Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and Four Square check-ins. Social media has made it so accessible to keep in touch with the world around us. Sharing pictures, celebrations, special events and other moments of our lives with friends and family has never been easier. Dance studios too have joined the social networking world, posting performance pictures, tweeting class information, and checking in at competitions and events. Dancers are able to access their studio’s page anywhere and anytime.
There starts to be a dilemma for teachers, when students want to friend or be friends with their personal pages. I know, as dance instructors, we want to be close to our students. We want to share our wisdom and experiences with them and help them reach their potential both as a dancer and as an individual…but doing this over social media poses such a liability to you and your studio, it is not worth the risk. A simple comment, post, or picture could be taken incorrectly and quickly create immeasurable drama and grief to your studio. Realistically, do your dancers REALLY need to know what restaurant you ate at last weekend or where you went on your last date night?
Along these same lines, communication with your students, outside of the studio setting, should still be done the old fashioned way, through the parents. Parents are your student’s chauffeur, schedule maker, and financier. They are the ones you should be communicating with, not their 12 year old child. Again, which would you rather deal with, the drama of a student misinterpreting an email, text or post versus a phone call to the parents.
So, where do we teachers draw the line?
Personally, I do not friend any student under the age of 18. It is a very simple but direct rule that my students easily understand. If I get a friend request from one of my younger dancers, I tell them how great it is to hear from them, gently decline their request, and then let them know we can be social media friends when they are 18. By that age, hopefully your students have matured and grown and any personal information on your page will not be misconstrued or blown out of proportion.
I believe a piece of professionalism is lost when too much personal information is shared. As teachers, we need to maintain integrity, respectability, and authority to our students and to our passion and profession; teaching dance.
Teachers, does your studio have a protocol regarding social media interaction between you and your students? Please share.
Until then, teach, inspire, and grow.