…grab some tequila and salt!
For that debate, I wrote from my perspective as a 2nd grade teacher who has been charged with educating the newish humans of this world. Those little humans are viewed as vulnerable, fragile, and in need of protection. Their parents see me as an extension of themselves and I must separate my own feelings about technological freedom in the classroom.
So I will come clean. I was Team Green. I share this news with much reluctance because green is my teacher color. As a parent, COETAILer, and innovator, I definitely see myself as a blue. So does that make me… cyan?!?
The words “no,” “don’t,” and “stop” are appropriate for some situations. “Don’t eat the Play-Doh,” “No, I will not buy you another Build-A-Bear,” or “Stop putting sunglasses on the dog’s butt!” In those sentences, the negative words all make sense. But in a school environment, we try to steer clear of those terms. We endeavor to be encouraging towards our students. We want them to try and to do instead of the opposite. In my classroom we do this in week one. Together, the students and I make a classroom contract focusing on what we will do rather than the old “Do not” of classrooms past.
So, last week, when I argued about the control schools should have on students and their internet access, I was speaking from a teacher who doesn’t really have time to deal with the repercussions. I would rather spend time thinking about how to try new things rather than meeting with Administration and parents over something seen on the web. Last week, I wrote from my position as an elementary teacher, who must walk the fine line between innovating and protecting. This makes me green!
This weekend, just when I was getting ready to work on my reflection of last week’s post… my son gave me lemons.
I’ll spare you all the details, but in order to understand more, you need to know these basic facts:
- my son is in grade 6–so his brain is not firing on all cylinders
- he doesn’t check the To: line of his emails before sending
- he may have a secret zest for Russian women
The kid made a mistake. He was on an internet site that included a banner for a Russian dating site. The banner wasn’t too salacious, but it certainly did not warrant sharing. Yet he did. He copied the link, sent it to some friends and inadvertently sent it to a teacher as well. After some heavy discussion and atonement, consequences and new guidelines were imparted, and the lessons were learned. Or so we thought. When things cooled down, I asked, “So what was the biggest lesson you learned today?” Through tears and embarrassment he answered, “The internet is bad.”
Believing the internet was bad was the LAST thing I wanted my son to learn. The internet is not bad. It’s an amazing tool that should be embraced for all it’s amazingness. As a cyan I need to follow the teachings of Dr. Scott McLeod who eloquently shines light on amazing children who are participating in “robust, at home learning our kids are doing with technology… But in school… not so much. The challenge for us is how do we turn the extracurricular into the curricular?”
McLeod’s answer–“We have to get beyond our fear” because “we do everything we can to get tech into the hands of our kids, and then we do everything we can to prevent them from using it.”
So my takeaway from these past two weeks… it’s OK to be cyan as long as I’m learning blue because then I’m moving beyond fear and control and towards empowerment. I’m straying away from the “no,” “stop,” and “don’t” of the world and entering the realm of, “let’s try”, “we will,” and “I’m in.”
As educators we owe it to the world to empower children to be responsible. It’s that simple. Be responsible! Be responsible in what you do, what you say, how you act, and what you share.
So… when life gives you lemons, it’s not all that bad. As long as you have some tequila and salt nearby.