First off, I’d like to thank Dr. Alec Couros for a great second session at #dcmooc and Katia Hildebrandt and Joanne Saunders for the work they have done in gathering, organizing and sharing materials.
The prompts this week from the #dcmooc discussion focus on guiding students/children to develop the skills and means to become self-regulating, self-filtering, self-monitoring individuals who consume and create material in an ethical manner and are aware of the need to actively reach out and help others wherever they might be and the role the school has in helping them grow in these areas.
Where to start?
In a number of posts the idea of exploring the web and digital citizenship has, naturally, been the topic of discussion. Jade Balleck discusses our own growth in her post What do Our Students Need Us to Learn while Terry Johansen explores the idea of digital citizenship in The Ocean and the Tide and growth in his post Just like Nancy. Alisha Montieth explores moving to a new school and the opportunities that change provides and Michelle Pantel explores her journey to taking a MOOC. If you visit the dcmooc site you will find a growing number of links and blogs to resources dealing with digital citizenship. The hashtag #dcmooc is full of different comments, links, and posts dealing with the topic. All of this is excellent material but where does one start? How does one begin to plan or make sense of all this information?
There is no Manual
The picture that opens this post is of our family. When my wife and I started our journey together, we received a great deal of advice from many different people about how to have a successful marriage but no one was able to see into the future and tell us we would have eight children. Well, 25 years later, the one piece of advice that sticks out was given to us along with a tea kettle. It went something like this:
“It’s your story. You can listen to others but you have to make it your own. Take time to talk and listen to each other and reflect on where you have been together. It will help to guide you as you continue to go forward. You cannot stop the passage of time nor can you see into the future but you can use what you have learned to guide you through today and give you direction for tomorrow. Remember to Do Unto Others as You Would Have them Do to You, give to those who have less and always try your best. God will take care of the rest.
As a parent to eight children, I am very careful about giving out parenting advice. What works with one child may not with another as each is a unique individual. There is no manual to what will work on any given day. The key, from what I have learned, is to develop a relationship with your child so they can trust you and what you do. I don’t have a recipe because I don’t know if there is one except to love them unconditionally because that is how they love you.
As an educator and administrator, one important thing that I have learned is that what works with one group of students, or individual student, or parent, or staff member, may not work with another. The material and plans you have are only as good as the relationship you have with student(s), parents and staff. It’s great to have access to resources and other materials and to get ideas and advice about developing a plan. However, before diving headlong into the planning and all the rest, be sure to answer this question:
What is my relationship? On what do I base this relationship?
Okay, that was two questions. The answer will help you to decide what resources will work and what path to begin on. Remember that the path is not a set in stone and if you need to take yet another path, then do so. You don’t have to do it all – the best learning is when you discover things together, when students take on some of the role of teaching. Help them discover and tease out the answers to the questions. Guide them to find answers and to reflect on what they find. Yes, you can put up a poster and discuss it but having the students advocate and create materials that build a positive and welcoming school environment gives them ownership. Help them to become active citizens, working together with others in the school, community and around the globe.
Around the World in 192 Days
Many of you are familiar with the novel Around the World in 80 Days and the trip that takes place and the adventures that ensue. As an educator, you have approximately 192 or so days with your students to make that voyage, to explore the world. How you do that will partially be guided by you but it should also be guided by the students and their desire to learn. Along the way will be a great number of opportunities to explore what it means to be a citizen in a number of different contexts. I believe this is the place to start. Each year, exploring and learning about being a global citizen. Making the world out to be a scary place filled with danger and fear doesn’t help them to develop the necessary skills to filter and decide, decode, interpret, analyze, create, remix and remaster the world they encounter. Maybe we do need to rephrase the question about the learning as Jade did in her piece – What do Our Students Need Us to Learn, because, no matter what we decide, the students will grow up and move on and, ultimately our goal is to help them
develop the skills and means to become self-regulating, self-filtering, self-monitoring individuals who consume and create material in an ethical manner and are aware of the need to actively reach out and help others wherever they might be
so, eventually, they can move out on their own.