools, I don’t think that integrating Facebook into the classroom is the best way to do so and it could even harm teacher-student relationships.
      (Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Freedom. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998. Print.)

  2. Corey

    April 10, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    I like the idea of using Facebook in education, whether for educational or classroom management purposes.

    Facebook is a big part of some schools, especially online schools. It can be used to connect with and understand our students, to find missing students or alert teachers to dangerous situations, or to send out classroom or school announcements.

    Kids certainly need to be taught how to appropriately use social media. Many of them just need someone to tell them why they should not post certain things, even though it may seem obvious, such as the fact that employers look at Facebook pages of potential employees. Students seeking a job will often make dramatic changes to their profile after learning this.

    • Leah Levy

      April 20, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I agree. It seems that social media is a reality not only in our culture at large but also specifically in our classrooms, and the more we can use it for good, the better.

  3. Dr Chesler

    April 13, 2015 at 6:21 am

    I teach college level courses for 3 different schools. How do I distinguish the curriculum and student base for each semester using Facebook as a modality?

    • Leah Levy

      April 20, 2015 at 8:57 am

      Thanks for the question! Can you provide a few more details on what you’re looking to do? It sounds like you might want to create different Facebook groups for each student base or even different aspects of your curriculum, but with more details, we’re happy to provide clearer suggestions.