Sunday, December 11, 2011

Teachers Union Advice Protects Teachers Rather Than Prepares Students to Use Real World Tools

In a recent story on NPR, New Jersey teachers union spokesman Steve Wollmer became the latest to completely miss the point and give bonehead advice suggesting a variety of policies for teachers to follow when using social media.

His advice:
"Don't ever friend or follow your students on Facebook or Twitter, never post during work hours or use  work materials such as a school computer, and certainly never post anything about your job online, especially about students," Wollmer says. "I think that's where some of these teachers have found themselves in difficult situations."

Ignorant advice!!!
Someone needs to educate Wollmer and the teachers he is advising that social media doesn’t cause inappropriate behavior; it catches it.  

The story, Friendly Advice For Teachers: Beware Of Facebook features teachers who were caught being inappropriate. Is the teacher’s union head really suggesting that we don’t want to catch irresponsible educators? Is he suggesting teachers can’t be trusted to act appropriately so they should just stay away from using 21st century communication tools?  

Here is what the teachers were caught doing:
  • Union, N.J., high school teacher Viki Knox posted comments on her Facebook page about a gay history exhibit at the school suggesting it should be removed; she then urged her friends to pray and eventually called homosexuality a perverted sin.
  • In the Paterson, N.J., case, a judge ruled that teacher Jennifer O'Brien can be fired for calling her students future criminals on Facebook.
Do we really want these people teaching our children? Is the answer really telling teachers not to use social media or is it that teachers, who are intolerant and make disparaging comments about their students, should leave the profession

This is another case of a union trying to protect teachers that are not best for our children. Wollmer is suggesting educators do what will make his job easier rather than doing what is right for students who will need to know how to effectively use social media to succeed in the world.  After all, it’s social media that enabled our president to be elected into office and Egypt to have a revolution.  Social media is the top source for information and current events. It is also one of the most effective learning tools available to young people and teachers. Policymakers and educational leaders must stop keeping students prisoners of the past by disconnecting them from the tools that are a part of their everyday world.

Instead of Wollmer’s moronic advice, how about this advice from The Innovative Educator:

“Your students need you to connect to them in their worlds whether online or face to face.  Accept their friend requests.  Teach your students how to develop an appropriate digital footprint that will lead to their professional and social success.  Use social media during school hours with your students. Work with them to think critically about the message they are conveying online.  Help them use social media to develop their personal learning networks and connect with those who share their passions.  Remember that as a teacher it is your responsibility to serve as a guide and a mentor.  Model appropriate use and behavior online and in life.”

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