I did not know what to expect from this debate. The topic was openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids. I came into this debate not really sure how I felt. Both teams did a fantastic job of arguing their sides and brought some really good points to the table. I left the debate still a little unsure of what side I was on.
Altan and Melinda created a wonderful video jam packed with information. They opened up with those lovely packets of information that go home at the beginning of the school year. Students are asked a million questions and they have to sign off on each page. Some pages are even multiple signatures. By the end this gets to be tedious and the parents are losing focus on what they are signing. Not to mention our EAL families that struggle with the wording in the first place. I can only imagine how overwhelming this could be. I felt I really related to this as we have a lot of EAL families in our school. Majority of the students I work with are from an EAL background. It made me think maybe we need to make sure those families have supports to get through these forms in the fall. A SWIS worker was mentioned by the opposing side as a way to help these families out. We are fortunate that the SWIS worker in our division has her office right in our school. So she is easily accessible to help us out most of the time. However, I still feel the families do not fully understand what it is they are signing off on. I think the EAL approach to this debate topic is the part that really stuck with me. Obviously because that is such a real part of my current situation. Even when I look at our school facebook page we have little response from our community. If you look closely at who is making comments or liking posts it is not our EAL families. It got me wondering if this is because of the language barrier and they are unaware of the page. Or is it because they just do not have social media. I really do think it is because they are unaware of it. I think that is a huge takeaway from this debate. Making sure my EAL families are aware of the things we do share on twitter or on facebook or on our webpage.
Of course digital divide was brought up as it is in most debates about technology in education. It was interesting hearing “What is the point in posting if no one is looking? Are we just posting to compete with other schools?” It does make you think. I really do believe some schools use their accounts as a way of posting what they have over the others but in a way isn’t that what a lot of people are doing when they post? Bragging about the good things that are happening? I guess it is all in how the post is written. Celebrating our success as a school and the success of our students is important. Like Alec mentioned, parents like to see their kids highlighted in social media. I remember growing up and opening the newspaper to see who they included in the picture for my sports team write ups. I loved seeing my teammates or myself being represented in the paper. I believe students today would feel that same pride when they see their face being bragged about on the schools page. I guess that is where the education piece comes in and we teach our students about being humble but still having a sense of pride for their accomplishments.
Dean once again proved he is meant to be a TV host or the next anchorman. However, Sherrie’s Mercer rant was one to remember. I have watched it a few times to really grasp all the points she was making. I chuckled a little at the comment about no more lost notes. How often does that agenda go home and things are not signed or notes are found on the floor at the end of the day. Parents are on their phones. No doubting that. Remind or a school facebook post to remind parents about a HOT LUNCH ON THURSDAY would probably prove to be more beneficial. I also loved the comment about teaching our students to be more informed posters, Matt said “Building those skills about proper sharing because when they get older they will do that anyways so if we teach them the skills then they will do it safely!” I really feel this is an important part of what can go wrong with students on social media. Knowing how to post and what information to include could really help keep the negative aspects of online sharing away. This goes for teachers and other school personnel too. If it is presented ethically it isn’t unfair to the students. Overall, it was a fantastic debate and one that really challenged my thinking and the way I do things as a teacher but also how our school uses openness to reach our learning community. Well done both sides!