Summit teacher uses social media for school, sports

But issues can arise when boundaries are crossed

Bend teacher uses social media for athletics, school

BEND, Ore. - Nearly 200 athletes come out for track at Summit High School each year, and keeping everyone on the same page could be a coach's nightmare.

"Having access to all the kids that quickly is a huge advantage," health teacher and head track coach Dave Turnbull said Monday.

 Turnbull has coached track for more than 20 years, but in the last two years, he has used social media to more quickly and easily coordinate his athletes.

"When I first started coaching, it would be calling home, trying to get a hold of people, just playing phone-tag back and forth, back and forth," he said. "Now it's immediate -- Facebook goes directly to their cell phones."

And social media also comes in handy for those without a classroom, like Julie Plummer, the advisor for Summit's speech and debate club.

"I found that the most effective way to get a hold of all of them is through Facebook." she said. "A lot of kids said, 'I never check my email, I just check my Facebook.'"

But students and teachers mixing online can be problematic, and rules about student-teacher relationships are still vague and undefined in many schools across the U.S.

"Keep in mind that 'friend' doesn't mean you're hanging out with them on Friday night," Turnbull said. "It just means they can access your page. It just comes back to being professional. Don't say anything on Facebook you wouldn't say in your classroom, and know that anything you say is public."

And besides staying professional, Turnbull sticks to one other rule.

"I don't request students," as friends, he said. "If a student signs up or requests me as a friend, then I automatically just allow that to happen."

Bend-La Pine Schools does not have any policies prohibiting student-teacher relationships online, but Turnbull said the school does serve as a resource to help keep teachers professional.

"They'll still advise us on correct and incorrect procedures," he said. "They want to make sure we're all being appropriate, and that's really important."

Facebook friends aside, both Turnbull and Plummer believe merging social media and school serve as valuable learning opportunities.

"I think the biggest thing is to also kind of, use this as teaching time for kids to see how you can use social media appropriately," Plummer said. "Because it is out there for the whole world to see.."

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