In our bid to have happy kids, I wonder what we might be robbing from them later in life?

This is another reflection on the lessons learnt about education from being a parent. This time it is the importance of trust.


At the swimming centre where my daughters have lessons there are two instructors who walk around while the lessons are on. They serve a number of roles. Whether it be providing suggestions to support the development of the swimmers, coordinating lessons and overseeing the safety of those in the pool.

During a recent lesson, one of the instructors came and spoke with me about my youngest daughter. She said that she wanted to move her up to the next class. Out of interest, I asked her why. She explained that she felt my daughter would benefit from being with older students and no longer needed the shallow pool. She then asked if that was ok with that?

I was a little taken aback by the question. I was fine with my daughter moving up. I was also fine if she stayed in the group she was currently in. The reality is that in this situation, I can only trust those in and out of the pool. Although I may ask where my daughter’s development is at and whether there is anything my wife and I could do to support her, I do not feel there is anything achieved in questioning the decision of the educators at hand.

I feel the same way about the classroom. In today’s age of fear, we worry about the ‘best’ teacher and the effect size associated with the ‘right’ teacher. I remember working in country town a few years ago where parents would move their children to a different school if they got the ‘wrong’ teacher. The problem I have is that sometimes the best teacher is a supported teacher. My daughter’s classroom teacher will often spend more time with her than my wife and I. In my opinion hovering around a teacher or the school creates an situation of stress and anxiety for all involved. I love how Dan Haesler captures this in regards to protecting children from any sort of risk:

Dan Haesler's take on helicopter parenting

I think we need to trust teachers rather than moving students around the market. Maybe this is just me? Maybe in time I may change my mind? As always, thoughts welcome.


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I was lucky enough to recently attend a session run by Claire Sutherland for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation around the topic of ‘safe schools‘. I have worked with AMF before in regards to eSmart. Today’s focus was on the trends, policies and resources to support schools around cybersafety. Personally, I have mixed feelings about cybersafety as a topic, as there are some who approach it from the perspective of fear. So here are some of my notes and observations on the presentation …

Issues

When it comes to children and technology, there are a number of issues to consider:

In regards to schools and liability, It is important to understand that if you are aware of an issue, you are responsible. In Victoria, this is covered in the PROTECT Guidelines.

3Cs

For the Alannah and Madeline Foundation cybersafety can be broken down into three aspects:

  • Contact: Do you appreciate who you are sharing with? There is a difference between a ‘friend’ and a ‘follower’, while many of our connections come via acquaintances. We may think that we are not providing much information online, however once we work across multiple platforms, people (and computers) can easily join the dots and develop quite an extensive profile.
  • Conduct: How do you act when you are online? Do you THINK before you post, that is do you consider if what you are sharing is ‘True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind’. Research says that 1:5 students have been involved in cyberbullying online. The challenge is to look out for one another, respecting the rights of others. One suggestion is to ask before tagging, especially in regards to changes in regards to auto-tagging within Google Photos.
  • Content: What information do you share online? Is it personal or private? How authentic is it? How positive is your digital footprint? What is your response to fake news and surreptitious advertising? To plagarism, is it constructive? This can all be challenging as we move into a world that no longer forgets. Something captured by Black Mirror where everyone’s experiences are captured all of the time or we are continually judged by everything that happens in our life.

Associated with the 3C’s, there are four different types of spaces: messaging app, social media, games and dating apps. What entices students is whether they are free, accessible, social and allow experimentation. Constantly changing, these spaces are a part of the yo-yo craze where students move when adults move in.

Challenges

Some of the challenges associated with cybersafety include: raising awareness with parents, teachers and students, monitor the use of technology, building online resilience and empathy, celebrating the positive, as well as empowering bystanders to stand up by providing anonymous reporting systems. To be proactive, schools need to be as explicit as possible when it comes to policy. This means it does not matter which teacher is consulted. Associated with all this, it is important to document issues when they arise.

Resources

Here are a collection of resources – both from the session and some links of my own – to go further in regards to cyber safety and digital citizenship:


So what about you? What are you doing to make school safer? Are there any tips, tricks or resources that you would share? As always, comments welcome.


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

In a recent post, Matt Esterman looked back on what he has learned this year. He touched on the lessons learned professionally, as an entrepreneur and personally. He ended with an invitation to share the lessons that you have learned this year.

For me, a lot has happened this year. I have watched in amazement as our youngest daughter has developed from a baby to a toddler. I remember being caught up by every stage with our eldest, but with two life seems to fly.

In addition to this, I changed jobs. After spending a quarter of my life at my previous school, I decided to completely change tact. Not only did I move sectors, but I also went from the role of a classroom teacher to being a technology implementation coach located in a central office.

The area in which I have learned the most though is as a parent of a school age child. It is not that our daughter had not been to kindergarten, but the step up into primary school has been steep. Going from a center with fifty students to a school with near on a thousand has brought about its own set of challenges. I think that there has been three distinct lessons:

  • Dual Roll: I am so glad that my daughter did not start at the school I taught at. I have found the balance between teacher and parent really interesting, in particular online. It is not that I haven’t had a dual roll before, being both a member of the community, as well as a local educator. This was especially the case in the country. What I have learned is that connections are always complicated.
  • Empathy: I have worked in Prep classes before and supported various teachers in a number of ways. However, there is something uncanny when it is your child and you live with them every day. I feel a deeper sense of appreciation for Prep teachers and the various challenges faced.
  • Communication: A few years ago I was lucky enough to attend Google Teachers Academy (now the Google Certified Innovator Program). I left with the question, how might we engage parents in a cultural shift to make relationships and connections the focus of learning? I had toyed with creating a website to communicate ideas with the community, but had always felt constrained in going further. My daughter’s school have seemingly taken up this challenge by maintaining a Facebook Page for every class. However, where have I been? Although my wife loves it, I barely get on it, refusing to go on Facebook on my phone, actually refusing to go on Facebook much at all. In addition to this, I am unsure of the expectations within this space. Am I meant to comment? Converse with others? Like? What this has taught me is that communication and connections involve more than just a website and at some point need to be made explicit.

So that is me and some of the lessons learned this year. I am not trying to suggest that those without children could not experience these things. They are my experiences and I would argue that they are unique to my situation.

So what about you? What have you learned this year? As always, feel free to share.


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