3 Tips for High School Teachers to Use Social Media Responsibly In Class

Social media is popular among teens, but not among their teachers.

Eighty-seven percent of K-12 teachers have not integrated social media into classroom learning, according to a new survey from the University of Phoenix College of Education.

North Carolina educator Ike Smith says high school teachers may be grappling with how to take social media, which is relatively new, and integrate it into their existing practice.

“In high school, another layer to that anxiety can be that my students are also on the social media platform that I may want to use,” says Smith, a former high school teacher, who is now director of instructional support services for Watauga County Schools. Teachers may not know if or how to interact with their students professionally online, he says.

Many teachers are worried about conflicts that could arise from using social media with their students and students’ parents, according to the new survey. And some feel intimidated by students’ knowledge and use of technology devices.

But Smith thinks high school teachers should move past their fear and embrace social media because there is a lot they can do with it.

Educators on Twitter shared with U.S. News their ideas for using social media in the high school classroom.

But when high school teachers are using social media for other educational purposes, they need to do so responsibly. Teachers can use the tips below as a guide.

1. Be wary about using the same social media accounts for personal and professional use: “Teachers may be enthusiastic about using social media in class,” says Smith. But if teachers use an existing personal account to start doing that, they run the risk of parents or students seeing content that isn’t professional, he says.

Teachers need to know how to skillfully draw that line and maintain a professional posture in the digital space, he says. That can be tricky since teachers do want to show a bit of their personal side to build strong relationships with their students, but students don’t need to be aware of every aspect of their teachers’ lives.

“I think if you are new to using social media in teaching, the easiest way to walk that line is to have two separate accounts and just have a clean divide,” he says.

He has never accepted friend requests from current students for his personal Facebook account. He has used Twitter and Instagram for professional purposes, but he never follows students on either platform.

Educators on Twitter shared their thoughts below.

2. Be transparent with parents about how social media will be used: Smith’s found some parents get on board with social media right away, but others may have heard horror stories about what happens when students interact online and may be a little hesitant at first.  

However, once they see why and how teachers are using it, they get on board. Smith taught Hamlet to his high school English class a couple of years ago, and had students adapt portions of the play for any medium they chose. One group chose short video social platform Vine – teachers could show parents a project like this.

Teachers could also show parents the class Twitter account during parent-teacher conferences, he says. Or teachers could have a night for parents to get the lowdown on Twitter, help parents set up their own accounts and show them how to follow the class feed.  

An educator on Twitter agrees.

3. Get proper permission from administrators and parents: Teachers should research any existing policies to ensure they follow proper procedure, says Smith.

If students are going to be required to use social media for class, teachers need to get permission from parents, he says.

Educators on Twitter shared their thoughts as well. 

Then, teachers should talk to their building administrator, Smith says. 

“When you start that conversation, go into it prepared,” he says.  Smith suggests teachers can go to administrators with a five-point plan or bulleted list and say precisely what social media will be used for, whether to communicate with parents or a project, for example. 

“That’s something that an administrator I think would have trouble saying no to,” he says. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: