Tuesday, September 01, 2009
A Challenge to Teachers: Mentor Young Teachers in Social Tech
There is something wrong here.
This picture (and please, if you are viewing this on a feed where the pic isn't showing up, please visit the main TeachPaperless page to see this) is unacceptable.
It is unacceptable on so many levels. But let me give some context.
This is a screen capture of a Tweet that reads: "I am scared of twitter". It was not written by a 35 year veteran fearing that social media is undermining his or her career. It was not written by an overburdened administrator fearing another lawsuit. It was not written by an overworked IT guy or gal nervous about whether the local network will be able to withstand the pounding social media has the potential to dish out.
This Tweet was written by a twenty-something new teacher in an ed school classroom.
My ed school classroom.
This is unacceptable.
What have we done? How have we allowed social media to become so seemingly monolithic that a young teacher would write this as his or her ONLY tweet?
We have to do better. This one's on us.
This is the result of scaring our kids into thinking predators were the de facto users of MySpace. This is the result of banning mobile devices in our classrooms. This is the result of teachers being threatened with termination for using social media and kids being blocked from using email at school.
This one's on us. We have to take responsibility for this. We have to turn this around.
Now, maybe I'm just overestimating this. After all, I'm sure it was just a joke, right?
Well, I would think that, and I'd appreciate the joke, if it weren't for the fact that in this first week of building our PLNs, this particular student had a total of four followers and one Tweet.
But it's not just the student's fault for being unwilling to try out the network; it's also our fault for letting it come to this. Because the way most ed school programs are currently set up, there's no reason WHY any young teacher would think they'd be expected to have a professional working knowledge of social technology.
We've got to change that.
So here's what I'm calling on my fellow PLN members and ed school teachers to do: find three young teachers in your building, in your ed school, or through your PLN. Mentor those teachers. Teach them WHY they should build a PLN. Teach them what it means to participate as a professional. Don't worry about teaching them every little gimmick and gadget that comes down the pike; just teach them what it means to be part of a network, what it means to be connected, how to use a PLN to grow professionally as a teacher.
Furthermore, contact your local ed schools. Contact your alma mater. Tell those schools that as a teaching professional, you demand they include mandatory courses teaching and modeling the integration of social technology into classroom instruction; tell them that facility with social media should be a qualification for earning a degree.
We can't afford to let young teachers slip through ed school without a working knowledge of social technology and a foundational PLN. This begins with us. Serious or not, this is no joking matter.