Then my steps falter just a bit as my mind wanders to what we so very much need to accomplish for the success of our students. We cannot keep doing what we are doing and expect better results. There is so much more we need to be doing and we are not. I have so many ideas rolling around my brain that sometimes I can’t seem to put them into any semblance of order. All of them are important on any given day, and none should be put aside.
How? How are we going to do this? Our students are hungry for new ways to learn, and yet we still plunk textbooks down on their desks, tell them to put away their cell phones, and wow – don’t bring your netbook to class! We are fighting viewpoints regarding social media and internet that are very negative – hard not to be negative when one is bombarded with news stories, and experiences of others that are very scary if they were to happen to someone we know. I don’t want to say parents and teachers are afraid of it, some just don’t know the possibilities of what harnessing these tools contain for our students – if our students are taught how to use these tools in an effective, responsible manner!
Sometimes I think we all forget that we have customers that we are serving. Not just our students, or parents, but whole communities of customers. And, like in any ‘store’, we need to make sure the customers are satisfied. But what if they are satisfied with the status quo? What if they don’t know about all that we have to offer?
Communication – let them know what is going on, what ideas are being considered, gather more information – don’t keep them in the dark!
At our school registration, I was at a table that contained all sorts of information regarding cybersafety, how to talk to your kids about social media, and keeping computers safe from virus issues, etc. This is the first year we had done anything like that and I had many parents express concern over their child’s use of computers, primarily internet games and social media. Many spoke about kids uploading photos that would some day come back to haunt them, bullying on the internet, and some mentioned plagiarism. I would respond about the programs that we were integrating into the classroom for this upcoming school year, and a few became alarmed and worried until I showed them the information that we were going to be teaching their children. The relief on their faces was very evident.
As the day progressed, my mind started churning with what I was seeing from parents – their reactions, concerns and then relief upon being educated. I realized that many, who hadn’t grown up in the age of computers and internet – although 77% of our families have computers and internet access, didn’t know what was out there, and because of that – they were frightened, and worried about their children. The fact that the school would be teaching their kids about being safe was a great relief to them.
But to me, that isn’t enough. I realized that not only do we need to educate the students, but we also need to educate the parents too. Parents need to follow through with students when they are home, and keep up the teaching of responsible use. But, how are they to do that if they are not educated in what is out there on the world wide web? I cannot help but feel very intense about this – communication, educating, and showing parents, guardians, and community members what we are doing is so very important. Having them all on board supporting the direction we are taking is important. Having them be involved in achieving our goals for their children is imperative.
What would happen if our district offered our parents the same type of classes that we are making available to our students? Wouldn’t it be cool to have bi-monthly 2 hour classes for parents/guardians and community members to attend to teach them about the internet, Web 2.0 tools, and social media? The positive aspects of each and how the business world is utilizing these tools – most of which are free -?
We are very lucky to have the school community we do have here in our district. The support from parents and community members is amazing, and if we need help in any way, many show up with smiles on their faces. Well, we need help. We need our students to be ready for their future, not ours. In order to do this, I believe we must educate the whole community as to the direction we NEED to be headed. They all need to be on board or we will be sitting here with our chins on our fists being ‘ok’ with the status quo and then wonder why our children aren’t more globally aware.
Most of which are under the headings of “Why” and “How”.
I still have a tremendous amount of information bouncing around in my head, but now there is one plan formulated. We are on our way – we will be successful in addressing what we need to do in order for our students to be successful..
We just need to meet with the parents/guardians and get them on board and excited for what is about to be coming their childrens way. Indeed, it does take a village…