I’m attending the Suburban School Superintendents “Leading the Way” Conference in Austin, Texas. Yesterday’s speaker was George Couros, author of The Innovator’s Mindset.
Some of my favorite quotes and takeaways from George’s remarks are:
- The leaders for tomorrow are in our classrooms now.
- Use Facebook and Twitter to be positive.
- Success is not a straight line.
Students from preschool to post college are and will continue to use technology for learning, to communicate with each other, and to connect with the world at large. Technology is one of the most significant teaching and learning, communication and interactive social tools in classrooms and in students’ lives today and well into the future. As educators we are rightfully concerned with the impact the new social media can have on our students.
When I asked George his thoughts about actions we can take to protect children from cyber bullying, I relayed a true story of a middle school child’s fear of attending school after a classmate sent an email to the entire student body referring to this preteen’s mother in vulgar, rude terms. I explained that before email, a similar hand written note may have been passed around to a few students and would have been hurtful as well. But the reality of the whole school reading the rude email, for this child was devastating to this child who didn’t want to return to school. Many of us can point to incidents that made national news because a child who experienced cyber bullying harmed themselves or others because of the anxiety and depression that resulted.
George responded, “We teach kids how to be safe. Right?”
George encouraged us to embrace and use technology in classrooms and to optimize the use of technology as critical learning tools for students. Technology is flexible, fluid and provides innovative learning pathways for students. He has a great point. As educators it is our job to teach children to be safe using technology, just as we teach them as very young children to be cautious on the playground. It is also our job to be aware of behavior that might be harmful for them in this new social media landscape.
I encourage parents and educators, to embrace technology yourselves so you can be adept and comfortable with the communication tools your students use. Be the most informed you can be to teach students how to be safe and teach them how to respond when hurtful incidents occur.