Friday, March 4, 2011

Comments for Teachers Summary 2

Hale Library                                  Image via WikipediaThe educator I followed this month was Bill Genereux, who is an Assistant Professor of Computer Systems Technology at Kansas State University at Salina. He teaches things I know little of: web development, networking, computer programming and digital media technologies. However, I found his blog insightful and very pertinent to my life as an educator in general. Both of the blogs I commented on had to do with technology in a teacher’s life.

Image via Bill Genereux
The first blog spoke about being “unfriended” on Facebook for advising a fellow teacher friend that although he saw nothing wrong with the pictures she had posted holding an adult beverage, there was a Georgia teacher fighting for her job after being let go by her school for nearly the same exact photo. After warning her of the dangers, her response was to “chew (him) out and unfriend (him.)” The actual point of the blog was not this unnecessary unfriending, but that what we post on-line, even with “private” settings can still be found and affect us. Even after being unfriended, Mr. Genereux was able to find the photo of this teacher drinking and included it in his post. He advocated for schools to find a happy-medium between schools telling teachers to avoid Facebook and teachers adding and becoming too friendly with their students on Facebook, although he admitted “I think we are all still sorting things out.” Finally, he included this video, which I thought was “just plain cool.”

My response to this blog, which asked at the end, “Does any of this sound familiar to you? Have you experienced disconnects in your online communications between what was meant and what was understood? How are you addressing the impact of technology on your life and your profession?” is as follows:

Wow. It’s so interesting that I was assigned your blog for my EDM310 C4T this week. I just had a similar conversation with my biology professor tonight. He said he does not add any of his students or youth group kids to his Facebook because it is too easy to let lines blur as you become less professional with your students. One of my friends who moved to Texas to teach took her Facebook page down because her school district “highly recommended” it. I agree completely that it is too easy to say “too much.” Although I agree some districts do take it too far as with the example of the teacher losing her job because of a Facebook photo, teachers should be held to some degree of professionalism. I do my best to limit my Facebook page to family and people I have actually been more than acquaintances with at some point. I am also trying to reserve my Twitter account for professional network building since EDM310 requires us to use it for such. Thanks for sharing this post, and the video, which was just plan cool. I hope the young teacher wises up before it is too late for her and she is like the Georgia teacher.
In the second post I commented on, Mr. Genereux spoke about a retiring Kansas school teacher who was recorded by a student of him and another student in an altercation. He brings up two main points: 1) “Teachers from previous generations have operated under the assumption that a classroom is a pretty private place, but that is no longer a realistic assumption.” 2) I believe that when schools ban cell phones, ban social media, and ban sites like YouTube, it helps create an environment ripe for stories such as this.” Again, while he did not condone the teacher’s actions, he felt the school was also partially to blame due to their electronic device policy. He talks about how if the schools and teachers were not so against technology in the classroom then perhaps events like this would not happen. Not only would the teachers be less likely to lose their cool, but students would be less likely to misbehave knowing their actions are being seen as well. In this case, he states the student’s provocation of the teacher was not shown. Not to mention, schools need to incorporate technology regardless. Teachers can use this incorporation to teach students appropriate use and etiquette of technology. My response to his post follows:

Mr. Genereux:
It is sad that this teacher is so close to retirement and now will have nothing if he was just having an off day. One of my friends working on her student teaching complained on facebook yesterday about unruly students and her frustration with how to discipline them. I do not know the answer. I mostly tried pulling the student aside and speaking to them about how I wanted to help them not make their life more difficult and how them fighting me did not help. However, this only helped about half of the time. That being said, I have thought about setting up a camcorder of some sort for mine and my students’ benefit. It definitely would keep me on my toes as a teacher. I hope it would also keep my students on their best behavior. Another benefit would be the ability to upload the day’s class so that absent students could view it so they would not have to miss anything. I am not certain what MCPSS’s policy is on this (if I ever get a job with them), but I think there could be a lot of benefits. Of course, I have concerns about doing such a thing with editing capabilities. I know the majority of the time things are blown way out of proportion due to “selective showing” of coverage by media. As you pointed out, the student was out of line here as well, but very few non-teachers will think of this I’m sure.
I have one more legitimate concern with allowing cellphone use by students. Texting. When I was teaching in an alternative school, I spent more time asking students to put away their cellphones because they were texting and not paying attention to their work than any other disciplinary issue. I am not against using technology in the classroom, and even allowed students who were capable of doing their work while listening to iPods or mp3 players to do so. I tried implementing videos and other devices into my lectures until the higher ups deemed I could not bring my laptop into the class. Texting is the only problem I ever had with having technology in the classroom. I just do not know how to get around this without banning cellphone use. Do you have this issue? How do you propose we allow cellphones without this distraction?
I have throughly enjoyed being assigned to your blog. You always have great insight to the problems facing educators and school systems. Your blog is now part of my PLN!
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