My favorite thing about this course so far has been the opportunity to work with others; sharing ideas, teaching, learning and laughing. This time, Mr. Norris, Mr Baker, Ms. Hosoi and I worked with our High School principal to develop some guidlines for publishing on the Internet and in printed form. We wanted the guidlines to be clear, positive and relevant to teachers and students alike. I think that we have succeeded in sending a positive message about the importance of the thinking before posting things on the internet.
Our next step is produce the poster as a way of promoting digital citizenship in our school. We’re hoping that it will start some discussions in the classroom but also in the staffroom and that generally people will just become more aware of the things to consider when publishing work.
I think the best way to promote digital citizenship in our school is to model the practices ourselves. Once we have acted appropriately we can discuss how and why we acted in that manner. I think the school will need to take a more formal and structured approach too but this will certainly help to get that conversation started.
The idea of developing a brand for myself is difficult one. Choosing something to represent me is a big deal. Before I can accurately brand myself I need to consider who I am. The problem is that I am many people. I am Joy the wife, Joy the daughter, Joy the friend, Miss Seed to the kids, Seedy to my friends, Joyous, Joyful, Joy Joy and Joie are also names that I answer to. Trying to balance all of these roles and identities is difficult in real life so it’s no wonder that I’m finding this hard.
I blogged previously about wanting to take my digital presence one step further by developing my blog to become mine, not just a requirement of the course. I want my blog to be one that my students can access and contribute to, my colleagues can learn from, the parents of my students can be informed by and one that other interested teachers can benefit by. I guess that means that my brand should be related to my work identity and my content should school related. I think that this is a good start but I don’t really know what to do next.
Luckily for me, the article ‘Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Brand’ helped me to figure out my next step. It said that “Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan.” I don’t know that I can figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life but I can certainly set some goals, consider my vision and make a personal brand statement. Here goes, I would like to blog weekly about things that are happening in my classroom. I hope to focus on the technology that students are using but not exclusively. I will try to use technologies new to me in my posts and that will help me to be continually learning and give me an audience to show off my newly developed skills. I already have a blog but I would like to spend some time developing so that it reflects my teacher identity more. Hmmmmm, what is my teacher identity? Now I’m stuck again.
Currently my blog is titled ‘Teaching and Learning’. I chose that title because I strongly believe in the idea of teachers as learners and the blog is a way for me to learn so I wanted to include it in the title. I think I want to change this to include my name and then use the same title as my name on twitter. I don’t expect to be a leader or have a lot of followers online but I would like to contribute to the community of educators there because I have benefited so much from their articles, posts and tweets.
I guess that I have gone a little further down the road of developing a brand for myself. I hope that by blogging, my brand will sort of organically develop and I’ll find my niche and audience over time. I don’t think that this something that I can manufacture over night but I am looking forward to spending time with my online self and developing a voice that will stay a part of me for a long time to come.
My life and the Internet are gradually becoming more and more intertwined. I used to rely on my husband to direct me to places but Google Maps has given me my independence. I stay in touch with people by ‘friending’ them on Facebook and I follow the events of the world as they happen on Twitter. I use Google Docs to collaborate with colleagues and students and my Google Reader provides me with stimulating reading that develops me professionally. I use Amazon to shop and have not stepped into a travel agent or bought a paperback in years. I watch my favorite shows by streaming them over the Internet and my music comes from online radio stations. More and more I find it hard to imagine life without the Internet.
Image by Wellington Grey
So why has the Internet so successfully permeated my life? http://www.smallpieces.com/content/preface.html says it well when it highlights that the web has changed not just my life but the very fabric of society itself. It has given us a new way to satisfy our natural desires to make connections, networks and communities. This natural desire to make connections was also highlighted in the 6 Degrees of Separation where it is noted that “not only are we connected, but we live in a world in which no one is more than a few handshakes from anyone else. That is, we live in a small world. Our world is small because society is a very dense web. We have far more friends than the critical one needed to keep us connected.
It is not surprising then that the ability to make quick, fluid and easy connections with people, ideas and documents on the Internet is the basis for its success and the reason for my life becoming more and more enveloped by it. Hyperlinks really are at the heart of the web and the major contributing factor to its success. So how can I harness the power of the Internet to make me a better educator, not just a more efficient shopper, travel agent, navigator and viewer?
I believe that WordPress is the most practical answer to my question. By maintaining a blog I am practicing all of the skills that I hope to pass on to my students. I am generating content, connecting with other educators, considering the implications of publishing names, images, videos and opinions, interacting with vimeo, youtube, flickr and other publishing communities, generating a positive digital presence, strengthening my ability to comment and respond to other peoples’ work and playing with my brand or online identity. All of these things are things that I would feel privileged to develop in my students.
Now that I am convinced of the value in maintaining a professional blog, I am going to push myself to transfer this blog and make it not just another COETAIL Blog. I am also going to play with the widgets available to me and consider designing a look that suits my teacher identity. I am going to aim to continue to write about my experiences in the classroom and my professional development but also expand it to be something that my students can read and comment on and something that reflects my day to day experiences in the classroom. I have to thank misternorris for inspiring me to take this path. I so enjoy reading about what he is doing with the students and what he is learning about. His site has had a big impact on my decision to go down this road. Watch this space.
All too often the community at large expects the local schools to act as welfare officers, career guidance councilors, dietitians, police officers, moral guidance officers and the holders to the key of knowledge. While I see my job as an educator as involving aspects from all of the above, I certainly cannot successfully fulfill all of these roles single handedly. I believe that rather than place the responsibility for the upbringing of children solely at the door of the local school; the entire community should be involved in the education of a child. We are all responsible for teaching young people their civic duties, responsibilities and rights.
Not surprisingly, in order to be responsible students online, children need the same values and skills required to be responsible citizens in the real world. So what makes a good citizen and how do these skills transfer to their digital identities? I believe that responsible citizens are active and informed with shared values of freedom, tolerance, respect, responsibility and inclusion. Funnily enough, these are the very same values that are reflected in the NETS-S.
The introduction of technology has not redefined what it is to be a responsible and successful citizen, nor has it changed the fundamental cause of bullying. Obviously the introduction of technology has introduced new challenges for educators (the speed at which news and communications can travel and mobilize, the false sense of anonymity an online identity can offer and an unprecedented level of access to others) but bullying itself is not new and the solution is the same as always – education. Everybody who talks to a child is responsible for modeling positive communication, every teacher in every school is responsible for helping children to see things from other peoples’ perspective and every parent is responsible for reinforcing the importance of positive peer relationships. By working together to teach young people the importance of truth, freedom, tolerance, respect, inclusion and the balance between rights and responsibilities we will be working together to produce active and informed citizens both in the real world and the digital one.