We’ve always had a pretty strict rule for ourselves when it comes to being friends with current students on social media - NO.
For former students, however, we don’t have a problem with social media connections. In fact, as international teachers we started on Facebook to maintain connections with students that we were leaving when we decided to move to Thailand.
Today we have former students who have gone through many of major life’s milestones - marriages, jobs, deaths, births, etc. So far, no divorces that we can think of.
Frequently social media reminds us why teaching really is the best profession.
More times than we can count we’ve been left speechless in the classroom when a student has made some incredible intellectual leap. A connection, an inspired idea, a brand new insight about something - they happen all the time when you create the time to explore and analyze ideas. And we’re not just talking about those kids for whom everything is easy; we’re talking about pretty much all of them. When there’s time to talk and time to examine (and time to listen) amazing things happen.
It’s a true privilege to be witness to/part of the development of someone in that way. Most of our students figure out how much that means to us when they learn to hear us masking the cracking of our voices or when we suddenly turn our backs and face the window for a moment to hide our silly sentimentality.
But social media has allowed us the incredible opportunity to see that development continue long past the time our students have left the classroom. When you go online and you read the posts of:
- A former student arguing for a just society in the wake of a Trump presidency;
- Another doing field research in the Amazon;
- Someone confronting and dismantling racism;
- An advocate for (all) gender equality;
- Or a young parent doing everything possible to raise a child…
How can you not think teaching is the best profession there is?
[And though we sometimes have mixed feelings about social media, we wouldn’t be able to witness these things without it.]