This week I was faced with having some difficult conversations around pedagogy and what it means to prepare our students to be successful on state assessments. This is a topic that amongst teachers can be rooted in deep beliefs of what is best for our students and what will serve them in the future. Following these conversations and listening to many different points of view I was left with one final very simple question, what “content” do I remember from Middle School Science? And the answer is nothing… So that left me thinking what did I take away from that experience? As I spent some time reflecting on this very question I began to think about Middle School students today and the knowledge and skills that they are going to need to be successful. And to be perfectly honest I don’t think it has much to do with spouting off the science facts they learned in 6th grade.
Many of the jobs we are preparing our students for do not exist today. Furthermore, many of the facts we hold true today will not be true in 20 years. Ultimately, we need to provide our students with the skills they need to navigate and curate digital information on their own. We really need to be thinking less about the “content” that we are embarking on our students and more about building their capacity to become digital citizens of the world.
So that leads me to this weeks assignment around Social Networking and Digital Citizenship. The big “aha” that I had this week was to be mindful and purposeful when teaching students how to navigate the digital world and what it means to be a good digital citizen. This means that I should be crafting a policy like this in concert with my students and helping them to define digital etiquette. To me it means treating others with respect though how you communicate your words and ideas online. It also means that I need to be equitable for all of my students and ensure that each one of them is able to use digital tools in the classroom. It means that I am teaching them how to be responsible when online. Finally, how am I ensuring that my students are safe and secure while they are online.
Moving forward I am committed to continuing to engage in difficult conversations like this week in an effort to shift teacher practice and enact change in the way we think about preparing our students to be 21st century citizens. I am committed to preparing my students to be successful in college and career. I believe that all of this starts with building a digital citizenship.