Tag Archives: social media

If Everything is Social Media to teens…

I just read this excellent post by Carl Hooker, The Truth About Teens: Everything is Social Media, shared by George Couros. Hooker speaks about his experiences working with a group of students and the questions he asked them about their social media uses and habits.  You really should read the full post; the activities and responses are awesome!

A couple of the questions really resonates. One was whether or not they believed a deleted photo really disappeared and the other was about which apps kids were using including ones which parents should beware of.  I love the honesty of the kids.

What I found interesting:

-KiK was listed as a messaging tool in this list by the students, but not placed in the “beware” category.  This app has come under scrutiny for cyberbullying (Check out this CNN article) and when I hosted a panel of adults and teens, Tinder also came up as an app to be aware of.

-YikYak was listed (as perhaps it should be), and yet, as I learned from experience, that this is complicated.

One of the main conclusions that came out was that students are using platforms that would not necessarily be considered social media and using them to communicate with one another in similar ways to how they are using social media.

Obviously there are no right or wrong answers and each school community will have different experiences from which to draw their opinions.  It is however clear that there are a whole host of social media sites that can be used for nefarious reasons.  It’s not about the tool, but the user of the tool.  I can use YikYak (as my daughter does) to post silly puns about her day, or I can use it to demean someone annonymously.  I can use Twitter to promote awareness about an organization or an important cause, or I can use it to subtext and demoralize someone. And I can use Youtube to do the same thing.

Any social media tool can be used negatively or positively

And, if indeed teens use many spaces in the same way as they use social media, then is it really effective for us to spend so much time fear-mongering in schools about how bad social media is?  We arbitrarily block sites– I say arbitrarily because the list Hooker generated yielded some apps neither he nor I have heard of, so an IT Dept would not know to block it.  Shouldn’t we instead, be spending more of that time teaching kids how to communicate effectively online and in some of these spaces?

This is on my mind especially because of the events of the other day.  I tweeted out the link to a hashtag that kids had created for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy test. #osslt2016  My daughter and I got a real kick out of the very clever posts by students who had just written the test.  Even EQAO (the governing body overseeing the test) responded light-heartedly:

Then a friend of mine pointed out that there was an extremely inappropriate post in the feed. When I looked, I was mortified. Instinctively, I deleted my tweet and reported the tweet as offensive.  This student basically likened writing the test to wanting to be a suicide bomber and included a photo!

Then I took a closer look.  This was just a grade 10 kid trying to be funny and not really understanding the impact.  I looked at his Facebook page (easy enough to find) and realized from the very innocent profile and posts that he had just made a vast error in judgement.

I instinctively contacted him via Twitter.  It could have gone one of two ways: he could have responded maliciously, or he could have realized his error.  Here is how the exchange went:

Me: This is never ever appropriate. Nor is it funny.  And this tweet can come back to haunt you when you are looking for a job.

Student: (Liked, Retweeted) Thx

Me: You are welcome. Delete it and hopefully no one will see it for now. Good luck!

Student: Kk (Deleted the tweet)

If I wasn’t in this space, I would not have been able to help this student.

This experience has reaffirmed my conviction that we need to spend more time focusing on using social media in positive ways.  When we talk about social media, we can’t always use the fear narrative; but we need to be in these spaces to help students navigate the tricky waters!

Carl Hooker’s post and my own experience have me wondering:

Do we use Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc…in our teaching and learning ? Or are we blocking them and having kids communicate in these spaces on their own?

Do we talk to students about apps that worry them and brainstorm ways to turn possible negative experiences into positives?

Do we explicitly teach students how to comment effectively online, in a variety of places? Give them strategies to respond (or not respond) to inappropriate comments?  Give them challenges to respond positively to change the trajectory of negative posts?

Do we allow our students to comment on the Youtube videos they watch in class or do we just share the link ?   Or do we block Youtube altogether?

Do we help students in school develop an online presence so that when they are “googled” they have positives that outweigh some of the gaps in judgement?

We need to focus on Digital Citizenship AND Digital Leadership in school simultaneously.


Social Identity and Social Media

This week, I have been thinking much about the role of social media in the formation of social identity.

Research indicates that adolescents are deeply concerned about how they appear in the eyes of their peers. “[A]dolescence is an intensely social time when the hunger for belonging, community, social status, and emotional closeness provide the context within which teens discover their identity.”   So too their moral reasoning is based on both personal and external factors and they are developing relationships which are independent of their family relationships.  (Armstrong, 2006 in Adolescent Literacy Guide).

This is not a new phenomena: we all went through the angst of being a teen (for many of us, though, in an analogue world).  We spoke on the phone for hours, fretted about friendships, over-analysed comments made by peers, were heart-broken when we weren’t invited to a party, worried about wearing the right thing, saying the right thing. We tested friendships, lost friendships, gained friendships.  We felt betrayed and buoyed by our peers, felt the pressure to do drugs, smoke, skip school.  And still, we shared our secrets with them and kept our lives guarded from the prying eyes of our parents.

So it was no surprise to me when I read these details from the CNN Special Report, Being 13: Perils of lurking online, last week:

When we asked 13-year olds “What is the worst thing that happened to you on media, their responses included these:

  • Being excluded to some parties.
  • My best friends hung out without me, and posted it on instagram.
  • My friends went out without me and posted pictures on instagram then denied they were out together.
  • Not anything specific, but I don’t like when people post pictures or tweet about a party that I wasn’t invited to.
  • Seeing pictures posted by my friends doing things where I wasn’t included.

Even before the dawn of social media, adolescents cared deeply about fitting in and were hurt when they felt excluded from face-to-face interactions or by seeing the popular kids hang around together. What is different now is that social media affords frequent opportunities for all teens to see pictures of parties they were not invited to and friends having fun without them, images they would be spared if social media did not exist. (CNN, 2015)

The problem with this statement is that social media does exist.  Technology provides a means for teens to connect with their peers, to figure out where they stand in their communities.  Their status updates and the way they are communicating provide one means for them to develop and express a personal and social identity.

I didn’t watch the whole series, so I’m not sure to what extent they dealt with the fear narrative that often accompanies teen use of social media,  but this segment in particular, speaks to issues surrounding social identity including self-confidence, acceptance, and belonging; age-old issues.

Thus, as educators we can’t only focus on their social media personas in a “don’t do this” kind of way.  We need to  teach students to love and respect themselves and each other being explicit about acknowledging the role social media plays.   Just as there has always been a need to address magazine cover models and their artificiality, today, kids need to understand that many of the posts they see are “highly groomed” and “seemingly glamorous” views of the social lives of their peers.

A few Ideas for supporting students to create positive identities


The hashtag. The website Choose2Matter The philosophy via Angela Maiers:

  • You are enough.
  • You have influence.
  • You are a genius.
  • You have a contribution to make.
  • You have a gift others need.
  • Your actions define your impact.
  • You are the change.
  • You matter.

Students need to love themselves and know that they are loved.  They need to respect themselves and others.  Having caring adults support them and their aspirations will help them feel less vulnerable.  We need to raise kids who put people up, not people who thrive on putting others down.

The Power of Words

One of my classmates, Kerri Langer, created a very powerful lesson around the Power of Words.  She had her kindergarten & grade 1 students create posters about their ideas about how words can be powerful.  They created a video called, Kids making a difference one word at a time.

Giving students the opportunity, at every grade, to talk to kids about how the words we choose are significant may go a long way to developing empathy and to explore their sense of “self” in relation to “other”.

I love this video, Color Your World with Kindness.  It shows how small actions can have a powerful impact.

I love this message for younger students. For older students, could they create their own versions of the video answering the question, “What would this video look like if  we included social media interactions”?

In his post, Teaching Empathy: Are we teaching content or students, Terry Heick speaks to the importance of teaching empathy.  He says,

More than anything else though, empathy is a tone. Broken into parts, it is about self, audience, and purpose. It helps students consider:

  • Who am I?
  • Who is “other”? And how? In what functions and degrees?
  • How do we relate? What do we share?
  • What do they need from me, and I from them?

Tribes and Community Circle

I have participated in Tribes training and I love the Tribes Agreements as they can be applied in any classroom at any grade level.

  1. Attentive listening
  2. Appreciation/no put-downs
  3. Mutual respect
  4. Participation/right to pass.

Check out this article, by Wendy Ryan:  Tribes: A Way to Create Positive Climate in the School and Reduce Bullying? shared by Christy Cate

One of the activities within the Tribes training  is the Community Circle, whereby kids sit or stand in a circle and engage in an activity that is risk-free and invites participation from everyone.  The topic may or may not be related to the learning of the day, but is more designed so that kids look each other in the eye, and listen to what each person has to say.  It is designed to build positive rapport in the classroom.

Tap into Interests and Passions

Since adolescence is also a time of uncertainty when it comes to personal strengths and abilities (Adolescent Literacy Guide, pg 10), then tapping into student interests and passions will help them to develop confidence.  This might include using Popular Culture in the classroom, using Inquiry-based learning or an “innovation week” model as a pedagogical approach, and allowing students to select their own reading material.


I adapted this poster from an unknown online source.  I think that it’s a great frame for students (and adults) to use before they communicate face to face or online.


Allow Social Media

Can we talk about compassion, empathy, and/or the power of words today without talking about what this looks like face to face AND online?  If we don’t, do we run the risk of our students thinking that these two worlds, are their identities in these worlds are not the same?

While reading the article, “Using Facebook to Explore Adolescent Identities,” by J Hughes and L. Morrison, based on research study done exploring issues such as cyberbullying, depression, and body image in two grade 9 classes in Toronto,  this stood out for me:

“…This highlights the the need for educators to incorporate a critical analysis of [social media] and its role in identity development, and to start incorporating [social media] as a tool for raising awareness about critical issues facing adolescents.  This would reshape how students think about the potential of social networking sites at such a formative age” (Hughes & Morrison, 2013, pg 13).

So often students comment on each other’s statuses via social media. Could we have them comment on blogs, Youtube videos, Twitter posts, Pintrest boards, etc… that are based in our subject area so that students know what good comments look like? So conversations around critical issues in that realm can arise?

If we don’t show them alternative ways to use social media, will they ever learn about its potential for good?  Its powerful connections?

Eric Pickersgill, a visiting lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the photographer behind the series titled Removed. In this series the technology is literally removed. The effect is haunting.  It begs the question, are we mindful of how technology is affecting our relationships?  What are the implications of not including conversations about technology and identity  at the dinner table and in classrooms when the world is so clearly connected?

It is easy to be pedantic when we talk about teens and their cell phones, but do we go beyond what we see? Do we remember what it is like to be a teenager? Do we listen or lecture?  Do we consider that though the medium has changed, at the heart of the matter is relationships?

Would love to hear your additional comments and ideas.


Hughes, J. & Morrison, L. (2013). Using Facebook to explore adolescent identities. International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, Special Issue, 1(4), 370-386.

Ontario., Curriculum and Assessment Policy Branch. (n.d.). Adolescent literacy guide: A professional learning resource for literacy, grades 7-12. Literacy Gains.

Fears, Cheers, Unclears: Parenting in a Connected World

Every time I gather with friends, our conversation inevitably turns to our kids and their use of social media.  I find there are three types of parent attitudes:

ostrich I have no idea

A few parents have no idea about what apps their kids are on and what they are doing there.  They will openly admit to having no clue about how anything works and don’t really care to find out.

lock & keyThere is no way

A few of my friends are adamant that their kids not engage in any communication via social media and are openly fearful about anything concerning technology.  They are typically also extremely controlling of everything their kids do if they are on any of these platforms.

discussionLet’s Talk About it

Yet other parents are curious and involved.  They have frequent and open discussions with their kids about the apps they are using and how they are using them.  Despite this, these parents have lots of questions about the a apps themselves and how they work, in particular, how to keep kids safe.

And many of us fall somewhere in between.  Frankly, it feels like we’re swimming in unchartered waters without a life raft most of the time!

Enter the Fears, Cheers, Unclears Parent & Teen Community Event!

Parenting today is complicated.  What’s Snapchat? Instagram? Twitter?  How much time is too much time to be online?  How do I keep my kids safe, while giving them the space they need to grow into responsible adults?  Our panel discussion of adults and teens will start conversations around some of the questions that we have as we parent in a connected, digital age.

Get involved!  Please submit your questions for our panelists by clicking here.


Live in York Region? Register for this FREE event here.

Not in York Region?

We will be live-streaming this event.  Check @BullyFreeYR for the link closer to the event date.


Consider organizing your own event.  Look for the local chapter of the Awesome Foundation, approach your local Council,  and assemble a panel of community members.  I’d be happy to help you get started!

This initiative was made possible by the Awesome Foundation Grant and the generosity of the Town of Newmarket.

Check out the blog post New Roads GM Group wrote about our upcoming event here.

Awesome Foundation

Here is great post related to this topic, Protecting or Ignoring, by George Couros, and an article by Andrew Campbell posted in the Toronto Star, Are Kids Behaving Badly Online.

Attribution: The title Fear, Cheers, & Unclears comes from a protocol I used at a Ministry of Education (Ontario) session, but the original source of the protocol is unknown to me.

Social Media and Trying to Find Balance


I have been thinking about this blog post shared by George Couros and the subsequent conversation with Jason Wigmore.
I'm quitting Social MediaIn her post, Jessi Hempel talks about the many factors that have influenced her decision to take a sabbatical from social media for the month of August.  It’s a humorous and thoughtful take on how to balance social media in your life.  I think that what’s niggling at me most is the idea of going cold-turkey for a month and whether or not that is the best approach; at least I don’t think it is for me as an educator.

You can’t argue with the fact that technology is so ubiquitous that it can literally take over every minute if you allow it to.  And that the need for balance is more necessary today than it ever has been as a result.

But, like Jason, I enjoy having the luxury of time in the summer to read more blog-posts and connect with like-minded educators on Twitter which I don’t necessarily have the time to do when the school year is in full swing. I really love reading someone’s post, the comments, and then adding to the conversation with my own comment.  I think I learn more from that process than I might attending a conference.  I simply don’t have as much time for reflection during the school year when I know I skim and scan some of the items shared with me on Twitter and put them aside to get back to.  In the summer, I can actually read a post twice if I need to, I can think about where I could use the ideas and plan to make it happen or I can thoughtfully share the information with people who might find it useful.  I truly believe that being a connected educator is valuable every day of the year.

If I believe that to be a teacher is to be a learner,  

then does it make sense to stop learning in the summer?

Socially, I am notorious for missing birthdays and milestone events in the lives of my friends and family because I rarely get on Facebook or Instagram (which I use for personal rather than professional connections) unless it’s summer time.  I love to re-connect with everyone on those platforms in July and August.

I think of my kids, who have spent every daytime moment with their friends at school who because of varying schedules have not been able to physically connect with their friends over the summer.  They use Snapchat and Instagram to keep in touch.  I remember how connected to my friends I was at that age and how often my parents yelled at me for being on the phone!

Admittedly, I have to try really hard to strike a balance with technology and social media and to model that balance for my kids, but the lazy hazy days of summer seem like the ideal opportunity to do that.

Every summer, we go on a family road trip.  Typically, we turn off our cellular data and only used our phones to take pictures.  We listen to music and trivia in the car.  On our Washington DC visit this summer, we toured tons of museums and monuments, and had lots of great conversations. I’m not going to lie.  When we hit a McDonalds or coffee shop with wifi, everyone took out their phones to get updates.  It was like we had been trekking through a desert and didn’t realize how thirsty we were until we arrived at an Oasis.  But we had a good conversation about that at our next non-wifi stop and for almost the entire trip we were connecting with one another.

Summer for us is about going for walks, or long bike-rides, swimming in the pool, visiting cottages, and hosting friends.  At camp, there are no devices allowed.  And so with all of these opportunities for outdoor activities, it’s actually easier to model an appropriate balance. Isn’t it?

As a parent and teacher, the need for modelling and seeking balance is particularly important. But sometimes, it’s tough-going!

I would say that both myself and my husband are just as addicted to social media as my kids.  I am definitely a Twitter addict! One of the things I had to do while I’ve been busy working on a course is turn off my notifications, so I could keep from being distracted.  I openly shared my struggle and why I was doing that with my teens so that when they have an important assignment, they might use the same strategy.  And I love Hempel’s idea of creating a Folder on my phone called, “Don’t Touch” which might work for these instances.

There are a couple of year-long absolutes in our family:

1. no devices at the table (at home or a restaurant) and when guests are over

2. devices stay downstairs at bedtime

The rest is a bit of a work in progress.

Obviously, we are a middle class family with summers off.  The issue of balance becomes even more complicated if kids are left to their own devices (pardon the pun) and don’t have the opportunities and the modelling that our family situation can provide.

But technology isn’t going away any time soon, so we really need to keep working at finding a solution that is going to work for us.  Giving up technology for a week, a month, or for Lent isn’t going to solve the problem.

And I think we need to take it easy on kids if as adults we’re struggling too. It can’t be one of those, “Do as I say!” things because I know how much I hated that!!

Putting your phone away.jpg-large


Knowing when it is appropriate to have a device out of sight and when/how to connect with experiences and people in real life are increasingly important lessons for any age group every day of the year.

Being fluid and mindful and having ongoing conversations about it might be the best approach.






I also

Yik Yak: What you should know, what you can do if you need to, and why it’s complicated.

A few days ago, a friend talked to me about YikYak.  I had heard of this before but had never really checked it out.  I knew that it was a platform for potential cyberbullying because The Bully Free Alliance of York Region of which I am a member, has spoken openly about the potential danger of the app which operates on the promise of anonymity.  But, when we looked at the app that afternoon the only thing that stood out was, “Poop is poop spelled backwards.”  I had no idea that one day later, I would lose sleep over some of the posts on the app.

What is Yik Yak?

Yik Yak is a social media app where users can “yak” anonymously. As is the case with other social media, the app in and of itself is not “bad”.  One student I talked to about it said she liked to see what students at different universities were saying on campus. Yik Yak does, in fact, have pretty explicit rules about its use, but the lure of anonymity makes it fertile ground for mean-spirited individuals to engage in offensive behaviour.

The premise is that you sign up for this service, enable location services, and then you can get a live feed of what everyone within a 1.5 Km radius is saying around you–completely anonymously.  Few, if any adults are in the space, so you can imagine what might happen.

If you disapprove of a post, you can “downvote,” but if you can “upvote” it as well. The up and down votes cancel each other out.  If there are 5 “down votes” the message will disappear.  The messages with the most “upvotes” rise to the top.

There has been much written about the app in the US. At USC, one editor urges that we get rid of Yik Yak completely.  Diana Graber of the Huffington Post has an interesting post about it, as does the Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey, “How do you solve a problem like Yik Yak?”

At one of our schools, YikYak got completely out of hand the other day.  And though some students would “downvote” comments so they disappeared within minutes, there were a plethora of offensive comments posted with several “upvotes”.

Students and teachers who were targeted were completely demoralized and upset. Understandably, the teachers and administrators who found out about it wanted IT to shut it down and I in truth, as I worried about the welfare of students targeted, in that moment I did not disagree.

What we learned about Yik Yak and inappropriate use

A more effective mechanism, we learned, is to have YikYak apply a geofence  to suspend the account if there is evidence that there are posts made by minorities or that the app is being used inappropriately.  This is what would appear if the account was suspended:

Yik Yak worked with administration to ensure that a geofence was put up–though this process takes anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days.  These steps  may provide support for administrators or Guidance Counsellors who notice that YikYak is being used offensively:

                                                                                                                                                                              (emphasis added)
Here is the contact information for Yik Yak Support http://www.yikyakapp.com/ in case you need it.

A few other things Yik Yak told us:

-if a post is flagged multiple times, it is sent to our moderation team. If you flag a post, the user who created it will not know that you flagged their post, however, if they are suspended, they will receive a notification about their suspension.

-Yik Yak cannot disclose any user information without the proper documents from law officials.

The federal Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., restricts Yik Yak’s disclosure of user account information without the lawful consent of the account holder or unless authorized by a properly issued warrant, court order, or subpoena. As a result, Yik Yak can only respond to requests for user account information that are received directly from a law enforcement agency pursuant to appropriate legal process. If you are aware of an emergency situation or other criminal activity, you should immediately contact your local law enforcement officials.
Guidelines for law enforcement officials seeking information about Yik Yak user accounts are available on the website at: [ http://www.yikyakapp.com/legal/ ]http://www.yikyakapp.com/legal/. Please have law enforcement contact us following these guidelines.

What the school did…

Administrators let Guidance and Chaplaincy know about the app and the comments made on it as it was clear that some students would need the support. There was an announcement made and a few teachers posted in the app, which in some ways made it worse.

The principal called for an assembly of the President’s Council (the students who represent each of the Councils in the school), where he asked them what they thought should be done to address the situation.  As in any situation like this, often the students posting offensive things are in the minority, and with the situation out of hand, it was clear that these students wanted to ensure that they became part of the solution.

What the students said…

So much more than we could have anticipated as they engaged in some genuine dialogue about what could be done.  Here’s a summary:

  • Many students implored us to shut the app down completely
  • Other students argued that if you shut the app down,  there are other apps that operate in the same way (they referenced Whisper and Ask FM)
  • Others made the comment that if the Board blocked the app, students would just use their own data.
  • One student made us aware of the “flagging” mechanism which can only be seen if you go into the comment itself.
  • Others suggested that they spread the word and go into the app to post silly comments and to counter-act some of the negative ones
  • One young woman suggested that teachers be more vigilant with the no cell-phone in class policy.
  • Many students wanted to into their classes and talk about the issue with them
  • Most of them agreed that the week before, there had been nothing objectionable on the app, and that most likely next week it would be not newsworthy again.

In the end, the student action plan was that while school administration and IT worked on blocking the app, students would..

1.  Flag posts which were inappropriate and identified users
2.  Post on the app in more positive ways, ensuring that anyone who was targeted was supported and/or complimented and encourage their Councils to do so as well.
3.  Speak to their classmates about the situation.

Administration empowered the students to address the problem and the students took on the responsibility willingly and with much empathy, but there will need to be much healing and support for the school community as a result of this incident.


What I did as a parent…

Being so affected by this incident, I got our family (my two teenage daughters) to download the app and we read some of the posts together.  There was nothing really objectionable.  In fact, many of the posts in our geographic area were silly:
“I’m still scared of thunder and I’m 18”
“It’s awesome to have really good conversations with my dog”

I asked them what they would do if do if they saw something mean or inappropriate.  My older daughter said she would downvote it so it would disappear as quickly as possible “so the person wouldn’t feel bad.”  Now she could have just been saying that because we were having this conversation. But we were having the conversation.
And then she said, “This is kind of stupid actually”…and deleted the app.

But yesterday, my daughter re-installed the app and I was horrified.

My inside voice screamed, “How dare you?  Delete that app right now!” My outside voice calmly asked why she would do that when she knew about the horrible things that had happened in the app and that clearly I was so affected by the events that happened.  Her response to me was interesting. She said that in our area the posts are silly and funny.  She said, “Don’t worry mum, if I see something inappropriate, I’ll downvote it or report it.”  She even asked me to look at it with her.

And despite every fibre in my being that was screaming at me to get her to delete it, I didn’t (for now) because the posts in our area really aren’t inappropriate.   Will I be extra diligent about checking up on her in that space? Absolutely.  But, letting her keep the app says I trust her and I want her to keep talking to me about the world into which I have so little insight as an adult.  Besides, now I know exactly what to do if there is something inappropriate or dangerous happening.

A Very Complicated Issue

So often we think of something like this as very black and white, but there are so many layers here to consider.

One of the students with whom we spoke was very forthright in his comments to us about how adults sometimes oversimplify things like this.  While we tend to speak about “good students” and “bad students”posting, he thoughtfully suggested that a very good student who might be needing to vent, might use Yik Yak as a mechanism to do so and that to categorize “good” and “bad” is not entirely accurate or fair.

And if your adult voice is emphatic that having an online place to vent is just stupid and dangerous, you need to read Dana Boyd’s book, It’s Complicated, which might make you rethink the idea of how students today view privacy in their networked lives.

And then there is the issue of blocking apps by IT.  There is no question that this app needed to be blocked immediately in this case to ensure the safety and well being of staff and students being targeted.  And yet there is lingering doubt in my mind that blocking all objectionable apps is a real solution; a sentiment echoed by more than one of the students.  In this case, isn’t knowledge power? Wouldn’t an administrator, like to be able to go onto the app to see what activity is happening that might put students in jeopardy without it being blocked from view because in reality students would still be able to do all of this on their own networks?  Might we need to rethink this stance in order to understand the realm of social media a little better as educators?

Then again, if we don’t block an app like this, is it reasonable to suggest that Administrators can be aware of and check all of the apps out there that might potentially cause this much damage? Who has time for that?  This issue alone took up the full attention of the admin team when we know that there are so many other issues that are important to the well being of students in a school.

Another issue that came up is to enforce the “no cell-phone in class” rule.  Does that really solve the problem? Everything I do in my job encourages the use of technology in class as it can provide so many opportunities for creativity and accessibility.  I’m not sure I could even teach a class without students using their cellphones for something (very few of our classrooms are in computer labs). This knee-jerk reaction does not seem to me the right course of action as it doesn’t really even address the issue.

George Couros’ who had just spent some time at our School Board, also really got me thinking about Digital Leadership  How can we better enpower our students? At what age do we start?  How can we better tap into student voice to help us navigate this new frontier?

And the administrator at the school posed some very interesting questions as well.  What are the legal supports in place?  Is the solution petition the government to make Bill 13C more robust to include comments as well as images?  You only need to look at the controversy surrounding this Bill to know that there is no easy answer here.

Isn’t the bigger question, beyond technology and apps? How do we teach empathy to students and an understanding that an anonymous post can be just as hurtful–if not more so?  Shouldn’t teaching students Catholic Character mean we teach them to be the same person online and face to face?

I have invited the students from President’s Council to write a guest blog-post which I am hoping they will do.   I welcome your feedback and the sharing of your own experiences.