I had a funny evening with a couple friends the other night. They were friends before our conversation started. I can only hope they all are now, or, will be by the time this is Tweeted. It started with a comment from Friend#1 that he enjoyed my tweets from a recent P.D. experience I had had. Friend#BanSocialMedia jumped in with a “You tweet during meetings? That is rude!” There was some silence at the table from Friend#1 and Friend#4 (a high school I.T. department teacher). The conversation quickly lead to “Friend#BanSocialMedia”‘s expectations, complaints and comments about his students’ level of engagement in his history class. Now let me just say, this teacher is a great teacher. He loves his students. He stays current. He pushes the envelope. He is leading the education reform movement in his school if not in his district. Sans social media technology. He absolutely detests student cellphone use in his class. So . . . he has procured the specifications for his own “cell-phone jammer” and is in the process of manufacturing one.
Insert laughter here.
“Instead of swimming upstream why not harness the power, knowledge and expertise that your students already have?” I asked rhetorically. “I can teach you in five minutes how to run a cellphone, text back channel that could add in your delivery, provide by the minute feedback to you, engage your audience deeper and make you the talk of the lunch table from now until 2018!”
“Are you crazy?” was his response to me. “Cellphones are the worst things in schools. We banned them. I hate them.”
From here on out Friend#1 interjected to keep the peace, Friend #4 took notes on his cellphone and the band played on.
I kinda went “soapbox” on my friend. I asked questions like “Why are you denying me my learning? Because of my learning style?” and “are you afraid of the feedback you will get?” and “would you take away a students pencil when he was taking notes?” I admit, it got kind of ugly. I finished with a statement. “If the students are talking about what to do on the weekend, fights at lunch and who is dating who, give them something even better to text about: Your teaching methods, your expertise and your efforts to reach them in a medium that they all get and love. Tell them to follow your blog and follow your twitter account . . . then pump their heads full of historical fact that is more like fiction. Give them stuff they won’t believe and then they will try to prove you wrong by doing some of their own research. Ah . . . the old Jedi Teacher Trick, get them to learn when they think they are having fun. ”
I am sorry Friend#BanSocialMedia. I went over the edge. Please watch the video, continue your incredible work and consider buying a cellphone, engaging in some social learning yourself and with your students. Having an experienced opinion will give you much integrity with your students. I am sure you have taught history and World War II! You know what “cellphone jammers” and denying the public voice pangs of.
Sorry for that last one. I am refusing lately to take the passive way out. Our kids, my own children are worth it. When we refuse to meet students half way we do nothing to close the teaching – learning gap. Instead of investing in a “cellphone jammer” why not take a leap and allow the kids to answer questions, pose arguments and ask questions via a texting back channel. Come on . . . give it a try. The kids are going to jam your jammer anyway. Learning is supposed to be fun. If we don’t make it so . . . those darned kids will!