Kindergarten Teacher

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The End of Facebook in my Class

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My class Facebook page is shutting down this week. I was told that the district does not support it and thus must close it down. I knew this might happen, it was a risk I took in trying something so unknown without permission. I had prepared myself for this day. The page was very successful and I feel I met my goal of showing that there is more we can do to engage parents (see HERE) . Actually the success of the page is what led to its demise. The great teachers I work with also wanted to use the tool and parents began to ask why I was the only one using it. This made my principal need to address the situation and the final solution is closing it down. (Curious how I used Facebook in the class? Here are some examples)

I know there are other tools out there that are more accepted for use in the class. Well I can’t use those either. I was told is that if technology is not “approved” then we cannot use it.  I guess we must let others show us things can be successful before we use them or the idea must come from the administration dept.  So much for finding things that work in your class and bringing your passion to the room. This top-down way of professional development must be adjusted.  My district must realize that teachers are capable of finding things that work in their classroom and intelligent enough to use them. We have been a leader in education and technology for many years but now I fear we are falling behind. Look no further than my last training on web 2.0 tools. The focus was on word clouds and Google earth… yes tools that almost everyone in the nation already knows about. Actually the first 20 minutes of the training were spent defining web 2.0 tools.  The culture must change when it comes to professional development. It is time to let teachers led the way in trainings. The edcamp model clearly shows the value in this way of thinking.

Next,  I was told that one of the main reasons they don’t support using social media type tools with parents is they really don’t want parent “comments.”  They are perfectly content with the sterile “news” model of communication.  I really don’t know how to respond to this. I will just say that relationships are everything in my classroom. It is the foundation for everything I do. Parent interaction and feedback is valuable! There are so many schools that would do anything to get parents involved and we are pushing them away. I have more to say but will stop there…

Regardless of the success I have shown and the information I collected showing the tool the district uses was not working, I am still being told the district tool is the only one I can use.  I still plan to stretch the boundaries when I feel strongly about something, and I will not give up trying to engage the parents of my class. 

Thank you to all who have supported me on this journey and I am still available to help others wanting to use Facebook in the class. I might have tried and failed, but I learned a lot about the importance of a true home-school connection in the process. 

 

46 Responses to The End of Facebook in my Class

  1. Wm Chamberlain says:

    It is very telling when the admins tell you they don’t want parent feedback to be public. It is quite obvious that they have forgotten that the role of the school is to educate the communities children. Perhaps if you posted this blog post to your fan page as a goodbye the parents that appreciated your transparency will start asking the admins why they don’t want the parents to have any voice in their children’s education.

  2. JoAnnJ68 says:

    So sorry this happened. We used your blog post to encourage teachers at our school to see there are many ways to engage parents. I wonder what will happen when the parents become aware of you being censured? Yes, I used the word censured because that’s what this real is. What admins needs to realize is parents want to be informed. They want your help because that’s why your there doing your job. That communication is vital to the all involved, even the admins, only they are so deep in the forest they can’t see it.

  3. 2footgiraffe says:

    Q1 At what point do you decide the battle isn’t worth it and move to another district?

  4. Marci Laevens says:

    Wow, I felt a little sick reading this. I am so sorry and I know that if I feel this frustrated, you must be beside yourself. My first thought is that this district is no longer a fit for you. I don’t think you tried and failed, I think you succeeded in at least starting the conversation in your district. Know that your PLN supports you.

  5. jhox1 says:

    So sorry to hear this. I have heard the same excuses/reasons from my district.

  6. h_mathews says:

    It amazes me that districts are pushing us to get on up with the web.20 technology, but then close the door when we open one that proves useful. I understand that parent communication is tricky, but we can get such high parent involvement in education by using the tools that society accepts. I am using Edmodo as a communication tool between parents and me. I knew that FB would be out of the question. I got permission from my principal, but have looked no further than that for acceptance. Keep your chin up, and keep fighting the good fight.

  7. Dean Shareski says:

    My hope is we wont’ be having these conversations in a couple of years. I realize it’s frustrating at the moment but the shift I’m seeing is largely recognizing we can’t focus on control as the world around us embraces opportunity and customized learning.

  8. Maria Montero says:

    I find it really sad, and it does not make sense to me… I am thinking of showing the use you have been doing of Facebook at my children school, where I can feel a real concern on parents participation. Thanks for sharing,Maria

  9. Chris Wejr says:

    Wow… quite sad to not see that you are a leader in this and that people need to learn from you. I will use our Facebook page as the opposite example. I wrote a blog post about it, it was picked up by the Vancouver Sun reporter who wrote about it, and then picked up by the neighbouring city newspaper who ran an interview with me regarding the site and the concept of communication WITH parents. Following this, the assistant superintendent of the neighbouring district contacted me to ask HOW it was working and HOW they could move in that direction. Since then a few schools in BC have started to use a FB page for their school in order to get more parent input.The reason I am sharing this is because it just demonstrates what happens when a district/school makes decisions based on examples set forth by their educators (or those in nearby districts) rather than by FEAR. I have high regard for the assistant superintendent (@rohan_arul) who is embracing (and teaching/modeling) social media as a way to better connect all those in his district through social media.I am VERY disappointed in this but please know that your FB page was shared throughout our district (way over here in BC) as a way to share great things from classrooms and get meaningful feedback from parents. We have a teacher that has been inspired by your page.The superintendent of the neighbouring district described policies that ban the use of social media as like “trying to stop the flow by putting a rock in a river – the water is just going to go around it” (read the article here “Dialogue worth the risk” http://bit.ly/pF0ga9 )You have truly inspired me as an educator and I am sure you will just find another way to converse about the amazing things happening in your class… it is just too bad that you are unable to meet parents where they already are.Thank you for being such a leader and demonstrating the positives of social media.

  10. bennettscience says:

    Just like everyone else, I’m really sad to hear that such a great tool was shut down. I’m curious if the same thing would happen if the learners were allowed to post the content, and you could tie it into their learning process?All of your examples were great and the communication looked awesome…especially the videos of the children doing their presentations.I would definitely encourage you to ask parents to call and write the school. You have a good relationship with the community, and I would be surprised if they didn’t support you if you asked them to publicly.

  11. KTVee says:

    I’m sorry to hear that your successful learning tool came under fire and even worse, you are now being prevented from using it at all. I do not understand this trend in education to hold all innovation back to keep things “plain” and “easy” for top level administration. Clearly, your practices were not only opening the lines of communication, but fostering open dialogue t as well. It is THAT kind of openness that we need to bring back into education. If we are truly to work as a team in our community with teachers and parents, we need this type of media. I hope that you don’t have to wait long for innovation and technology to be embraced in your district.

  12. Paula Lee Bright says:

    I am so sad for you. I know how it feels to pour yourself into a project and have it yanked away from you. I imagine your parents will feel cut off as well. I’m not entirely sure you’ve heard the end of it. In my state, Missouri, it is illegal for teachers to use Facebook (or else it’s in the works to make it so). I’ve stopped following the topic for updates because it made me too angry. Teachers—good teachers—are intelligent and don’t do things like this lightly. They think it through, set parameters and so on, which I’m absolutely sure you did. My fear is the school will insist you shut down your blog. Then we’re REALLY talking Big Brother. :/Best of luck, and keep up the fantastic communication with your parents.

  13. Keith Rispin says:

    It is terribly unfortunate that this has happened but you are not alone. It is happening all over North America for a variety of reasons. Although I doubt it will happen where I work, one can never be certain of these things. Good Luck.

  14. K Lirenman says:

    Wow, I just reviewed what you’ve done with your facebook page and it makes me feel so sad that you’ve been asked to shut it down. This year I’m experimenting with a class blog with little support from my colleagues or admin. I’m trying to follow the proper channels but I’m certain at some point I’ll be questioned. But, I’m going to keep exploring and learning with hopes of exciting my students, colleagues, and teachers into using the web as an amazing tool for learning. Please don’t give up with your fight. You have the right stuff, and hopefully one day your school district will figure that out. Karen

  15. DorothyShapland says:

    No FB or Twitter or G+. Can’t fully participate in PLN because of the risks if I speak as openly as you have here. Time will change all of this. Till then, know that you are not alone.

  16. Diane says:

    Wow. That really says a lot about the district doesn’t it? So sorry they are wasting everything you have worked for there.

  17. Anne De Manser says:

    I’d like to comment but I get so angry when I think about it that I can’t. I can only commiserate and hope that my own positive use of facebook in the classroom doesn’t meet the same fate!

  18. John Strange says:

    Thanks for trying to establish a learning community.Thanks for taking a risk.Thanks for trying to keep schools alive and relevant.Thanks for trying to lead us to the future.Thanks for trying to include parents in the community of learners.Oh yes, the administration. A message: unless we change we will all be changed! And that may not be for the best at all!

  19. Greg Garner says:

    It’s about safety. Not for the kids, but for the district. Far too many districts want their own ech chambers of back-slapping and high-fiving. Outside feedback opens the doors to failure. Relationships are messy and trying to add a third (or fourth or fifth) party by including parents means the dynamic is no longer linear. Before, students were told what to do and what to learn by teachers and teachers were told what to do and what to teach by admin, who set the rules based on what they were told to do. Many schools and districts aren’t prepred to accept what happens when hierarchies are flattened. Sad for you, brother…

  20. Kathy Hilby says:

    This is sad and shocking. Please know that your efforts have not been for naught. I have studied your posts and parent reaction and have now gotten permission to try a Facebook group with my high school class. Ironically, I was just coming back to check on how you set up your group when I read the sad news. Although some in your school may not want to learn from you, we do! Keep posting!

  21. TobyDiva says:

    Came across your post researching a presentation about teachers stepping into social media. You have my admiration and respect for coloring outside the lines to bring innovation to your students, parents and school. Hopefully your district will catch up to you sooner than later. It’s difficult to be a pioneer in a brave new world. Please don’t give up.

  22. Elly Faden says:

    Before adopting any social media tool in the classroom, it’s important for the teacher to know exactly what the tool does. That’s not always easy these days, when so many new tools are available, and we often don’t realize the ramification of their use.When I think of Facebook, I think of an open-forum for participation. The question I have here is: do we want all parents and all students communicating in one place? Thinking back on my own children’s school days, the answer would probably be “no.” “No,” I would not wanted to have an open-forum about why my son quit his soccer team, or why my daughter didn’t attend her prom. I would not have wanted 24 other parents chiming in on these topics; they should be confidential parent-teacher ones. I can actually think of very few places I would want other parents knowing all that much about my children.On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with parents setting up a facebook group to positively support a class. One would hope the group remains positive and supportive. Perhaps the group description would limit the kinds of disucssions allowed – so they would not degenerate into something unpleasant and unhappy. I would also suggest that whoever sets up the group does so with the intention of making it supportive. Parents are not teachers and do not have the training to know how to teach to standards, create differentiated instruction, etc. So, parents are going to have to remember that the teacher is the professional and give him or her the respect that is (so sorely) due to the profession.Also, teachers can certainly use engaging, interactive social media as part of their lessons. I still think Facebook is to open and risky for a parent-teacher relationship. Depending on the grade, appropriate, secure, and highly monitored tools can be brought into lessons. Teachers should know as much as possible ahead of time about the ramifications of using the tool, and should certainly make sure no bullying, inappropriate language or links, etc. are used. Unfortunately, many of these tools seem like the perfect fit for a lesson; what if the teacher is wrong?Adopting social media should be done cautiously and collaboratively. I think it’s a great topic for departmental meetings. How about everyone starting out on the same page, so when problem arises, there are others to help solve them.One final note: parents can certainly support schools in using technology more efficiently and effectively. I have developed the idea of “Parent-Teacher Technology Groups,” composed of interested and possibly more technically-savvy parents and teachers. These teams would meet after hours and determine approaches to help guide the school in its use of technology. However, all parents in a class do not have a place in every teacher-student relationship.

  23. Jane says:

    I really liked the facebook page you made for your students. I’m sorry that it had to be taken down.

  24. darcymullin says:

    I started a Facebook page for our school and it has been a great way to engage parents. I have full support from our district staff. Looking at some of your other posts, I can see even better ways to have teachers engage parents in dialogue. I agree with what you said about relationships. In order to develop meaningful relationships, someone needs to take a risk.

  25. George Sorrells says:

    I truly feel for you. I AM one of those administrators in a school district. My title is Technology Facilitator. I see my job as making it EASIER to use technology not harder, but unfortunately many in the education community do not feel the same.Keep up the good fight!

  26. Elly Faden says:

    Really, Mr. Sorrells, you think Facebook is the correct tool for Kindergartners? Even with setting security – it’s not a good idea. I would not want my child telling me that their homework was to go on Facebook. It is not meant for education. There are many other tools for classroom collaboration. If my child is on Facebook and happens to search for “NRA” and then joins the NRA, I would be quite upset. This would be like taking a class trip to Times Square and letting children wander around without supervision. I am going to be very pleased to hear about this teacher’s choice of an appropriate social networking tool for his classroom.

  27. William Chamberlain says:

    @Elly Faden,Did you even read the posts? You do realize that kindergarten students can’t actually have a Facebook account because it breaks their TOS (terms of service)? Maybe you should read the posts Mr. Gomez wrote about how he used Facebook before you start drawing your (rather ridiculous) conclusions. In response to your earlier comment, do you think that parents don’t talk about what is going on at school on the phone, in the supermarket, or on the corner? I would much prefer they have an open way to communicate with the school/teacher than through the gossip chain. What exactly are you afraid parents might say in the open forum that they aren’t already saying?

  28. George Sorrells says:

    Really, Ms Faden, did you look at HOW FB was being used? It was used as a means to communicate with PARENTS about what their kids were doing, as a means to get the PARENTS interested in the daily activities of the class. Facebook is simply a tool, that can be used. As a means of communication it can be a powerful tool. Would I condone a Facebook account for a kindergartner, no, but that is not how this was used. Heck, I won’t even let my sixth grader have a Facebook account. You have to look at the audience, and for this teacher’s audience Facebook is a completely appropriate social networking tool.

  29. Elly Faden says:

    Yes, I read the post. Did you see this: http://mattgomez.posterous.com/facebook-in-my-k-class-year-one-review? That is not acceptable to me as a parent. There is too much hatred and dangerous material on Facebook that can be easily accessed. Also, parents should carefully monitor their children’s use of it for social networking. Pease do some research and find a better, more appropriate tool for a classroom. In terms of what parents’ might say on Facebook that is not already being said, I don’t even want to open that Pandora’s box. I don’t want a parent to be able to find my personal profile and know all about me. Facebook has nothing to do with my child’s education.

  30. Chris Wejr says:

    There seems to be some misconceptions on how Facebook Pages are used. We have a FB page for our school and parents who use it… love it. It is their choice whether they want to “like” the page. Also, just because you “like” the page does not mean that anyone can access your information. If you security settings are strict, then nobody can see anything other than your name and avatar.Also, a FB can be heavily moderated. I read every single comment as it goes on the site and if there is a problem, it is deleted. In over 2 years, I have only deleted one comment and it was not offensive, just better discussed face to face.Facebook is not THE tool but A tool to meet those interested parents where they already are. Nobody was forcing Matt’s parents (of students) to use it but obviously those who did, greatly appreciated it – much like what is happening at our school. I do not expect EVERYONE to use Facebook but if the majority of the parents of our school use it, why not meet them there are share the great things that are happening at our school? It also benefits those parents that lack the cultural capital to come into the school on a regular basis.Facebook does not need to have anything to do with YOUR child’s education but it may be a good tool for others to stay informed – which, in turn, benefits the child..For more info on our Facebook page: go to my post “Your School Needs A Facebook Page”. http://bit.ly/oinnBJElly, I commend you for speaking your mind and going against what is said by most here. I hope that you can keep an open mind to the use of social media as a way to meet parents where they are.

  31. George Sorrells says:

    @ Elly Faden: If your argument is truly about hatred and dangerous material, then you should argue that all computers be pulled out of schools; because there is no way you can prevent your children from seeing those things. I don’t care how good your school’s filter is, there are ways the kids will find to bypass them. You as a parent have the right and ability to say no. You don’t have to join Facebook, you don’t have to join a group. You bring up a point that parent’s should monitor their kids social networking. You are right, but the vast majority of parents never will, because they don’t know how. What better place is there to teach children how to use something responsibly than in a school?

  32. Elly Faden says:

    I can also teach my children about porn, but I wouldn’t send them to a porn site. Facebook has been used for bullying (leading to death), inappropriate behavior, firing teachers and administrators, and hateful speech. The easiest thing in the world to do is to “search” for someone in your group, and follow their posts on their wall. This is OK if one wants to participate in Facebook, but it is NOT OK as a result of a teacher placing information about my child on Facebook.Facebook can certainly have amazing benefits, but, as you said, most parents don’t monitor their child’s use, which is even more reason for teachers not to encourage it. I have no problem with parents starting a private group. But, the teacher should not create it, as I think this is a breach of teacher-student confidentiality – no matter how “cute” or “harmless” the teacher thinks posts or videos are. Again, teachers can find exceptionally appropriate social networking tools where they can post classwork. And, they can invite parents to view and join. There is just too much danger AND commercialism on Facebook. For example, what if I don’t want to support an ad that pops up when I go to the teacher’s group page? The whole thing is just way too unpredictable – and, yes, revolutionary. Alternatively, I have devised a set of documentation that parents and teachers can use to help guide the adoption of technology in schools. I created a Facebook page, and wasn’t sure about promoting it here, but in general, I believe social networking is about sharing POSITIVE, well thought-out ideas. http://www.facebook.com/groups/182441658476827/

  33. Wm Chamberlain says:

    @Elly I find it incredibly ironic that you choose to condemn the use of Facebook and then have the temerity to post your Facebook page. Why would you ask us to follow you to a place you say is so dangerous?

  34. Chris Ziegler says:

    Elly,There are a couple of things that I would like to respond to in your last post:1. Please don’t even attempt to make a comparison between teaching Facebook and teaching porn.2. The group that the teacher set up is for the parents of students in his class. The teacher, as administrator of the group page, has the ability to set the privacy settings, and control the people that join the group. “Strangers” would not have access.3.The information posted on that page would not be “personal information”4. If you wanted to “follow someone” you would not need to access the group page to find that information out.5. Parents “monitoring” their child’s use would be a non-issue in this case, as it is the parent that is accessing the group page. Remember, this is for a kindergarten class.6. I am sure that each and every parent was allowed to make their own decision as to whether they chose to join the group page, and as to whether they wanted anything posted from their child7. Adds pop up in nearly every site that you go to now. If you don’t like an add that “pop up”, just hit refresh, and a new one will appear.8. If your argument is that such a group could/would lead to “hate speak” and “bullying”, how would be any better, or more appropriate, if it were started and monitored by a parent?9. This teacher used it as a way to get parents excited and involved in their children’s activities and performance in school.10. “I believe social networking is about sharing POSITIVE, well thought-out ideas” … I hope that you are not implying that this teachers group page was either negative, or poorly planned.

  35. Matthew Gomez says:

    Thank you to all who have responded. I appreciate all who take the time to comment regardless if you think what I am doing is appropriate.@Elly, I do appreciate your comments… without people pushing my thinking I would not have even tried something like this. I disagree with most of what your are saying. The questions you pose are why I spent 6 months researching the tool. It is why I had a “fake” group for 3 months to look for holes in the system. I feel strongly that my closed group is as secure as all the “safe” tools you talk about. It sounds like to me your argument is one against the name Facebook itself and not the facts I have presented. The parents in my class all signed a permission slip SPECIFIC to the page. I have 100% participation. Every parent on the site chose to use it. The feedback I got last year is the reason I continued with the project. Bottom line is it worked for me in my class. I know I can use other tools and that is the next step IF I can get approval. Here are few comments I received about closing the page. Keep in mind these parents have only been using the page for one month. Each comment is from a different parent.*What a shame! I love seeing what the children are doing on a daily basis & asking “my child” about it in the evenings. I definitely support the use of facebook as a tool for parents to share in their child’s classroom experience.*I really thought this was a good idea. It has allowed us to talk with our daughter more about exactly what she is doing in school. This way when she comes home to share about her day we already know more or less what is going on*Very sad!!! This was such a good idea. I was able to talk to “my child” about what they are doing in the class room.*I will miss the facebook page. I really enjoyed seeing what my daughter was doing in class everyday. It was fun when she came home and we could look at the group page together.*It was a great way to see what the kids were doing, and my daughter loved looking at the posts as well. I see a tremendous value in having this communication tool so it is quite a shame that the decision was to remove it. *Say it isn’t so! I LOVED your postings and my daughter enjoyed them too! We would have great discussions about her day and what she learned at school that day! *It was so nice to be connected to the kids day and the boys like showing off their videos and pictures to us.*We always looked forward to receiving the posts. We will miss having an inside view of what our little ones are doing.

  36. Elly Faden says:

    Hi, Matthew. Last summer, I gave a presentation at Stanford to some educators from Texas about using technology at schools. I am sure if you follow Mr. Hinds on Linked In and connect with him, you will get good advice about your next step. Thank you for this lively debate! http://www.linkedin.com/in/jhinds

  37. JanetLeadbeater says:

    Know that you have effected change with this project. You have inspired many other teachers to follow your path, and some of these will be successful. My own principal was blown away by your parents’ comments and is now more likely to allow me to use social media with my class. My thanks to you for all that you have shared, and I hope you will have a successful outcome in your next venture.

  38. Nathan_Wear says:

    @Elly Faden- Your lack of understanding clearly exemplifies why we need to start using social media in Kindergarten and teaching digital literacy.Mr. Gomez- you can come teach for my any day.

  39. Elly Faden says:

    Nathan,Your rude comments clearly exemplify why people do not collaborate in education and the whole system has fallen apart.

  40. Nathan Wear says:

    @Elly- Not sure how you misinterpreted my comments as rude. Unfortunately, your ignorance on this issue may prevent you from reaching understanding on how this teacher was using a powerful tool in his classroom. Clearly, using Facebook with Kindergarten students, as well as my response in this blog, shows a great deal of collaboration. Consequently, those of us moving forward in education will not be hindered by you, or anyone else’s, lack of risk taking and innovation.

  41. Greg Garner says:

    Is it fair to say that while this may be a worthy conversation, it's not going to be edifying nor constructive to continue down this current path? We have left the original topic and devolved into name-calling… I sincerely hope this is not what we intend for education reform… :/ –Greg Garner

  42. Maria Montero says:

    First of all, my apologies if my English is not so good.@Nathan Thank you SO MUCH for saying it. That’s exactly the point. We are afraid of things we do not control, or we are not sure enough on how they work. And that’s in the oldest song ever: the song of fear. Just giving birth to our children is taking risks, irresponsibly, like taking them to school or having vacations by the sea. Life IS about taking risk. Everyday. Everywhere. To be a teacher and not to be willing to take risks inside and outside the classroom… these two things just CANNOT go together.

  43. Elly Faden says:

    My background includes working at IBM and Oracle. You sound ridiculous to me. Go mow your lawn with a chainsaw, and enjoy the view. Last comment.

  44. Damian says:

    Matt, I did my thesis on the use of a class web page which had interactive features and photo sections. It was well use by the parents and was a success. I as told the told the same thing- it is a non-school page and you can’t have it. This was about 10 years ago. very little has changes. These sites, if manages well, are excellent

    Damian

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