To share, or not to share, that is the Question.
Last night’s debate was another incredible one. The way both sides perceived the question, their extensive research to help us understand their positions, their personal observations from their perspectives in the classroom gave space for great insight and lots to reflect on. This debate affects me both personally and professionally- as I constantly grapple with how to navigate the waters of sharing and privacy in my personal and public social media channels.
Altan and Melinda’s perspective as EAL teachers stopped me in my tracks. All school divisions have an Acceptable Use policy that we send home at the beginning of the year. Once those forms are signed and returned, we are under the assumption that posting images of students in curricular and extra-curricular settings is permissible. Altan and Melinda pointed out that the language in which those are written may not be as clear and forthright as we thought when English is not the dominant language spoken in the home. This incredibly important observation made me think of how we think we are doing the right thing, we think we are covering the bases, but are we ensuring that the information is being received in its intended nature? Kalyn went onto add that, as a Mom, she often wonders what she is signing. She observed that she sees a space for her children to participate in Seesaw, but does that also mean that they are now allowed to be shown on the school’s social media and online platforms? If she has those clarifying questions it’s safe to assume so do many others! Victoria then added that she attempts to combat this confusion with sending details of what each platform is used for, and therefore, what they are saying is OK for their children to be shown on. This shows a proactive and informative response that perhaps could help parents and families understand the complexities of that signature!
To add to dilemma and challenges that come with sharing, Melinda and Altan also spoke about the potential implications of images being used inappropriately. In the article Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures– Jessica Baron pointed out “technology coupled with parents’ behavior is increasingly putting children at risk for identity theft, humiliation, various privacy violations, future discrimination, and causing concern about developmental issues related to autonomy and consent.” This really got me thinking about the ramifications of what I post personally, and professionally. Personally, I worry about my children’s safety and do not post as often as I did when they were little. I am conscious of the privacy settings on my channels so that as they get older, they are not frustrated with what I thought was so cute when they were younger. Professionally, I currently run our School’s Instagram account and I try to be incredibly conscious of student’s privacy when posting. I try to err on the side of caution and use big group shots, use back of students heads when guest speakers are sharing, I ensure all students have signed the release form and often I rely on Adobe Spark and other ways to share information that does not include pictures of students. I realize that students may not like my cautious approach with the account as it’s rare they are predominately featured, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
To counter Melinda and Altan, Dean and Sherrie absolutely knocked it out of the park with their Rick Mercer rant! The information shared, the brevity, the acronyms, the walking and talking, the cardio! It was all so good. The major thing that I noticed during Sherrie’s “rant” (other than her cardio stamina) was how informed she was. You can tell she has worn the administrator hat and got me really thinking about all the information and legalese an administrator needs to be aware of, comfortable with and also able to share that with their student and parent/guardian population. This got me thinking of another way in which “education” is changing. Administrators have a huge thing to consider, something that did not need to be considered in the past. I realize the issues (such as bullying or speaking inappropriately) is not new, what is, is the medium and the number of people that can view it on said medium. Add in the component of keeping students safe, aware and supporting family choice while also running a school, and I can see how challenging this issue is for Administrators. Thinking down the road, I wonder if a required portion of Meet the Teacher Night or CSCC Meetings will be unpacking the issues of Social Media and the responsibilities, awareness and education that has to occur for all stakeholders- teachers, students and parents/guardians.
Dean and Sherrie went onto say that the above should not act as a deterrent for using Social Media, on the contrary they felt that being informed, making a plan and having solid procedures will help alleviate the issues to ensure all people are informed and aware of the responsibilities that come with Social Media and sharing platforms. In the article Creating an Open Classroom the article discussed several parameters to help create boundaries, expectations and a plan to move forward. The three stages outlined were:
- “The first stage is all about developing relationships between all learners which includes student- teacher and student-student relationships”.
- Relationships are critical. They lay the foundation for trust, respect and reciprocity. As teachers we all know that relationships can assist classroom management and also build a safe environment for students to learn and grow. It is no exception when considering the ramifications of Social Media and sharing of learning.
- “The second stage includes a wide variety of activities to develop digital skills, abilities and knowledge with a focus on digital literacies”
- As discussed in Debate #1, tech has the great opportunity to enhance learning when it’s framed in sound pedagogy, intention and through reflective practice. It is the same when deciding when and how to post and share information and learning.
- “The third phase has focused on interactions, collaborations and connections between the learners and non-formal learning contexts (like building a house with tradesmen, community partners, connecting with other students around the world, connecting with other teachers, and talking to family members and other community expert”
- This is like the “dress rehearsal” for helping to achieve the fourth stage. I often tell my students when they are preparing for an in-class presentation or creating a Flip Grid response, that this type of conversation is “low stakes”, but they help us practice skills for “high stakes” conversations (i.e. a conversation with a loved one, a discussion with a boss, going for an interview). I believe the more we practice expressing ourselves, the more comfortable those skills become which is advantageous when the courageous conversations will inevitably come up in our lives!
- “The fourth stage, the student will focus on exchanging, sharing and collecting learning artifacts and supporting other learners while building a sustainable Personal Learning Network/Environment”
- The more we can lean into experts in fields, the more opportunity we give to build relationships and networks the more we are setting up our students for future success in various jobs, and also practicing the skill with supervision and guidance
This debate gave me so much to think about and reflect. Moving forward I have more of an idea of how I could foster student safety. How I could communicate with home. How I could ensure that stakeholders understand their role in Digital Citizenship. How I would handle the positives and challenges as a classroom teacher and administrator. Essentially, this gave me many tools in my toolbox that I will continually reflect upon and be conscious of moving forward.