Cyberbullying, online harassment, or simply being inappropriate on the internet: for my students, these are becoming increasingly commonplace. I’m worried.
I want to think about what I need to do better, as a teacher and a coach. So here’s a list of the ways I’m failing my students:
- I am not modelling appropriate behaviour on social media for them to observe
- I am not directly instructing them about data retention policies, legalities, and (lack of) privacy
- I am not teaching them how to deal with peer pressure online
- I am not training them to be empathetic
- I am not supervising, or even keeping an eye out for trouble, when they are outside my classroom
- Since they don’t, I assume I have not made my students feel they can come to me if they are having trouble
- I am not engaging in, or sustaining, a dialogue with the students’ parents about their engagement in social media
My school could do more to red-flag inappropriate behaviour in our Google Apps set-up. Most parents should probably be doing a lot more to monitor what is going on with their students. Yet, clearly, I feel that part of the failure is my own.
Here’s what I know about the best teachers: when they fail, they come back the next day with a new, better idea. In that spirit, here’s my plan:
- Work empathy-building activities into the classroom (for my middle school students), and work empathy-building into our learning activities (for my high school students, where time is a precious commodity). In addition, I will try to think of all-school activities that could help to build empathy between students who normally don’t interact.
- Start accepting friend requests on Facebook, returning follows on Twitter, and so forth; try to engage in a positive way with my students on social media; and keep an eye out for dark corners (I made this argument last year).
- For the students I advise, prepare some lessons about responsible online citizenship, and share them with my colleagues if there is interest.
- From there, once I know more, try to contact parents as appropriate to cheerlead, support, and inform.
It’s time to go connect with some of my students.