Adults use Facebook to find and celebrate former teachers

Former students are using the social media network to track down and thank their teachers from decades ago.

Former students are using the social media network to track down and thank their teachers from decades ago.

Make time today to read this wonderful New York Times story on people reconnecting and celebrating their former  teachers via Facebook.

Considered a platform for kids to connect and maintain social ties, Facebook is also turning out to be a way their parents can find their favorite high school music teacher or their beloved middle school English teacher.

The story also talks to retired teachers who discovered their former students had created tribute pages that include such comments as, “You inspired each of us to learn and go beyond what we thought we could achieve,” lighthearted claims on old debts “You owe us a pool party — you promised us one if the Dow ever reached 3,000” and recollections of specific events “You got me out of detention one time.”

An interesting passage in the story:

The tributes underscore what researchers have identified as a major force in adolescents’ lives, said Jacqueline Ancess, a researcher at Teachers College at Columbia University. “The most powerful factor in transforming students is a relationship with a caring teacher who a kid feels particularly connected to,” said Dr. Ancess, who added that many students had told her that if not for a particular teacher, they would not have graduated or would not have taken a certain direction.

16 comments Add your comment

William Casey

July 14th, 2010
9:56 am

Facebook has been a valuable tool in helping this retired teacher/coach/administrator connect with former students and players. It’s amazing the things they remember!

Mike Vigilant

July 14th, 2010
10:40 am

Just last week, I reconnected with an amazing middle school teacher on Facebook. It was surprising and exciting and was definitely a highlight in my week. I’m glad to see more teachers embracing the technology and more students willing to pay tribute.

Just A Teacher

July 14th, 2010
10:46 am

How ironic! Here in Georgia, administrators fire teachers for having Facebook pages. Oops! For the sake of accuracy I should say that administrators force teachers to resign for having Facebook pages.

Maureen Downey

July 14th, 2010
10:59 am

@Just a Teacher, By the way, that court date for the Facebook “firing” is Aug. 7 last time I checked. The AJC plans to cover.
Maureen

schlmarm

July 14th, 2010
11:01 am

@William Casey, me too! I’m loving it. It IS amazing the things our former students remember, and also how grateful they are for the education we gave them. Those were the days.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BC Kumar. BC Kumar said: Adults use Facebook to find and celebrate former teachers http://bit.ly/90cqMe [...]

Ros Dalton

July 14th, 2010
1:42 pm

It is amazing the bias displayed against Facebook by administrators in the GA school system. I wonder if it’s not handed down from on high for some reason. I volunteered frequently at our school and occassionally posted or emailed pictures from events. The only time there was an objection (from our principal) was when I posted some on Facebook. I mostly emailed links to .zip files, but even posting albums to Picasa, which is pretty much wide open as far as a search, didn’t raise a peep.

It goes without saying, I hope, that I knew the parents of these kids and had spoken to them first about creating class/event picture albums, etc.

Dr. John Trotter

July 14th, 2010
2:58 pm

Enter your comments here

Dr. John Trotter

July 14th, 2010
3:08 pm

Teaching Is Relationships!

It is rather humbling to have forty-plus-year-olds whom you talk in junior high get on Facebook and say so many nice things about their experiences in your class. One of my former students even remembers the cheer that I started up when he came to Home Room (23, by the way) late one morning. Our homeroom always won the contests — no matter what the contests were. So, we were in a can food drive, and trying to “whup” (not just beat) the other homerooms. (I actually instituted a campaign called “Cheatin’ for Charity” and would buy the cans from kids from other homerooms while I was on hall duty in the morning.) We actually turned our HR into “Big Star.” (Y’all do remember Big Star Grocery Store, right?) Well, this one particular morning, Devin strolled in late (and Devin was and still is a character), and I demanded, “What did you bring?” He sheepishly pulled out a can of yams! I started, “Bip Bop Bam! Devin brought some Yams! Bip, Bip, Bam! Devin brought some Yams!” The whole class in unison was doing this cheer! Today, the numbskull administrators would probably write me up for this. So stupid these days. But, more than 25 years later, Devin, who, by the way had a serious stroke last year but is doing much better now, brought this cheer up on FB.

The other day, one of my former junior high football players, Eric, wrote me a note on FB. I remember in the 7th grade that he did not want to play football (and kept saying this as he hugged the grass on the ground) but his father (a Delta airline pilot) made him stay out for football. I nicknamed him “Tiger.” Well, Tiger gets bigger and bigger and by his senior year at Jonesboro Sr. High, he makes First Team All State and signs with Perdue University in the Big Ten Conference. The other day, he wrote me a message and said that he told all of his Perdue teammates that he never had a coach (even in college) who could motivate the players and get them fired up like “Coach Trotter,” his junior high coach. I am a little hard and crusty these days, but this did make me smile.

I saw that another one of my students had on his school profile as a teacher and coach in North Georgia that I was a great influence in his life as far as becoming a teacher and a coach. He has great parents, and I see David’s parents occasionally down here on the Southside. This kid did not have much athletic ability but he had and still has great heart and is a great coach. This reminds me of Charles (Chuck) Hurston. He played football for my father at Jordan Vocational High School in Columbus, Georgia in the late 1950s. The Head Coach wanted my father to take up his uniform because “he’ll never be a football player.” My father refused. Chuck began to come around. But, he was still tall and gawky. But, by his senior year, he signed with Auburn University. After Auburn, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs of the old American Football League. In 1967, Charles (Chuck) Hurston was a starting defensive end (# 85) in the First Super Bowl versus the Green Bay Packers. He and my father still see each other from time to time, and although my father is 85 (and my mom too), Chuck still calls my father “Coach Trotter.”

One thing that the educrats forget is that teaching children is about relationships, not standardized tests. © MACE, July 14, 2010.

Dr. John Trotter

July 14th, 2010
3:10 pm

That should be “taught, ” not “talk” on the first line. Desulpe me!

Dr. John Trotter

July 14th, 2010
3:12 pm

Desculpe me, not “desulpe” me. Darn fingers are going too fast today. That’s Portuguese for “I’m sorry.”

Maureen Downey

July 14th, 2010
4:25 pm

@Ros, I think it is age thing. Older administrators do not understand the role of Facebook today in daily life. It is a mistake on their part not to realize that.
Maureen

[...] comments from AJC Education writer Maureen Downey and her readers: http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/07/14/adults-use-facebook-to-find-and-celebrate-former-t... Posted by Perry Binder at 4:32 [...]

5th grade teacher

July 14th, 2010
6:38 pm

Where is that poster that always posts about discipline and then chews you out, Maureen? I expect him to comment on every story, no matter what. Is he a former boyfriend? What’s his deal?

@Dr. Trotter

July 14th, 2010
10:42 pm

Looks like a lot of bashers are going to have to admit that students do respond well good old fashioned education after all. And all of that success and respect, years later, without resorting to mollycoddling or psychobabble. Amazing what happens when you let teachers teach.

Sidney C

July 15th, 2010
10:56 am

yes, but are there steps in place to protect educators against bullying against the teacher or their children on social media such as this?
I know an excellent teacher, who walked away because of violations of privacy due to one former student who was ill and kept trying to contact the teacher and then his children, posing as someone else.

He left and is now flourishing in the corporate arena….