What social media are you on, and what will I learn about you when I go there?

If you posed these questions to your students, what kinds of responses would you get?  Would students, deep down, be proud of who they are or would they be embarrassed…maybe even a little ashamed?  What if this was a question that an interviewer asks a student when they are applying for a job, a scholarship, or to get into college?  Would he/she be ready to answer?

There is a misconception in the world that “these kids” are good with technology.  While they may be better than we are in using technology, they have a loooong way to go when it comes to using it properly.  You hear a lot about being a good digital citizen.  Jennifer Casa-Todd wants us to take it a step further.  She says we should be teaching our students to be digital leaders.  She has written a book, Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership, that speaks to this belief.  It is not enough to be a good citizen…we want our students to be leaders!

“Digital Leadership – Using the vast reach of technology, especially the use of social media, to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.”

George Couros, 2013

It is not an easy task, and many will argue that this does not fall under our “jurisdiction” as a teacher of the curriculum, but we are here to do what’s best for our students and to prepare them for what lies ahead.  We need to take on some of this responsibility.

We do not need to be giving full blown lessons either.  Find a few minutes here and there to ask some good discussion questions.  Use social media in your class. Create accounts for your classroom and model appropriate behavior.  Take a minute or two to create a social media post for the day that summarizes what was discussed in your class. Discuss what should be in it and why.

Keep in mind that when talking to students that we are not there to judge. We are there to inform and guide them to a better understanding of what being a responsible digital leader is. It is easy for all of us to jump to conclusions when we see students with their phones out.  Take this image for example.  I was shown this in a training. What is the first thing you think when you see this?


I know my knee-jerk reaction was something like this, “They are sitting right next to each other! Put the phones down…”

The presenter then showed the image along with the text that accompanied the tweet…

bb tweet

Before jumping to conclusions about the use of technology when students are on their devices, let’s find out what they are doing first.  A good tactic you can try…when approaching a student who is on a phone/device, ask if it is helping them or distracting them. If they answer distracting, then they make the choice to put it up.

Not sure where to start?  Here is a video you can show to get the conversation started…