Sense of Urgency

Sign under the clock at each of Thomas Keller’s restaurants

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

Archimedes (287 BC – 212 BC)

Coming Through! Get Out of Their Way!

I can’t think of any words better to encapsulate the energy and utility with which the youth of today are using the most powerful tools they have to affect social change. Of course, the lever is the internet, more specifically social media, and in my opinion, the fulcrum is youth. The youth of today, unlike older generations, feel such an incredible sense of urgency for and agency about the environmental, racial, gun control, economic, gender, and other issues they feel are broken, unspoken, or unjust.

In a 2015 interview, Keller was asked about that dictate:

…it’s something I ask my team to come to work with each day, and it goes beyond just making sure we are prepared and ready to serve. It’s about speed, but it also means investing in what we do with importance.

Social media like Twitter makes it very easy for them for broadcast their voice around the world. While the voices of many who want to promote their causes do get lost in the whirlwind, many have pierced the fog. Pakistani Malala Yousafzai is just one of the many who have been able to reach hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, and not just young people, but adults and media, and far beyond their borders, by leveraging the power of the internet.

Helping students be powerful and do amazing things with this tool we (ok, I) didn’t grow up with means we mostly need to get out of their way. If we just come at them with a lot of fear-based lessons and judgments, they’re less likely to come to us when they really need our advice and guidance. They don’t fear the internet and we shouldn’t try to make them fear it. If we try, they’ll think we’re out of touch and tune us out. (Guess what? We are kind of out of touch, but we can still be useful to them and to our schools.)

My School’s EUP

The assistant principal is currently updated my school’s Acceptable Use Policy, so I’m reluctant to comment on an EUP which may differ a little or a lot from last year’s policy. Last year was the first time we had an EdTech Committee (or any committees beside the division committees, thanks WASC!) and we (I’m on the EdTech Committee, naturally, especially since I’m one of only 24 teachers at KKFS), made a lot of recommendations for updating the policy. It’s in the AP’s hands right now, and I’m not sure what it will look like yet.

However, I know we disseminate our AUP through the student handbook, which every student signs. I don’t deal with electronic devices in my 2nd grade classroom (except to forbid them during school), so I don’t need to keep a copy of the student handbook in my room, but I’m really hoping all the G3 and above teachers do.

We all dislike the legalize of the 2018-2019 policy, and after reading Instead of an AUP, how about an EUP (Empowered Use Policy)?, I don’t like the negative language either. That article and the comments below it create an outstanding paradigm for creating a more positive AUP. I just shared it with the Committee.

One of our goals next year is to write the AUP in language that’s easy for students to understand, which means we’ll have at least two versions of it, HS/MS and ES. This will likely lead to some student involvement in the policy as we give it to them to see how clear it is to them. That can only be a good thing.

Staying Sharp

While it’s impossible to know everything, it is possible to know where to find everything via your Personal Learning Network. For me, that’s likely you, the person reading my post, and many, many more people I know or have connected with via (mainly) Twitter. Students at my school increasingly look to members of the newly-formed EdTech Committee because of our efforts to post the ISTE standards for students (Thank you for the lovely posters Tanya! I swear we started using them before I enrolled in COETAIL.) in multiple places around the school.

I’ve been a resource for the staff on all things tech and social media for most of my time at KKFS since I have a decent IT background. It’s very gratifying for me to be seen as a resource for students and staff and I’m happy to make the impossible possible, demystify technology, and make they their professional lives easier.

I’m still learning, always learning, how to learn when there’s so much to learn. I don’t want to be a specialist, but I think it’s impossible to have knowledge both wide and deep considering the sheer amount there is to know and all of the other responsibilities I have as a classroom teacher and a human being who wants to have a social life.

This course certainly has given me a huge boost in my media literacy, and I look forward to coaching staff and students, formally and informally, as they have questions arise.