Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Difficulties Teaching in a Wired World

As I was taking a look at Katherine Brindley's article, Teacher Texting Students: Should Schools Ban or Encourage, which had been published in the Huffington Post (article:, I made the mistake of reading the reader comments at the end of the article. I've generally trained myself to avoid reader comments as a general rule. However, my curiosity and interest in the topic lead me to go against my better judgement. Note to self - do not read the reader comments! 

Regardless of the reader comments, Katherine Brindley raises a number of interesting and valid points in her article. The topic of student-teacher communication via text, email, and/or social networking has been an hot topic as of late. School districts and state education departments alike are reviewing various policies seeking to ban student-teacher electronic communication. Some have gained traction; others have been overturned and abandoned after legal intervention. 

Should we have blanket policies banning student-teacher communication outside the school day? Absolutely not. I believe we should encourage and support blended learning environments and collaboration through educationally sound social mediums such as Edmodo, Google Apps for Education, and others. I believe we need to adapt our teaching styles to meet the demands of our students' learning styles and infuse technology to foster communication and collaboration.

Nevertheless, I found myself reading reading through the reader comments. One user's comment in particular made me cringe. This individual who's username is FunctionOfTheCrisp, wrote:

"When I was in school (the ancient 1990s) students didn't call their teachers. Business was handled during the class period and resumed the next class period. The ability of a teacher to accomplish that was standard leadership and classroom management. This was true for standard academic classes. Extracurriculars were a little different because of the logistics, mostly. It was considered reasonable that students would call their band directors, coaches, etc. if necessary. 

Am I to understand that this is no longer the way things are? I can tell you that if I ever became a K-12 teacher, I would continue the policy of my youth. There would be no texting, e-mails or phone calls with me unless it was an emergency." 

As a former student of the 1990s and now a teacher of today, I take offense to the last part of this comment. "If I ever became a K-12 teacher, I would continue the policy of my youth." Really? You graduated public school so that apparently makes you an expert of K-12 education? 

Having graduated in 1997 and now teaching in 2012, I can attest that things have changed drastically. In 1997, cell phones were practically non-existent. Dial-up internet was the status quo. Forget about wireless access points or 3G access. It was Netscape all the way! Google, Facebook, Twitter were not household names and would not be so for some time. 

Unfortunately, these sort of comments tend to highlight the difficulties of teaching in a wired world. These comments are not uncommon - hence the reason I avoid most reader comments. These same comments pop up in the districts I work with as well. 

Technology has changed how we do things. What has worked for the past 10 or 20 years won't necessarily work for the next 10 or 20 years. We need to change. We need drastic change. 

As an educator and a technology specialist, I know the value in integration technology in the classroom. I have seen how communication and collaboration have improved the learning environment. There is value in technology and we need to harness it, foster it, and support it. We should stand up against these blanket policies and redirect our energy on digital citizenship and properly use of technology rather than sheltering our students from it. We need to instill change in our teachers; we need to instill change in our students. 

We need to get beyond the mindset of what worked for me then will work for them now. You didn't have what we have today. Yeah you got by and did well. Imagine how much better our students will do when you present them with the opportunities that you didn't have!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the Certification! I just recently received my rejection letter, did you ever resubmit after you were rejected or did you just receive another notice saying you were selected?

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