I’ve spent more than my fair share of time here, railing against Facebook on many levels: privacy enfringement, ownership of content, use by kids under 13, and just the fact that it is shifting people from an open platform (the web) into yet another closed garden (hello, AOL). And I have tried to remain true to my convictions: I’m one of the few in all of my circles of friends with no turf on Facebook.
But this weekend, I find myself wishing I was on Facebook.
The reason? One of my students has been seriously injured in a bicycle/car accident, and he is in serious condition in the hospital. While our sixth grade teaching team has been in contact with the family, I wonder how the rest of my students are doing, and I know (from past experiences) that they are likely talking and processing the accident on their networking space. For the first time, I wish I were on Facebook so I could help them with that process and keep track of how they are all doing on this extra-long weekend, and be part of their discussions as a steadying force.
I acknowledge that the thing that Facebook does well is connect people together, particularly around tragedy. It offers its users a chance to grieve and connect, and get support. Whether it be a huge event, like the aftermath of a storm, or a smaller event, like a bicycle accident (which, of course, does not seem small to us), the space has its value, and I find myself wishing not only were I on Facebook but that I were friends with each and every one of my students.
As it is, tomorrow will be difficult as we head back to school. We’ll have our Crisis Emergency Team ready early in the morning for students and staff that need time and space to deal with the accident, and we will be talking a lot about how to stay positive for our student and how to try to make sense of unexpected tragedies that befall our lives. Most of all, we’ll be together as a school community — as a sixth grade community — and I will be there with them and for them, as I am sure their parents have been there for them all weekend.
What I wonder is: have they been there for each other on Facebook this weekend, too? I can almost guess the answer: yes.
Peace (and prayers for my student),
Praying for your student. So unbelievably hard.
Your student, his peers, and you are all in my prayers. (@Philip_Cummings)
My prayers are with you and your students. You know I am big on Facebook, but never with my students. There is just that line that blurs from classroom to real world that somehow can’t and in my mind at their ages should not be crossed. I am their teacher, their mentor and role model, but not in the very real sense their Facebook friend.
You have a classroom blog if I recall, and my advice would be to find a link into that Facebook world and put a link to your Edmodo account or your classroom site.
But even if you are not part of that discussion today, you will be there tomorrow, the next day, and the days following. Nothing as you and I both know, replaces the real face to face discussions, the tears, and the hugs that bring a community together. Technology brings my prayers and thoughts to you, but it won’t let me bring you a cup of coffee in the morning tomorrow as you get ready to be present for those kids who need you so very much.
So think of this as my hugs and prayers and a cyber cup of coffee. Know your kids are taking care of each other because you have modeled that community for them and now they run it on their own.
Please keep the cyber world updated.
With love and concern,
I’m sorry about your student, Kevin. Here at the end of the year, it should be a fun time, but it’s also good that you will be able to talk together instead of it happening after school was out. You and the student and the class are in my thoughts.
Sorry to hear the bad news. It is always very upsetting to know one of your students is badly injured and all the others needing comfort too, and to be just out of reach.
May when you get together you will be able to draw comfort from each other.
I’ll be thinking about you and your school community today and of course the boy and his family. What a horrible event to take on.
Good hanging out with you last night