By Megan Cohen
Social media has always been a popular topic of discussion: how it’s advanced communication more than ever, the effect it can have on your college application, and every other pro and con imaginable. Over the past few years, Twitter, with over 284 million active users, has become one of the most popular social networks. Like almost everything else in the digital world, it has managed to form connections between all sorts of people. Now it’s gone even further and bridged the gap between teachers and students.
“It’s much easier to talk to my students through Twitter than through e-mail,” says Dr. Kagan, one of Tuscarora’s science teachers. “They’ll either give me the wrong address or they won’t respond to my messages, so I can just go on Twitter and tell them what assignments they missed.”
These kind of interactions were once deemed inappropriate, and the land of social media was thought to be a place where teachers and students could co-exist but could not overlap. “[Teachers] used to be told all the time that they should never communicate with students through social media,” said Mrs. Cupps, from the English department. “But nowadays it’s happening quite often and it no longer seems to be a problem. But I just stick to using Remind.”
Remind101, now known simply as Remind, is a solution to the original conundrum teachers faced when trying to keep in touch with students. Advertised as a safe way to connect with students, Remind allows teachers to send out “blasts” to whoever has signed up to receive their messages, either in the form of a text or an email. No inappropriate exchange of phone numbers is required.
But some are starting to favor Twitter over this once-innovative program, like Mrs. DeHoux, a French teacher. “Most of my students just seem to ignore the Remind messages I send out, but they’re on Twitter all the time! So it’s much more effective for me to just tweet them what assignments they’re missing or what tests are coming up,” she said. DeHoux, of course, doesn’t exclude her non-tweeting students, and still sends messages via Remind.
So far, this method of teaching has been virtually harmless. Some students, however, are still skeptical of crossing the line between students and teachers on social media. “I definitely think there’s a social barrier when it comes to the internet,” said Lucas Striegel, sophomore. “Teachers using Twitter to talk to their students just doesn’t seem appropriate to me.”
Junior Grace Wehmann shares similar views, stating, “I’d feel kind of weird if a teacher came up to me and was like, ‘Hey, I saw your tweet.’ I guess I just don’t like the idea that they could start scrolling through and reading everything.” However, Wehmann also sees the benefits of this new form of teacher-student communication. “If someone is going through a difficult time and they need help, or some kind of cyber-bullying is going on, then it would be pretty useful.”
Teachers all over the country have become Twitter-friendly, and are slowly becoming the new normal. Even The National Education Association published an article entitled “Can Tweeting Help Your Teaching?” Additionally, TeachHUB and other sites created as teaching resources have posted tips for using Twitter in the classroom, indicating that the social-media barrier is starting to dissolve.
“Twitter has made things so much easier for me,” said DeHoux. “If I find something that I think will benefit or interest my upper-level students, I can share it with them. I also sponsor the yoga and meditation club, so I can tweet reminders of the next session. I think this is truly the best way to communicate with my students.”