Teachers on Twitter #what

Teachers on Twitter #what

High school is a delicate time in the life of a teenager. Almost old enough to be completely independent, we still have to cater to our parent’s wishes and  include them into our lives, whether we want to or not. We hold sacred the things that we, and we alone as teenagers, share. Being the generation brought up on technology, we tend to pick up on internet trends faster than our pen-and-paper parents.  With this inherent skill to simply “understand” the ways of technology, we are able to cherish these enigmas that only we understand for the while that they are ours’ alone. However, it seems as soon as we have settled into having a place to call our own, the adults finally realize what’s going on, and join in on our fun.

This year several districts and schools nationwide have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, disrupting the almost solely young-adult (with the exception of celebrities and businesses) world that we cling to. Thinking back, this has happened before. While Facebook used to be the escape for teens from their adult counterparts, it has now become a hub for old relatives who constantly update their statuses, describing in depth what they had for dinner. We teens quickly abandoned ship. This may too be the fate for Twitter, as now that our teachers and coaches have joined, it’s no longer our own. Are the schools trying to infiltrate our complex world, or are they simply trying to find ways to better communicate with us in a way we understand?

The first thing that comes to mind when students think about teachers on Twitter is that it’s all in all sort of creepy. Not so much that they’re tweeting us, but the fact that our own tweets can be seen by them. Most students would hope that the teachers aren’t quite as invested in our lives as we are, and are far too busy to investigate what their students are saying. However, some believe that the curiosity of what we put out for the world to see could be overwhelming.

When asked if she thought teachers were looking at student’s tweets, sophomore Hiba Khan said, “Probably, like, who wouldn’t? If you see someone interesting and you want to know more about them just go to their Twitter [….] Then they judge you a little bit.”

Administrators say that’s not the case. The assumptions that teachers and staff are interested in our lives and what we say on social networking sites may be based off of our own perception of what is and isn’t interesting. School officials say that their role in social media is simply to send information out, not to collect any in the process.

“I send out the @grhsnewsflash, news from the school, but I don’t follow anyone, and I don’t respond. It’s not something I delve into. Our perspective is to get information out about George Ranch High School, not to monitor the students,” said Principal, Mrs. Haack.

When students tweet, their intended audience is other students. Because of this, our tweets are often crude and informal, many times sprinkled with vulgar language. A common topic for students to tweet about is, of course, how much we hate school. Though there are times when positive thoughts are tweeted in regards school pride, the majority of school-related tweets are on the whole, negative. “It’s too cold in this school.” “My teacher is a suck-y teacher.” “Our cafeteria food is average.” “Why do I keep returning to this hell hole?” These are all fairly common sentiments that just about every student feels at one point or another. However, with the Media Agreement and the rule about reflecting one’s school in the appropriate light, things could end badly for those who keep tweeting these types of things. One wonders how much is too much, and what is considered infringing upon these contracts?

“The social media agreement applies to students who represent George Ranch High School in an extra-curricular or co-curricular program.  As representatives of George Ranch High School, students are held to a higher standard of behavior which includes never using social media to misrepresent themselves or George Ranch in a manner that may be viewed as inappropriate, cruel or derogatory toward the school they represent or others […] However, the social media agreement students sign is never to be used in a manner in which GRHS staff “police” student Twitter accounts, face book accounts, etc.  Students are entitled to their right to express themselves as well as advocate for themselves and we support students in this regard,” said Haack.

Despite that being said, some students still feel apprehensive about posting tweets that could be construed as negative or inappropriate for school.

“I haven’t tweeted […] bad things anymore. Not necessarily bad but like talking about teachers and about the school badly. Nobody is going to tweet and eventually people are going to stop tweeting and delete their twitters just because they don’t want teachers watching them,” said Khan.

However, one has to agree that this Twitter invasion could, quite simply, be for our benefit. For students who never write homework and assignments down, constant teacher updates could be incredibly helpful. I, myself have been reminded of homework through Twitter, and school has only been in session for three weeks.

“It’s just one additional method of making the information accessible to students. It’s not that the “twittering” is replacing anything we already do which is keeping the websites up to date, Edmodo accounts, of course your handouts with your syllabus and all those avenues; it’s just one more additional way to get that reminder out that there’s a timed essay tomorrow or remember that English research paper is due; that type of thing,” said Haack.

But it’s not just Twitter that teachers have urged us to use, there’s also a Facebook-esque site called Edmodo that teachers have forced students to become a part of. In fact, some teachers even counted joining Edmodo as a minor grade. Unlike Twitter, Edmodo’s sole purpose has always been an academic one. It focuses on the interaction between students and teachers and allows students to ask questions about assignments, submit grades, and discuss ideas. It lets teachers post polls, PowerPoints, and calendars. The environment has a just enough social-network feel for students, and its user-friendly interface accommodates teachers as well. However, there is no grey area as to what students should post as there is with Twitter.

“I think they should just stick to Edmodo because it’s a lot easier for them and for us,” said Khan.

Despite all of this, only time will tell what will become of the student-teacher Twitter use. Once again, our safe-haven to say what we feel has been slightly imposed upon as teachers and parents join the social-networking world. However, it’s happened before, and it will most likely happen again. Teens will discover a newer, cooler and less direct way to communicate that will baffle the adults surrounding us, until they too end up joining whatever it is that we’ve created. And we will struggle to continue generating worlds apart from our parents as we become increasingly more independent.