I am a big proponent of educators utilizing a variety of social media outlets to participate in professional development, engage students in the learning, and maintain open communication lines with stakeholders concerning important events. Having said that, I have had an occurrence that has got me asking the question of where is the line?
My 2 boys (4 1/2 and 2 1/2) both go to school/daycare. It is a WONDERFUL facility with an amazing staff who genuinely care about the social, emotional, and cognitive growth of all of the children who attend. My youngest son is in the 2-3 year old room and, with any child who is exploring the world but can not fully express himself, there are instances where two children will get into a scuffle. Sometimes it is a little hitting or pushing, sometimes biting, but these are isolated incidents and parents are informed of when they occur. All of the rooms are under video surveillance and in order to protect all parties involved, a parent is notified that their child was involved in an incident but is not informed of who the other child is.
I pick my boys up from school in the afternoon and notice that my youngest son has a scrape on his nose and by his eye. I ask the teacher in the room what happened and she did not know. This is not necessarily uncommon because of the shifts that the teachers have during the work day. She went to go check in the office to see if there was a notification and came back to tell me that there was not one. At this point, I go to the office and speak with the directors asking them to check the video to see what had happened because there is one child in the class who has been having some issues in respecting the personal space and belongings of other children. (The only reason why I know this child is because my son tells me who did it when something happens.) The directors apologized that there was no incident report and said that they would look at the video and get back to me.
Here is where my dilemma started...through Facebook, I am connected to many of the teachers' personal pages that my kids had at the school. As I said, they are wonderful people there and like keeping up with the goings on of the school's families, even after they have left a particular class. My quandary was do I contact the teacher directly through Facebook to see what happened.
I remember when I was a second year teacher and a parent called me a home to yell at me about their child's progress (or lack thereof) and to challenge what I was teaching in class. I remained calm, answered all of her concerns, and then politely told her that if she has further questions or concerns that she should contact me at school via phone or email and do not call me at home again. When I received that phone class at my home, I felt attacked and felt that this parent had broken a line of decency, for lack of a better term, because she had made no attempt to contact me at school.
As I was trying to decide if I should send her a private message about the incident, I received one from the director of the daycare indicating that he saw my son fall down (with no one around him) and that seemed to be the only event that could have caused this incident. He further explained in the message that he would speak with the teachers in the room and remind them of reporting policies and procedures.
Since I had a resolution to this incident and it was cause by my son's inherited grace and balance, I did not contact the teacher via Facebook. When I dropped the kids off the next day, the teacher came directly to me and told me what she knew about the incident and showed me the report that was completed, but had not been filed yet.
Should I have contacted the teacher via her personal page? If she had a work email or classroom page, I would have no issue in initiating the contact. When I thought of my own experience, I felt that contacting her via her personal page would be akin to the phone call that I received at home. But what of the director contacting me?
I viewed this as a contact from the school to a parent in which, as a teacher, I would call the home or business number or email an available address to discuss any issue. I did question why he did it via his personal Facebook account, but did not push the matter.
It just raised some questions. Where is the line of appropriate contact? As an educator, I would not want people posting items to my personal page nor calling me at home uninvited. How much training do we provide for our staffs about issues like this? Connecting with parents and students through personal pages? Are mandates and policies needed? Guidelines?
Regardless, education of all is needed in appropriate ways to establish lines of communication in the hyper connected world.