Mr. Couros has many tenants for success in schools. First and foremost he touts leaders remembering that the higher up they achieve, the more people they serve. Always keep in mind that in education you serve the students. Their well being, learning, and future are in our hands. This translates into administrators guiding teachers to encourage a rich learning experience in a school. After all testing only happens one or two days a year. It is the other 178 days where student gain the skills to acquire knowledge for jobs we haven't even conceived of in their future.
“Social media is like water. You can either let us drown, or teach us to swim.” Student Mr. Couros read this quote from a student. The student is referring to restrictive school policies with regard to device use in the classroom. Many schools and teachers still have a "No phone policy" which is stifling the creativity and validation that most students crave. He is talking about drowning in the flood of social media that they use. Often times creating a damaging digital foot print before the students realize they have created a lasting online presence.
This leads to a couple of his ideas that I have preached for years. Teachers have to embrace the idea that we must teach digital citizenship while at the same time meeting the students where they are sharing. We have to create a safe environment for sharing information with students and parents while helping them stay appropriate. The transparency and immediacy of social media help students and parents engage. It satisfies a modern student's desire to see themselves published. They want to create content, post it and get feedback. This young man is hoping the adults in his life will help him understand the responsible way of doing so.
"Don’t shut the student voice down because of the minority negative voice." Mr. Couros mentioned several examples of how social media can bring together the community in positive ways. Schools build lasting relationships with parents, business partners and students who take pride in showing off their hard work. This can come at a risk and he addressed it with a bunch of amazing stories about students coming together to drown out the inappropriate or negative comments made by the minority. When asking the students why they felt the need to be heard and drown out the bad. "They didn't want the people of the internet to feel that the negative few represented their school or them."
"Adults look at tech as a distraction, students look at tech as a window to the world. A class without tech is like a teacher closing the window on the world." -Mr. Couros. Yes, yes, yes! "Who cares where the information comes from as long as students use it to learn. It doesn’t have to be a person." -Mr. Couros. I left this session refreshed and renewed with some new insight into the minds of students. I felt affirmed over ideas that I had been promoted and was getting a little discouraged until Mr. Couros reminded me that we are truly working for the students. The future teachers think we are training students for is not the future students see themselves preparing for. We have to trust that they will take our advice when they need it and learn how to seek out information when we aren't around to help them.