Is it OK for parents to Facebook private message new teachers?

I was having dinner with a Gwinnett County teacher last week and throughout the entire meal, her phone kept dinging with messages.

We finally asked her what was going on and she said her school posted the class lists that day and parents from her new class were  private messaging her on Facebook.

Some were saying they were excited to be in her class and others were explaining other concerns or situations.

And while I understand parents needing to communicate with teachers, I just think it’s rather presumptuous to track down the teacher through social media and bother her on her summer break.

Next week that teacher will be at school preparing for the year, and I have no issue with the parents emailing her at her school account before the first day of school. I think that’s totally appropriate, but the private messaging on FB seemed rude.

What do you think: Is private messaging your future or current teacher on FB or Twitter presumptuous and stalker-like? Or are their social media accounts fair game?

46 comments Add your comment

A reader

July 28th, 2013
11:01 pm

I am appalled that some of the parents tracked her down on facebook and messaged her. I would never do that. In fact, I have very little reason to contact a teacher via their official email address on the county school system. Teach my child and treat her fairly and I will never harass you. Period.

But then, I hate facebook and I hate the way that Mark Zuckerberg keeps track of everyone on facebook. People are angry that the NSA tracks our communication?!! Just look at what facebook and doubleclick does!!! You post anywhere (including this blog) and every damn advertiser ever knows it. Let alone the government that is trying to track terrorist. HELLOOO???

real life

July 29th, 2013
5:07 am

No it is not acceptable in any instance. Any concerns related to a child’s education should be sent to a teacher’s work email or the teacher should be contacted via phone at the school.

Teachers, like everyone else, should have their social media privacy restrictions set to prevent everyone from accessing their social media pages. And parents who do contact a teacher via social media should immediately receive the teacher’s work email address as a reply.

Many school systems have policies regarding social media. If they do not have those policies they should develop them and, unless it is the school’s facebook page, all interaction between parents and teachers on Facebook concerning school should be banned.

Mayhem

July 29th, 2013
5:53 am

First of all, you can turn the notifications off. Second WHY was she checking her phone during a meal with friends. These cell phones and smart phone have made us a bunch of impolite rude people. Noting will kill a face to face conversation quicker than the ring of a cell phone or a beep of a text.

Put the phone down for a few minutes and be polite to the person you are with.

tchrmom

July 29th, 2013
6:22 am

No,no, no! Let me get to know your child before you fill my head with “stuff”, especially by way of social media. A lot of times I will not see the behaviors/concerns the parents have seen in the past. Children mature over the summer, they are grouped with different children, they have a different teacher with a different personality. Each year is completely different. The only time I need to hear from a parent before school starts is about a child who has a medical concern or a serious mental/social issue. In that case, our administration, school nurse or the counselor will have told me all about it before I meet the child. I want to get a chance to get to know the children and give them a chance to start out with a clean slate before parents step in and give me “insight” to their child. I send home a paper on the first day of school, for the parents to fill out about their child. They can let me know what they think their child’s learning style is, favorite subject, goals for the year, etc. After a couple of weeks, we can begin to address any concerns or problems but give me a chance to bond with the child before forcing me to form an opinion of that child based on parent comments. I don’t like to hear comments from the child’s former teachers either…good or bad. I’ll figure out for myself who is gifted and hasn’t been tested, who likes to talk, who is full of drama, who needs to run lots of errands, who needs a little extra attention and so forth.

catlady

July 29th, 2013
6:30 am

I agree with you, Theresa, but it is a little more than just presumptuous. Contact your child’s teacher via school,email–great. Mbut interfere with her personal life–NO.

I had my phone number non-listed after a few years because I was getting stupid calls at home” Why hasn’t my son’s ball team practiced?”

motherjanegoose

July 29th, 2013
6:56 am

Sheesh..Some parents! My answer ( to your question) is NO!

My ( related) question is: Should teachers carry their cell phones with them all day and check their Facebook and text others? I am just back from 12 teacher training sessions in Houston and I visited 8 schools with summer camp. A colleague ( sp?) told me that she was talking ( to teachers) about classroom situations ( not my topic) and she mentioned NOT carrying your cell phone around and using it, while you are supposed to be teaching. Some teachers gave her an appalled look. I am old fashioned and also think this way. I have had teachers, who text and look at Facebook while they are in the room with their children and I am sharing a session. To me, this is not appropriate. BUT at least I am in the room. What if they got involved with something on their cell phone and they missed something going on the in room? I work with Pre K and Kinder teachers and lots could happen very quickly.

What do schools say about this? Anyone?

K's Mom

July 29th, 2013
7:08 am

As a parent who is not an educator, the FB thing is very rude! I hope I remember my manners when my little guys start school! I am friends with my 3yo’s preschool teacher and we are in contact via FB and text, but almost never talk about K.

@MJG, I think there are times when it may be ok for teachers to have a few minutes of downtime and look at FB if they use good judgement. But everyone needs to learn to put their phones away!

motherjanegoose

July 29th, 2013
7:28 am

@ K’s Mom….I love ya but what if the teacher was using the phone while YOUR child climbed on top of the table/jumped from a swing/ran with a scissors/ put something in his mouth etc. I have seen WAY too many things happen in a second. It is not as scary as texting while driving but little children move SO quickly and things can happen in the blink of an eye! Having been in the room with THOUSANDS of children, I do not think teachers need down time, while they are solely in charge. I have NEVER checked my Facebook or texted while with the children. Guess I am way too old fashioned. I never had a cell phone when I was a classroom teacher and I survived. I know it could be useful in emergencies. Just like a fire extinguisher. Not like we have that emergency once a month ( thankfully).

Sitting at a computer and checking your account, while working, is not the same as being in charge of 20 children and looking at your phone. That is just my opinion.

....

July 29th, 2013
7:31 am

Enter your comments here

FCM

July 29th, 2013
7:32 am

TACKY! No you don’t talk to your child’s teacher via private message Facebook. You email them on their school email. Then if you don’t get a follow up (Cobb and Fulton require a response within 24 hours) you can escalate your concern up the chain of command.

Would those parents doing that be ok if their clients/customers were on Facebook talking to them? I bet not.

Even though I am a jerk....

July 29th, 2013
7:32 am

…I agree with Mayhem and MJG, why answer when with other people in a social setting or on the job?

FCM

July 29th, 2013
7:40 am

@tchrmom, I have a Tier 3 child. I do not like when I find a teacher did not hear from the last one what progress we have made. Did not find out what we have tried that worked in the past (or didn’t work). Starting at zero every *&^# year is not helping my child. We spend weeks every school year with the new teacher “documenting” so we can get a base study and start all over at Tier 1.

I go to a new role at work I certainly look at what my predecessor has done. Any documentation and “clues” so I can hit the ground ready to work.

I was assured by one of the same child’s teachers last year, that they already knew who they were planning to place her with this school year. That teacher and the school principal were talking to the teacher before school starts just so I don’t have to put up with going backward in the “game” that has become her school career!

catlady

July 29th, 2013
7:47 am

MJG, that bothers me with some of my younger colleagues. Cannot teach for messaging each other! What also drives me nuts is colleagues spending their time during in-service either texting or talking to their neighbors, openly, rudely. I have complained to my principal about it, as it reflects poorly on us, and detracts from the experience for others. Also it is so unprofessional!

The cake-taker, however, was the court reporter texting while she was working at a civil trial I sat on!

motherjanegoose

July 29th, 2013
7:57 am

@ catlady….a teacher who attended one of my sessions last week, friended me on Facebook. She also posted, ” I am sitting at a workshop and would rather be at the beach.” I replied, ” Did you not have fun?” She then posted, ” That was during another session…not yours…yes I had fun.” If you are supposed be listening and learning, how can you be on your phone?

K's Mom

July 29th, 2013
7:58 am

@MJG, you are right about kids being able to do crazy things in a minimal amount of time and again, I have never been in a classroom. I was really thinking if there were a presentation such as yours, I would have no problem with a teacher catching up on email and paper work while another adult was in charge. But again, I am not a teacher so i could be very wrong.

Techmom

July 29th, 2013
8:27 am

Not cool for the parents to seek out the teacher on social media but it’s just as bad that the teacher was responding when out with her friends. Boundaries anyone?

Me

July 29th, 2013
8:29 am

No, no, and again, no. Teachers have an email address to be used for official business. Unless specifically instructed by the teacher to reach out via FB then this should be off limits and the teachers should simly ignore it and perhaps even block the parent. I don’t have FB so unsure if the latter is possible.

CC

July 29th, 2013
8:33 am

It is never appropriate to contact a teacher via FB. Email or ask for a conference. Yikes! Some people do not have any idea there are boundaries we just should not cross!! I’m sure when that person was confronted they did not understand that they had crossed the line. Typical thinking of some people in todays society that the rules don’t apply to them.

Aubrey

July 29th, 2013
8:41 am

That is awfully presumptious to be contacting a teacher on FB. If I only know her because of her job, then I am going to contact her through work email. How would any of us feel if coworkers and colleagues started hitting us up on fb instead of using work email?

As far as cell phones in the classroom, my daughters’ preschool/daycare kept all teacher phones in the front office and I think that is a very good policy especially with younger students. I don’t think phones need to be kept in the front office but they certainly should not be out except for planning periods.

Also, lucky gwinnett students already knowing who their teachers are. We have a 1 hour window during the day to find out on Aug 1st… when school starts MONDAY.

RJ

July 29th, 2013
8:53 am

I have had to stop calling parents from my cell phone or remember to block my number. Parents will keep the number and randomly call me about stuff I don’t even control. I mean really! I would not get a Facebook page for parents. Website with an email attached is fine. I feel the same when I see students in the store. I don’t want to talk about your child on my personal time.

NTLB

July 29th, 2013
9:19 am

As a teacher, myself, I feel that my FB page and email are my private space. NO it is out of place for parents to email via this medium.

z

July 29th, 2013
9:21 am

Everything about facebook is rude. Why some poeple willingly choose to degrade themselves with it is simply beyond me.

Well said, z...

July 29th, 2013
9:25 am

…well said…

cc03

July 29th, 2013
9:34 am

As an educator (not a classroom teacher), my response is NO. This is very inappropriate. If the parents have questions or concerns, then it would be appropriate to contact the teacher through school e-mail. FB is private-I would not respond to the private messages sent to me from parents.

catlady

July 29th, 2013
9:35 am

Now, RJ, I don’t agree with you about running into a parent at the store. In my small co Munich that happens a good bit. I say hello, and introduced myself if I have not met the parent. I make cheerful small talk. I usually bring up something I appreciate about their child. If it is a kid I am concerned about, I ask if we can get together one day at school and talk some more.

With my Latino parents, I introduce myself and make a few observations about their child, in Spanish. I remind them that we have a translator who can help us if we need it, and give them her school number. I ask them to give us a call if they have a concern or question, and that I will do the same. You would not believe how those few minutes can break down barriers!

When I was being hired (1973), the superintendent told me that I would always be watched by others, and not to go to the Piggly Wiggly in curlers or shorts! You have to understand, he had a crew cut and bow tie! (He was a great superintendent!)

catlady

July 29th, 2013
9:38 am

Co Munich? What is that? I meant my small community. Sorry!

catlady

July 29th, 2013
9:49 am

FCM, sounds like u are having RTI trouble. Have you thought/tried telling them to cut the crap and test the kid!?there is NO good reason this delaying tactic should be used year after year. If school folks say it can’t be done, tell them you are taking the problem to OCR or some other authority, because your child needs help they are not getting (if you think your child has a disability). As a teacher I am completely fed up with this tactic for NOT helping kids get an appropriate placement and the help they need.

Jessica

July 29th, 2013
9:57 am

@Me — I agree that it is inappropriate for parents to contact teachers via social media, especially uninvited, but I’m not sure ignoring or blocking them is the best response. It will probably just antagonize the parents, especially the type of parents who thinks it’s okay to invade a teachers social life.

Maybe a better response would be for the teacher to answer that she is looking forward to teaching little Susie this year, then inform her that she prefers to communicate with parents and/or students using her official school email address. Keep the message short and positive, and the problem is resolved without creating hostility.

HB

July 29th, 2013
10:04 am

Sending a message to a personal FB account or email address is pretty much the same as calling the teacher at home — it’s rude and intrusive.

DB

July 29th, 2013
10:36 am

Wow – a lot of helicopter parents out there, if they are stalking the poor teacher via Facebook!!! Why not an email to their work email address if they feel the need to connect — and don’t be surrprised if it’s not answered until the teachers report for work? If I were the teacher, I would be deleting every message, and then just say, “Oh, sorry, that’s not a good way to get in touch with me.” (For those who aren’t aware, you can private message (PM) someone even if you aren’t FB friends with them.)

It irritates the HELL out of me to see people so glued to their cell phone that that they can’t even do their job. I had one cashier a few months ago who was yacking on the phone, and kept making errors on my checkout. I finally put my finger on a bell by the counter (the one you push if no one is there — as far as I was concerned, she wasn’t there! — and the manager came up, confused. I asked him, “Can you PLEASE tell her to put her phone away and pay attention to what she is doing? She has already made two mistakes!” In his university classes, my husband has told his students that anyone on FB or on their cell phone during class will receive a zero for participation for that day. One girl was astonished when her final grade dropped an entire grade because her participation grade was basically a 1 out of 10. “I didn’t think you meant it!” she whined. And he is very obvious about turning HIS phone off just before class and putting it away.

I remember my son’s 2nd grade teacher. Our school only put the names on the classroom door, and you didn’t find out your teacher until the first day of school (this was 20 years ago). He was hoping it wasn’t a particular teacher — and, of course, it was. It ended up being a fantastic year for him and the teacher and I became friends outside of school.

Why do they tell kids that far ahead of time? It just makes some kids — not to mention their parens — more anxious, not less. They’ll find out who their teacher is soon enough — time to learn to develop just a tiny bit of patience.

I don’t believe a teacher — or ANY employee — should have their phone out for private texting, checking FB, etc. when they are on the job. It steals time away from their students and their job. I mean, goodness gracious, HOW did we do our jobs, enjoy our friends and take care of our families BEFORE we had smartphones?

MomtoKTB

July 29th, 2013
10:37 am

FCM – Amen! Tchrmom said “The only time I need to hear from a parent before school starts is about a child who has a medical concern or a serious mental/social issue. In that case, our administration, school nurse or the counselor will have told me all about it before I meet the child.”

Two kids with 504s and one with an IEP. EVERY year we would have issues in the classroom early on that were clearly addressed by the legal documentation. Nearly EVERY year the kid would get off to a rough start. So for the past couple years and going forward, I insist on setting a group meeting with all teachers the first week of school to be sure we’re all on the same page, as well as give them a 1-2 minute heads-up on orientation day on my more emotional one (since that’s the only contact you can have before the first day). And no offense to the “administration, school nurse or the counselor,” but I would rather give the teacher the straight scoop than force him/her to rely on the success of the “telephone game” to effectively teach my child.

On the topic, no excuse to contact teachers by their personal contacts unless they have asked for that. :-)

Beck

July 29th, 2013
11:37 am

MomtoKTB –

Glad to hear that you are so proactive! In my (16 years of) experience, we DON’T get that paperwork until a week or 2 into the school year and as you well know, that can be too late for some students.

Open lines of communication between parent and teacher, the sooner the better are best practice. I hope you and your kids have a great upcoming year!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 29th, 2013
11:49 am

I’m glad to know that you guys agree the PM on FB is intrusive —

to defend my friend, it just kept dinging the whole time — that’s the only reason she looked but I guess could have turned it off — I think she was shocked to see the parents sending notes and also some of the behind the scenes stuff with parents trying to get kids switched classes — i think she was pretty shocked by it all

VaLady

July 29th, 2013
12:06 pm

Contacting the teacher via FB or other social media at any time is completely and totally rude and unwarranted. If you have a child with special needs (and I did), you should wait until school starts and then ask the teacher how he/she wants information. I found that it was best to give the teacher a quick heads up via email once school started. I would then request a face-to-face meeting a few weeks into school. By that time, the teacher has seen my child and the conversation would be more productive. I heartily agree with the comments about the teacher pocketing the cell phone during work hours and only using it during “emergencies” or breaks.

Kat

July 29th, 2013
12:50 pm

The school should not have posted the class lists. However, once they do, parents should only email the teacher, unless the teacher suggests otherwise. I would be annoyed if the school suggested I reach out to a teacher via Facebook anyway.

Also, I never know whether to refer to a teacher as Ms. Doe or as Jane when I finally reach out to them.

beth

July 29th, 2013
1:06 pm

I would never do something like that. I can’t imagine the thinking behind that. Last year, we were starting at a new school and had been told by our teacher at the end of the previous year that there were suspicions that my daughter may be dyslexic. I contacted the assistant principal in charge of her grade via the school e-mail. My only point in contacting the principal was to ask for an experienced teacher in order to make sure the dyslexia symptoms didn’t slip thru the cracks. We had a face to face meeting prior to school starting and she asked me to write a letter describing my daughters issues and then gave it to her teacher. I had no contact with the teacher until curriculum night. It never even occurred to me to even try to look at her teacher’s facebook page…. let alone contact them. Very intrusive.

FCM

July 29th, 2013
1:14 pm

@ catlady–actually I just went straight to the school principal (younger one) and the assistant principal (older one). I set up an appointment, handled it like I would any meeting I would set up in my “paying” job. I went in with documents and fact. I said I need your help, I cannot keep doing this every year. I am a single mom, with limited time and cannot deal with the current approach. I need for everyone to understand that email is our best friend. I can respond quickly, I do read it. Phone calls are next best, but they have to be scheduled…and that includes teleconferce. If you want face to face meetings, that requires me to take vacation time. I am willing to do that but would prefer using vacation time to DO something with my children not meet with teachers.

To the credit of the administrators, they were fully onboard with working with me. They were fine with stepping aside and letting me deal directly with the teachers who wanted to work with me. It meant many emails in some cases, but most of the teachers thanked me for staying on top of my 2.

I related before, I went one meeting and the Asst Principal came in with me. The teachers all got real nervous as their boss walked. I told them, relax he is not here for you. He is here to let Susie know we mean businesss; Susie knows if “Coach” is involved it has hit the fan.” They certainly did learn that as he let me talk to them with very little input from him, but the minute Susie came in the door he told her “You see all of us here? We care. When are you going to start? Your Mom is taking time off work, these teachers are giving up their planning, and young lady need to tell us what you want. Stop wasting our time with your game.” Susie told me later that one other teacher at the table (also male like Coach) pulled her aside later and said “Do you think we ganged up on you?” Susie said kind of. He told her to remember that Coach first said “We all care” and that we were not there to gang up but we could not do the work for her. That was before Thanksgiving and she was in some serious grade issues. Can I just tell you she ended up on Honor Roll by Q4! We were all thrilled and told her so. That is why you need to listen to parents, b/c at least half the things they wanted to do (can you test her for ADD? Yes, I can, but since she was diagnosed 4 years ago and her excused absence is from her psychologist why would we start there?). Like Tchrmom, they had not bothered to look in her record and find out.

This year I looked at the school supply list and and then looked at what has worked for each kid in the past. I took a few ideas from each school supply list and applied them to both children. If the teachers have an issue with it, they can contact me and I can explain that we have a method that works.

(sorry, I rambled there)

@ the teachers on the board…I cannot make the “Meet and Greet” due to a work deadline. My Mom is taking them. I was going to send in a note/card to introduce myself (not the child) with my Mom. Good idea or no?

To the parents that want to FB the teacher….do you want the teacher reading your FB posts and bugging you?

cobbmom

July 29th, 2013
1:54 pm

FB is NOT appropriate contact for parents and teachers should NEVER “friend” the parent of a current student or the student. I make it clear at the beginning of the school year that my school email is the best way to contact me. I check it several times a day and respond to parent emails as soon as I see them. I don’t take class time, I use my lunch, planning time and between classes. I have never had a parent call my cellphone during school hours, perhaps because I leave it in my purse with the sound off, but teachers I work with have had parents call them during class with trivial issues.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 29th, 2013
2:01 pm

Love the intro card for you — they know you care but just couldn’t physically make it — I think a great idea — I too am going to adapt what organizationally works best for my kids — we are going to get school supplies this afternoon and will organize how their minds work –

MomtoKTB

July 29th, 2013
2:38 pm

FCM – Thanks much – I’m sure I am referred to as “that Mom” behind my back but my job is to advocate for my kids and get them successful and independent by the time they graduate. :-)

We also do what works best for us organizationally – the school-mandated “agendas” are useless for ADHD & handwriting issues kids.

Happy School Year!

motherjanegoose

July 29th, 2013
3:25 pm

Several years, when my kids were in ES, I had them write a little paper about themselves:

My name
My favorite foods
My pets
My hobbies
My friends
What I like about school
What I do not like about school
What I did over the summer

I gave this paper to their teacher, at meet and greet. I introduced myself and smiled, ” Hope you have a great year. I am all about education and if you need me for anything, just let me know. Here are some things you may like to know about my child, your student. Thanks for all you do. ” I did not hijack the teacher. Having been hijacked myself, I was not keen on it. When things calmed down, they could read it…or not. I am pretty sure that conversation and the paper told their teacher much of what he/she might need to know.

Miss Priss!

July 29th, 2013
5:51 pm

It’s a woman thing. A real tacky, needy, woman thing.

Jeff

July 29th, 2013
7:57 pm

That’s just rude. I work in customer service so I am well aware that everyone thinks the world revolves around them. We need to start letting people know…It doesn’t!

Alexander

July 29th, 2013
10:13 pm

Some districts by policy disallow students and teacher to contact each other via social media. I think the same should be for parents as well. As an educator, I don’t want my students’ parents to personally reach out or post on my Facebook page. Plus, you want to set boundaries w/parent and their interactions with you outside of school because the moment you have to be objective and fail their son or daughter then they can end up being your worse enemy. Teachers, keep the PARENTS AND STUDENTS OFF YOUR FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA!! Create the boundaries early and if they need to reach you that’s why your districts have email and they even have social media, blogs for students, teachers and parents that are available.

tchrmom

August 1st, 2013
4:41 pm

Good grief! I didn’t mean to open a can of worms! Of course I know about my children who have IEPs, 504s, etc. I make it my business to know as much about these children as I can. Silly me…I assumed that would be common sense. I meant the parents who come in to tell you how smart their children are and what their strengths and weaknesses are before I’ve even had a chance to learn their names. I would never turn away a parent with a legitimate concern. Sorry for the confusion! Again, I have all of the paperwork on these children and usually know a lot about them before they step foot into my class. Our counselor and resource teachers are awesome at letting us know about these children before school starts.