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Top Talker: Worried About Teachers Texting Your Teen? Don’t Be


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Top Talker:
Worried About Teachers Texting Your Teen?
Don’t Be

You probably don’t feel very eager to have your teenager and his or her teacher texting each other beyond informational things like finding out when homework is due or cancelling volleyball practice. You really don’t want it happening after you hear stories like this one about the Maryland father who struck his 15-year-old daughter’s teacher with a baseball bat because the teacher was exchanging texts with her that indicated an emotional relationship.

But parents can probably relax a little about the teacher-student texting because research suggests that the issue isn’t black-and-white. As this Time article points out, there should be safeguards in place, but the back-and-forth between teachers and students can create bonds.

“Teachers are the first to spot trouble for kids who are at risk—kids with mental health issues, sexuality issues, problems at home,” says Danah Boyd, whose book, It’s Complicated, examines the social lives of networked teens. “These are kids who need more positive adult relationships, not less.”

Mica Pollock, an education professor at the University of California, San Diego, and Uche Amaechi, a doctoral candidate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education found in a study published last year that texting “increased personalized student support by enabling, then strengthening, teacher-student relationships.” Pollock says, “There is a lot of anxiety on all sides about the appropriate way to interact. But there is no teaching without teacher-student bonds, so the question is how do we form those bonds safely and effectively.”

Related: Mediocre Mom Manual: WTH? I Have A Texting Teen!

We talked a little bit about a related subject just two months ago. The question was, should teachers and students be Facebook friends? My position on it is that students and teachers can be Facebook friends, particularly if the teacher has a non-personal account or sets up a group for her class that can be accessed by students and their parents.

I would have said that texting is a different thing altogether before reading about the research. Texting feels more personal to me—more one-on-one—and it’s an entity that lends itself to hiding what you’re doing. But, “Kids use text the way we use email,” says Amaechi. “We have built the rules and polices around the technologies that adults use most—and not what kids use.” After considering the points in the Time article, I understand that I look at texting one way and teenagers simply see it as a way to communicate quickly and effectively.

In the above-mentioned research, the teachers in the texting pilot used technology like Google Voice that allowed them to use non-personal phone numbers and enabled texting over the computer on school accounts. That’s a great step that simultaneously provides transparency and privacy.

It would be reasonable to meet students where they are and come up with policies that allow them to build positive relationships with their teacher. I would not want to text students all the time, but I can definitely see how that kind of interaction between teacher and student has academic, social, and emotional benefits, especially for at-risk students.

Related: Ask Rene: Home Alone…. How Young Is Too Young?

What do you think? Would you still be wary of teachers and students texting each other? Share your thoughts below.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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