26 March, 2014

Christianity is a poor excuse for homophobia

My FB feed has been going 'ping' a bit recently on the subject of homosexuality in the Christian Church. Things like the recent decision by World Vision in the US to accept Gay Marriage, when hiring people in US states where Gay Marriage is recognised (and the resulting evangelical backlash of "if you employ the gays, then we won't feed the world's poor because we think that is what Jesus wants") and the recent death of Fred Phelps have got all sorts of Church, non-Church, ex-church and un-church folk musing on the topic. The trouble I am having is that there is a lack of rational thinking in the debate. Well, no thinking nor love or compassion from so many of my fellow pew dwellers (like the evangelicals who think Jesus would rather poor kids starve than a Christian have to work with a homosexual). So, I thought I would add my own views on the topic to my own little corner of the web as my own attempt to shout into the void that not everyone who still gets up on a Sunday morning is so completely homophobic, nor so completely literal that we believe the bible can be understood by reading it once in English (or, by having it read to you by some guy in a white suit on the telly box).

The words I am about to paste into this post are the words I was invited to say from the pulpit of my local Anglican Church for a conversation on the Church's response to Gay Marriage...



The question for Christians has to come down to the simplest command of Jesus. Love one another as I have loved you. And to me, the simple denial of equality on the basis of sexuality is failing to show love. Some people may say that 'we love the sinner but hate the sin'. Quite a popular phrase in this discussion. I don’t believe we can do that very well and certainly I can see that a lot of what Christians think of as hating the sin is seen just as hate. If we are seen as hateful, how do we show Jesus to the world?

But, I want to look at the verses some Christians use to condemn homosexuality.
Firstly the story of Sodom (Genisis 19:1-3). There is nothing in this story which comes close to being about gay marriage. It is a story of the breaking of hospitality laws and the use of rape as a tool of dominance. The same is true of the story in Judges 19, the point of the story is not that the house-guest was wanting to get out and enjoy the night life of the city.
Plus, on a personal note, I would ask. Are you going to take your moral bearings from a story where the ‘correct’ thing to do was to send out your virgin daughters to be raped by a mob? Why is this verse being used as evidence of homosexuality? If the mob were homosexual the daughters and concubines would have been perfectly safe, no this is a morality tale about power and dominance.

The (possibly, but not really) clearer verses are Leviticus 18:21-22, Leviticus 20:13. However, the first refers to child sacrifices to Molech and the homosexuality mentioned may be part of the same idolatrous pagan worship. The section in verse 20 also begins as a discussion of idolatrous behaviour. Plus, it is part of a long list and if we want to keep this part of the old testament law, can we choose just this verse or do we need to keep the whole chapter (or the whole book). Because we allow people who curse their parents to marry, but it is on the same list. We do not, as a church, condemn sexual activity during menses, yet there it is on the same list.

Remember, our bible is not the Old testament list of rules, the law has been set aside for it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God (Hebrews 7). It is the much, much harder call to fulfil the whole law by loving your neighbour as yourself. It is a call to love and relationship with God and we do not bring anyone into a relationship with God by imposing our favourite of the Old Testament laws on them and claiming it is love. 

So, onto the new testament...
Romans 1:26 Is not a prohibition against homosexuality but a warning about what will happen to you if you exchange God for idolatry (verse23-24). It may well refer to sexual acts as a part of worship in some pagan temples.
The word that is presently translated as homosexual in the new testament (in 1 Corinthians 6 & 1 Timothy 1) is arsenokoites. But this is a very recent (1946) translation of the word and is by no means a clear one. Paul’s use of the word arsenokoites is the first recorded use and he does not define it. In fact, in all of classical literature there are fewer than 80 uses of the word. The word literally means ‘Man Bed’ and during the reformation because the word was man and not men, scholars translated it as masturbators. While to our modern ears, man bed may seem obvious, the Greeks already had a word for two men having intercourse (androkoites) so one must wonder why Paul felt the need to coin a new word if that was what he wanted to say.

Some people suggest that Paul was talking about shrine prostitution or about sexual relationships between a teacher and pupil (certainly, until recently pederast is how the 1 Corinthians verse was translated).  Others suggest that (like the old testament verses I mentioned earlier) it refers to the use of sexual domination as a way of showing superiority and power. Perhaps a master and his slave, or to update the verse somewhat in light of the current Royal Commission a priest and a congregant?

So, am I saying that Paul wasn’t talking about homosexuality? I doubt he was, but I can’t be sure. However what I am sure of is that Jesus' message can be condensed into whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12). So I feel no need to invent reasons to discriminate against people or deny them the same rights I have, nor do I feel the need to bring back the old testament strictures, otherwise I am guilty of crimes enough to see me stoned to death every few days for the rest of time.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

29 August, 2013

I plan, you plan, we all plan for NAPLAN part II



And, a closer inspection of my coursework tells me all my earlier fears have been realised. I am pointed towards the maths NAPLAN too…
Well, I did manage an advanced B in year 10 and then passed accountancy for my (as yet incomplete) Masters in Management. So year 7 should be a doddle, right?

Well, to a degree yes. Like my rant on the language test, my own way of approaching things is a bit off kilter. In the case of Maths, I am a whiz kid for special reasoning (what is the next shaded nonagon in the series, which side of the cube will be opposite side ‘c’) and I am more than capable of working out how to calculate most any equation short of the introduction of Greek letters, so the calculator section is fine. What kills me is a processing inability, I am incapable of holding numbers in my head for more than an instant and I am (genetically? physiologically?) incapable of learning my times tables. This leaves me in a very difficult place for the calculator free test, counting on your fingers may be frowned upon for a year 7 student. It is certainly frowned upon when you are standing in front of a year 10 geography class teaching them how to manage the statistics and graphing data they need for their fieldwork report.

Really, like my earlier post, this one is just going to suggest that it is important that I (and you, dear reader) ensure that we don’t assume that a lack of ability in one area (or several) points to a generic lack of ability or the presence of stupidity. Like the ‘Idiot Savant’ (an evocative, if somewhat inaccurate term) I would posit the existence of the ‘Savant Idiot’. Savant idiots are those of us who despite our obvious intellect across most fields of endeavour, manage to have an area (or two) where our failures are spectacular and no amount of effort seems able to displace our natural deficit.

I plan, you plan, we all plan for NAPLAN


Have I mentioned I am doing a Dip Ed? (or a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning as it is now more grandiosely known). Well, I am. Not because I have been brow beaten by those who 2 or 3 years ago were berating librarians for stealing the jobs of teacher librarians or because I have to. Well, the why is a whole other post so I will ignore it for now. The point today is that I was asked to "Go to the NAPLAN website and complete the year 7 Language Conventions test.  What did you learn about your level of literacy?  How did you feel doing this test? How might your awareness of this test affect how you teach and what you look for in students' work?"

What follows is my answer and I thought it rather 'blogworthy'

Year 7 language conventions? Ha! I’m sorted with this one. Now, if you’d been asking me to do a NAPLAN on year 7 maths I would have had to fire up a few neurons which haven’t been used as much of late (see post 2 ed.).
I’m going to make a few tangential remarks on this one.
Firstly if I was your student and you were given my special needs documentation you would see that I am an ADHD kid whose language scores are rock bottom and whose maths scores are sky high (at least as far as the aptitude testing reports it). Yet in the classroom (and the subsequent ‘real world’) you would see that maths bores me while literature excites me. You would also as a teacher come to realise that part of the reason for this is that, while I know the conventions of language, I do not always choose to use them. But, add to this the fact that I am manifestly incapable of spelling.
As a school student, this was the bane of my existence. Picture a poor, put upon, year 4 boy whose face falls when it is time for the school-wide reading programme. Hates reading? Mmm, he won’t be alone there. No, in fact he loves reading, but at the start of year 4 has progressed well beyond the reading programme which is still engaging every other student in the school. So the school-wide programme becomes ‘school -1’ and this boy is instead sent to sit out on the front step (where he won’t disturb others) and to work on a remedial spelling programme. A remedial programme which fails utterly, perhaps because it is as dull as dishwater, perhaps because the student doesn’t care to spell, perhaps because the programme doesn’t address why he can’t spell? 
Whatever the reason I (who will stop referring to myself in the 3rd person now, as that is the behaviour of egotistical sportstars in post-match interviews)…
I keep on progressing through school without any marked improvement on spelling. Content that I am able to make myself understood but caring more about the idea I am caught in, than about the niceties of making it pretty to the eyes of society. As luck would have it though, I was born at a point where this would not cause me any issues at all. At the same time I hit the job-market and the university, technology gives me the spellcheck. At first this just allows me to fix things at the end, but with the introduction of the wiggly red line something changes. This line, in my peripheral vision, somehow shortcuts its way into my subconscious and over the period of a few years I found myself repeating my errors less. Words, which were once a mystery to me (like those with a proliferation of Cs, Ss or double Ss followed by a single C…) suddenly work.
Am I making a point here?
I hope so.


Standardised testing is a very good form of data gathering, but not on the micro level. Mmm, perhaps not on the macro either. Umm, somewhere in the middle is a sweet spot where the data is good. But if you use these tests to tell a kid language is not his thing, you might not be looking at the totality of the kid.
How does this affect my teaching? I am liable to take an English class and say “you are writing poetry, don’t interrupt your flow of ideas in order to make sure you are spelling things right”. I might be tempted to tell a history student that I will NOT be marking spelling in her essay (how many marks did I lose over the years because my ability to spell did not match my knowledge of Greek Mythology?). Will I therefore ignore spelling? I don’t think so, my students need to know how to make themselves understood. But I will not let a student’s lack of spelling make them believe they are not good at writing or at history nor will I make them recalcitrant to use unaccustomed words because the mundane ones are safe. I will also work to find the right tool for the student. This will mean doing things like: turning off the autocorrect so they need to look at a word before the computer fixes it; making sure the language settings on their computers are set on British English not US English; showing them how GOOGLE will suggest ways to spell a word if their own computer is stumped; I will give them thesauruses so that they can find exciting alternatives whose spelling makes sense to them; and I will make sure they know that there is always a way to get around whatever the test tells them, that they decide their destination not some computer-read piece of A4 that they need to mark with a 2B pencil.

19 July, 2013

The death of compassion.

An awful day in Australian Political Life has lead me to re-pen our national anthem.

Australians all let us beware,
For we are girt by sea;
We've golden soil and wealth you’d spoil;
We are with-out sympathy;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
The K Rudd Labor 'Australian' flag for 2013
Of beauty we won’t share;
In history's page, let every stage
Australia Don’t Go There.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Australia Don’t Go There.

Beneath our tattooed Southern Cross
We'll toil with heads and hands;
To keep this Commonwealth of ours
Locked off from all the lands;
For those who'd come across the seas
We've boundless plains to keep;
With courage let us all combine
To make them just for sheep.
In joyful strains then let us see
you, piss off to PNG.

I guess it is only a matter of time before we change our flag. I have been quite fond of that idea for some time, so I present to you a new flag to go with our new Anthem and new policy on refugees.

05 December, 2012

Dundee cake - a Christmas post

In my first concession to the currant (yes, pun intended) festive season I baked a nice fruitcake on the weekend. It was a recipe I cobbled together from several which didn't strike me as quite right, so having been successful I thought I'd share it with you by way of a Festivus gift. Bake one and give it to your school's librarian.

Ingredients:

175g butter
175g soft dark-brown sugar
4 tbsp orange (or lime) marmalade
3 or 4 eggs,
225g self-raising flour
40g almond meal (more if you like that marzipanesque flavour)
2 tsp ground mixed spice
200g currants
200g raisins
75g glacé cherries, halved
4 or 5 tbsp whisky (I used 50:50 of Glenfiddich and Jim Beam)
80g blanched almonds to decorate
1 tsp caster sugar, to sprinkle over the top

Preparation method:
  1. Soak currants and raisins in whisky for at least an hour.
    Have a nip yourself while you wait.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a 20cm loose-based deep cake tin with kitchen paper.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a food processor for 3-4 minutes (until light and fluffy).
  4. Add the marmalade and the eggs, beating well after each egg.
  5. Add the flour, almonds and spices to the batter. Mix slowly until well combined, then stir in the dried fruits.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, smooth the surface and arrange the blanched almonds in some sort of fancy pattern on top.
  7. Bake for 2 hours*, or until well risen, firm and golden-brown. (use the skewer test to ensure it is cooked)
  8. Let it cool a little in the tin before turning onto a rack. Sprinkle with sugar and eat with gusto.

*cake took a little over 2 hours in our dodgy oven.

01 August, 2012

Teacher Librarians, Luddites in musty book museums

At the risk of being repetitive...

Teacher Librarian Advocacy is useless, there is no way anyone in government could possibly justify throwing good money after bad by propping up this outdated profession. Why would I say such a thing? Lets take as an example the members of our profession, not the best and brightest (every profession, trade and vocation has superb practitioners) for they are not examples of the whole. No, lets examine the general 'body behind the circ desk' if you will. This person is a moron, trapped behind outdated technology (bitching and moaning about the death of the roneo file) and wishing for the good old days when the library was quiet (wood panelled and probably lit by gas lamps).

Lets think back over the last few months about all the hard work people (many of them on this list) have been putting in. Telling the NSW state government that school principals should NOT be able to take TL money and use it to pay a mere tech specialist. Using the best practice examples of our members to demonstrate all that should (and could) be. How a library can lift a whole school and the TL can drive test scores up, participation up and so much more besides.

Now imagine that Barry O'Farrell (persuaded by this impassioned plea) decided that today was the day he would investigate further. Today he would visit our newsgroup and make sure he was fully up to speed on the issue.

He'd not only allow principals to fire their TLs he'd damn well make it compulsory. And he'd possibly bulldoze all the libraries and sow the ground with salt into the bargain. Then (if he had any sense) he would have us all neutered in order to ensure we didn't reproduce.

Now, I know I have moaned about this sort of thing on here before (and before that). But I can not believe what I have been reading here the last couple of days. How can anyone expect to convince people that our profession should be allowed to be responsible for teaching students to navigate the digital world when it would seem the average member of our profession thinks 'the cloud' is something to yell at. How can anyone tell me that teacher librarians have a role to play in digital citizenship and helping young people navigate the complexity of social media when we as a group are completely unable to deal with a WONDERFUL and SEAMLESS transfer of our discussion list to an updated platform?

Oh, and putting the snark aside for a moment. Thanks to all involved for the upgrade.

So, where was I? Oh yes, people getting their knickers in a bunch about the 'new'. The 'new' is what we do folks. We should not sound like a group of 13 year old girls who have just found out that Facebook has done a redesign. "I liked it better before" This is not the voice I expect from major stakeholders in the knowledge economy.

Don't like it? Don't want to be on the list any more? Then UNSUBSCRIBE YOURSELF! Stop asking the rest of us to do it for you.
Want to complain that there are too many emails? Complain to your spouse or psychiatrist because the reason there are too many emails is because you keep emailing the whole list to complain there are too many emails. I don't care! I can't do anything about it, I am just a member of the list myself. The wonderful free and informative list, which no one forced to to join and, no one is stopping you from leaving.
But please, for the love of all that is sane, shut up and let this list go back to discussing the things that allow me to do my job with a bit more flair than I would if not for this amazing brains trust. Discussions about Olympic copyright, the best picture books, readers advisory methodologies, new books for the national curriculum and even clickview requests (if you must).

Want to complain about the upgrade? Go right ahead. As I librarian I found the link for you http://oztlnet.com/contact-us/ (just like I found the unsubscribe link up above).

Is there some OZTL protocol that says I am not allowed to take the email addresses of the next 5 people who mindlessly ask to be unsubscribed and send them to all the Nigerian scammers whose messages reside in my SPAM folder?
I mean, I know it is unethical, but is it specifically banned? Because at this point in time that seems like perfectly rational behaviour.

02 June, 2012

Wait, how many days in June?

Did I suggest yesterday that I might try to blog EVERY day in June?
Damn!
Here it is, 15 minutes of the 2nd left, I'm about to go to bed after getting home from the rugby club (yes, we won). I have some Uni work which is probably more vital than this and I am sleepy.
Anyone thinking about joining me in Blog every OTHER day in June?

01 June, 2012

Are we selling buggy whips?

I am not in NSW these days, and when I was I wasn't a school librarian, so this post has the caveat that I possibly don't know what the hell I am talking about. Still, when has that ever stopped me having an opinion?

At the moment when I read the emails that fly around the teacher-librarian world, there is a lot of chatter about the current setup in NSW where the government is moving towards letting school principals have the power to hire and fire. I believe it is being tagged "local schools, local decisions". I am listening to a lot of people who are very upset by this because they believe that this power is putting teacher-librarians and school libraries at risk.
So to that end we are seeing letters to the editor and interviews on the tabloid TV programmes.

My question is, is this advocacy the right tack for this situation? I am happily ensconced in the library of a Catholic school and as such there is no requirement for a librarian. In fact for a lot of time there wasn't one, however the previous principal decided that a neglected library was no good at all and the current one has continued to listen to my cries for more space and more money, so in the space of two an a half school years this library has been transformed.

Why do my NSW public school colleagues not feel that 'local decisions' are likely to free up funds to rebuild their libraries? Why is it an instant fear that the result will instead be giving them the boot and ploughing their stupid outdated old books into the ground as landfill and using the free space to buy a metric arseload of ipads?

There are all sorts of stats to be quoted, the decline in teacher librarian numbers in Victoria under the Kennett government. One paper I read mentions that only 8.6% of NT schools have a teacher librarian. But then, given that there are a lot of very small schools in the NT I am not sure this stat means much. Furthermore, given that in my experience in Darwin and Alice there are a lot of schools which would love a teacher librarian but have been unable to get one, this does not demonstrate any unwillingness on the part of principals. Additionally, there are some remote locations which have joint use libraries staffed and supported by the NT Library, so no teacher-librarians but still well resourced libraries. So, if the NT stats in these papers are representative of how useful the other figures are I would suggest that there is a bit of a problem with what the data is claimed to prove.

That leads me to my post title "Are we selling buggy whips". It is a tired old analogy online but I am now wondering why so many principals are just looking for an opening to toss teacher librarians into the dustbin. I have blogged earlier about the continued episodes on the teacher librarian e-list where members are unable to work out how to unsubscribe. If this is in any way indicative of a percentage of teacher-librarians I can imagine that a principal might be more than happy to give em the ol' heave ho and replace them with someone who is aware of which century this is.

My thought would be, that a better use of our time would be to make sure that all those who wear the badge of teacher librarian are capable of garnering the respect of their principals. Once that is the case, I suspect that principals will see the value in their continued employment. But until that is the case, I suspect no amount of lobbying is going to improve the perception that some of us are frantically hanging onto our buggy whips and demanding some sort of government mandated whip quota.

(this post was whipped of in too little time to think it through properly but because I just realised it was June and I am thinking I might try the blog every day of June thing so missing day 1 would be a bad start).

23 April, 2012

You have exceeded the space for this text box. Some data will be lost.

Or, so I was told by ACER (the Australian Council for Educational Research) when I tried to answer one of their surveys. How can you have an "any additional information you would like to add" box which fits only a paragraph? What if I wish to send you my manifesto? Well....
I have written about it before (I am sure) but here is my latest think on internet safety and security in schools. ACER, you could have had the whole lot if you wanted it. Instead I give it to the world (well, that tiny fraction of the world who will read my blog anyway).


Filtering software gives a false sense of security to school staff, leading to teachers believing they have no role to play in ensuring students are appropriate in their net use. Additionally, legitimate sites are often caught up in the filtering net (ie, a filter which blocks facebook can also block cyber safety sites which reference facebook or newspapers who use a facebook plugin to manage comments). Likewise, the common ban on youtube prevents teachers using a myriad of relevant content and leads to situations where tech-savvy teachers are bypassing set terms of service and copyright restrictions in order to be able to access the most useful resources for their classes.
Cyber bullying is also treated in an disjointed manner as if it is somehow disconnected from bullying in the schoolyard. Responses are also driven by paranoia rather than in a rational, considered way. As such social networks are banned meaning that responsible use can be neither taught nor modelled. A ban on facebook due to cyberbullying is like digging up the football field due to a lunch time fight, yet too often this overreaction is not questioned. Additionally, some schools seem to be taking on an online policing role and assuming responsibility for things which happen out of school hours. This sort of thing oversteps the mark in terms of a schools duty of care and of their sphere of influence. In the same way that a school is not responsible for a fight on a football field on a Saturday morning, nor should they be accepting any responsibility for a Skype chat between 2 students at 7pm on their own computers. While there may be a role in ensuring these students are able to deal with each other the following school day, this should not be by way of playing web detective.
Likewise, bans that exist in some jurisdictions, prohibiting facebook contact between students and teachers, only serve to prevent teachers using new media as a teaching and learning tool. Why this should be prohibited but contact by email (or other social media) is not only permissible but often encouraged is bizarre. Teachers should certainly be aware of their own digital footprint and what information students can find out about them but a blanket ban prevents teachers demonstrating good online citizenship to their classes.
The paranoid manner stranger danger online is spoken about, leads to unwarranted fear amongst some children. A sane view of the facts would demonstrate that (as has always been the case) it is not strangers that our children need to fear. Rather, most abuse is suffered at the hands of those who they know and who should be looking after them.
Any discussion with students on the dangers of abuse, bullying or stalking should not separate the digital world from the rest of the world and act like there is not a solid connection between the two. However, too often this is the way these issues are managed. One cannot be raped nor murdered on facebook. If a student accepts an invitation to meet someone they have met online, this is not a cyber issue it is a real world issue. In Australia this has happened (to the best of my knowledge) once and that did not involve facebook, myspace or any popular platform but on a chat room for people who believe they are vampires. With this in mind the paranoid push to cybersafety is barking up the wrong tree. We would be better focusing our attention on mundane cyber issues such as password security and the potential future damage drunken facebook photos could have on your career (if you don’t learn how to use the privacy controls).

12 April, 2012

Three blind mice, 1 blind society

This question came to me over the interwebs...
I had a question from one of my staff this morning, she was told (by a parent during storytime) that she was not allowed to sing 3 blind mice with the children any more as it was not politically correct to say 'blind' and it was also wrong to scare children with threats of a carving knife. I have not heard of this before and was wondering if it is indeed true. She was also told not to sing Baa Baa Black sheep because of the word 'black'...
I love it when these sort of things come up. And by love I mean get exasperated beyond belief.

I have always used the gruesome versions of stories and had a lot of fun with them. So my red riding hood puppet shows had grandma eaten by the wolf and the wolf in turn killed by an axe-wielding woodsman. That said, I was not always a traditionalist. My Goldilocks often ended with Goldie doing a five year stretch in Long Bay for break and enter (yes, I did read a bit of Dahl when I was younger, why do you ask?).

I would encourage people to do the same because if we all refuse to bow down before idiots then they are less likely to think they are in charge of the world.

To answer this particular case;

It is not politically incorrect to say blind. You can check with the Royal Society for the Blind if you are in doubt. All the blind people I have known have been well aware they are blind and don't need to be protected from this 'awful truth'. Plus, despite their lack of vision, none of them were ever confused about their humanity. They were well aware they were not mice. Yes, the song does not threaten children with knives (again, unless the child has some specific body dysmorphia and believes they are a mouse).

As for the added insanity of a black sheep being a racist issue...

The stupidity it burns.

Black sheep were unwanted because their wool could not be dyed. The expression has no racist connections at all (unless we choose to invent some of our own now). I believe (although I can't find the evidence right now) that this is a case of parody being reinvented as reality. It was one of those stupid ultra right wing chain emails bemoaning a ban on the rhyme which had in fact never happened. But somewhere along the lines people started to believe it and now you actually have morons who are too scared to use the rhyme.

My advice would be, keep singing it and if anyone complains ridicule them remorselessly. If we all manage to do this perhaps (being as we work with children) we may have a hand in making sure that this stupid lack of critical thinking is not passed onto the next generation?

16 March, 2012

A teacher librarian social conversation


OZTL was having a nice chat about Social Media the other day and, as I often find, there were some nicely hidebound folk who were happy to shout out about why we shouldn't. (oh, and sic. In fact, fully sic).
Teachers "befriending" students on-line is a bumpy road leading to a crash. A treacher should be friendly and approachable but never friends or approached. This has always been the case, no matter what the method of cxommunication. "Social Networking" still contains the word "Social"...
or
...I personally have reservations about invading students' personal and
social spaces. It has always smacked of the business or marketing push
that is prevalent in education today - ie get at them 24/7 in as many
spaces/ways as you can...
and
...ensure that any communications with students outside the school environment must be totally open and observed. Was it not Caesar who said,"Caersar's wife must not only be fault, she must be seen to be without fault."...

So I wrote a reply (less snarky than some I send to the list, but really guys. I snark because I love). Following my reply I got...
Love your recent post on OZ_TL net on social media policy. If it was a blog post I could share it with my students...
Oh, you could? Well, I am nothing if not a servant of the people. So here it is.

Social media is a tool being used by the current generation of students. They will talk homework (amongst other things) online of an evening. It seems to me therefore that there are many benefits to teachers (and librarians) being linked in to this network.
Certainly when I was a uni librarian I didn't mind being friends with students and I would occasionally have a question pop up of an evening when I was online (sometimes I would ignore it, hell it was my time, other times I would take the moment to pass on an appropriate link or a research suggestion).

In a school, yes there is the possibility that things might get a bit fraught. But, how can we promote the idea of responsible digital citizenship if we isolate ourselves from that world? So...
where you are not prevented by rules and regulations from doing so, I would say...
go for it! Be a fb friend, but... keep your personal and professional separate. Lock down your personal page so students can not see you sleeping face down in your own vomit during uni O-Week (not a hard task). Then, create a 'fan' style page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
A fan style page, will let you connect online with your students while creating a level of buffer between you and their full online life.

There are several ways you could do this. Market yourself as a public figure or perhaps create a page for each class (or year) so you link your students together. That way they can (if they wish) do some of their after school "what were we doing with the French verbs" discussions in this public space. That allows you to watch (and spot the areas where you are not giving adequate instruction. Well, if none of the kids knew what you meant, whose fault is it?). It also allows you to pop in and redirect the discussion a bit (if you, like me are online much too often and have a surfeit of opinions).

Being online and visible should also make it easier for a school to monitor the "St Mujer Barbuda Preparitory Scool Sux" or "Ms Pfaffernaff is the wurst english teacher ever" groups which may spring up from time to time. It could make students less likely to create those groups (fb is suddenly somewhere there may be teachers) and it certainly makes it more likely students may let you know such groups exist.

For those of you who feel facebook is automatically 'fraught' let me ask you to imagine being a teacher in a country town. Population, mmm, lets say 1300 people. In this environment, do we expect the teacher to avoid social interaction with students? No, we don't, we accept (often hope) that the teacher will be playing on the same football team as the older year 12 boys. We know that the teachers will see the students out and about, attend the same churches and sometimes the same dinners. Down at the pub, the teachers will be drinking in the front bar, while the students are playing pool in the back bar and from time to time, they may even talk to each other. To some degree, fb is forcing us all to move into a modern version of that country town.

For centuries, teachers and students have managed to live like this, it is really a very recent thing to have teachers and students living completely apart other than during the school day (and, to my mind, it is a bit of a symptom of a modernist malaise). As a student, I am glad I grew up in a town where I saw my teachers down the pub of an evening (and sometimes for a counter lunch). I am glad I was friends with their kids (and went to parties in their houses). Now I work in a school, I am glad that when I am at rugby training there are kids from my school training with our juniors. I am not exactly glad, but in a strange way thankful for the rugby game when I kicked our school captain in the face (he was diving for the ball as I was trying to kick it). Not just because I kicked the opposition halfback in the face, but because it was an amusing way to meet his father. Only recently I attended the funeral of that same father, a sad occasion but I was one of about 15 current and former staff there all of whom would tell you that it is possible to be a friend without degrading the student/teacher relationship.

An online relationship is not even a small percentage of the interaction you have with students if you live in a small town (or even a small city). But, to dismiss it out of hand because of some notion that we should not be friends with our students seems bizarre to me. Especially when, with a few digital twists of the wrist, we can make sure that our online interaction is "totally open and observed".

And, to finish off...
a nice infographic on what your staff should know about social media (from a corporate perspective, but still worth some consideration).