19th April 2013 at 01:00

The problem

I have had a spate of friend requests from students in Years 8 and 9 on Facebook. The first came from a student I'd had an issue with over a nose stud that she wouldn't remove. That evening she asked to be my friend. I then had a request from a student I teach who isn't a problem, followed by one from a Year 9 student whom I don't teach or even know. I've had two requests, simultaneously, from two students I do teach who are difficult. I mentioned the first three to the senior leadership team (SLT), but I'm not sure if any action was taken. Should I follow this up now? The students cannot see anything on my Facebook page and I am ignoring requests, but it's disconcerting. Am I over-reacting? Should I just ignore this and hope they go away?

What you said

It's not harassment - it's aggravating behaviour. They'll get bored soon and go away. You should report it to your SLT just in case they make a habit of annoying other staff andor students via Facebook. Obviously, don't say anything to the students concerned. Just make it look as if their silly-ass requests have vanished into the ether.


I would let the SLT know that it's becoming a "thing", but ignore it and it will soon stop. I believe you can only send a request once, so I wouldn't even bother taking the time to block them. If the children mention it, say that you are their teacher, not their friend, and it's against policy - but don't make it a conversation. You could call home and let their parents know what they are up to. From a concerned teacher's perspective rather than an irritated one, it's a safeguarding-type issue.


The expert view

Yes, ignore it and make no reference to it in class. Make sure your privacy settings are as tight as you can make them and that no one can see anything beyond what the great satans of Facebook give away. The students will give up soon enough if you do. But if they see that they have a weapon against you in their bedrooms and pockets, they will hunt you. It's disconcerting, but leave them hanging. Don't even reject them. Just leave them unanswered and it looks like you're never on Facebook anyway.

Tom Bennett's latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum.

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