This is another reflection written by a teacher that took my digital leadership graduate course last week. Rebecca is a 10th grade English teacher at Tyler Consolidated High School in West Virginia. She put into words exactly what I hoped my participants would receive from the pillar of digital leadership titled “professional growth and development.” Rebecca also offers some other insightful comments related to digital leadership.
Digital Learning: People, Not Devices
by Becca Childers, 10th Grade English Educator
When I first signed up for a digital learning class, I assumed that the course would be limited to the use of technology in the classroom, much like any other technology training that I have been encouraged to attend. For example, a class expounding upon the benefits of actually knowing how to use the SMART board that’s been in your room for a few years now or how to turn on and operate your provided iPad was what I expected, and I might add, dreaded. However, instead of walking out of this course with a renewed sense of how to use these tools, I have left with something more valuable: a sense of community with my fellow teachers and opportunities to make connections, not just with other teachers but also with the students, the parents, and the community as a whole.
Let me be clear, I am not a willing tweep. I am an advocate of teaching positive social media skills in the classroom, but my personal life is stalked by a love/hate relationship with my only social media outlet, Facebook. Twitter, in my mind, has always been just another relationship that I do not want; nonetheless, I have been converted, not because of Twitter’s most attractive attributes, confusing hashtags and the inability to block grungy skater-boy followers, but because of the amazing community of educators that have formed their own learning community that is available almost every day of the week. I am now connected with educators all over the country, and my support is no longer dependent upon whether or not the educators in my school are willing or have time to collaborate. I have a sounding board. I have tweeps.
Technology has evolved, in my mind, from simply a tool for teaching to a tool for personal growth and learning, but even more earthshattering is the possibility for building relationships between the school and the community or, more specifically, positive relationships. Every school has a reputation, but often, that reputation is built not upon what the school system and teachers have intentionally communicated with the community. It is not built upon what is actually happening in the classrooms but assumptions. That needs to change. We need to “build our brand”. One way to do that would be to open up the lines of communication through social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, but first, we must banish the idea that social media is not worth the trouble. The possibility for negative use should not cause us to throw it out entirely. Indeed, this is all the more reason to show the community and students a positive avenue of utilizing social media. Let’s not shy away from it. Let’s change it.
Isn’t that what education is meant to do? To change the world, to change perspectives for the better is the reason why education exists. To pass on knowledge, yes, but also to open minds and to instruct as to how things like social media are meant to be used. Social media is a way to connect, to build positive relationships, and to open avenues of communication for building a better community. Technology in education is not just about creating 21st Century projects or learning to use tools to survive the ever-changing professional world; technology is about the people behind it.