Thursday, June 28, 2012

Its a Whole New World

June 28, 2012

Today, I realized - I know very - very -very little about this "tech" stuff. Sure, I know more than most superintendents - no offense gang, but the truth is the positions of administrator and superintendent have evolved into something none of us anticipated.

For example, who could have known the impact Tony Orsini's decision would have when the Ridgewood, NJ principal attempted to 'ban social media' Reaction to Principal Banning Social Networking. The news media outlets pounced because, well simply that is what they do - they do recognize the impact a stand like Tony's would have in creating controversy. Sure in hindsight it is apparent that the decision was probably one he'd like to have back, but as a former middle school principal - I understand what he was trying to do.

When all of the social networks were first creeping into our lives, like anything new can often be, they were scary. Not to mention, principals were traditionally educated and trained in a much different environment. Many of us thought, "I did not sign on for this", when confronted with irate parents with a 100 page printout from Facebook where some individual(s) chose to do terrible things to another human being. In the beginning, we (principals) went to seminars where we were flat out told to push those types of complaints to the police department. We were instructed to tell the parents things like "that happened on your time" or "we can't get involved with online bullying". Fast forward to July 2012, like Disney's Aladin theme song in 1992 "Its a Whole New World" Anyone nostalgic for 1992
We have cyber bulling laws, guidelines, best practices, worst practices, mandatory trainings, and yes thankfully - we gained a loose handle on how to address the negative issues created by social media.

Today, it isn't enough to only have guidance on how to respond to the negative side of social media and technology tools - we need to figure out how to best maximize them to enhance the learning. I am not a supporter of using any of these things just to use them. There are amazing resources and examples of people doing this well. Many feel that although we might know now how to handle the misuse of technology and social media it is too risky to embrace these platforms to unlock the positive potential they have. This mindset would simply 'throw the baby out with the bath water' and turn off social media tools in our buildings. If we do, we risk not only turning off our students but we limit our own growth. As Tony Robbins says, "if you don't grow - you die". Perhaps you won't die literally, but you will miss out on the excitement of new adventures and people.

Just today, I learned that a "Flipped Classroom" Flipped Classroom 101 is not a vandalized school. And I have met amazing people - from all over - @web20classroom (thanks again Steve) that are very willing to share what they have learned. The PLN, or PPLN as I call it, the Personal [professional] learning network provides a person with resources to the infinite degree...

Lastly, I want to support Tony Orsini (whom I have never met). What I believe his actions did to elevate the conversation was of critical importance. We needed to argue both sides of the coin. Ultimately, I feel we learned that it is our job to educate the students (and parents if necessary) on how to use these powerful tools properly. For the administrators, it means we must also teach our staff members right from wrong - and hold them accountable for misuse while carefully keeping the window open for those who are using them properly.

For any superintendents who are still not embracing social media and connecting...time is ticking...the world [our world] changes more drastically each second. Plug in, open your mind- and explore the possibilities!

Dr. G