C2W5: Becoming

How do your school’s policies/agreements empower stakeholders to make positive contributions to local and global communities?

My school’s policy empowers stakeholders to make positive contributions to local and global communities by stating that:

  • digital tools will be used to connect with others in an empathetic and culturally sensitive way
  • while exploring local and global issues, collaborative technologies will be used to investigate solutions
  • issues will be examined from multiple viewpoints and to keep an open mind when collaborating with others.

There are no specific criteria about not allowing students to use social media or restricting access to sites. The policies are open ended and broad, focusing on:

  • respecting each other,
  • clear communication,
  • responsibility to engage in positive and safe activities, and
  • collaborating constructively and effectively

The policy has a statement at the bottom that states items are adapted from ISTE’s standards for students. I think this is appropriate and more aware of digital citizenship than some of the policies mentioned on Rethinking AUPs (McLeod).

There are child protection items (i.e. posting student pictures on social media sites) that were reviewed with staff but these aren’t published to the greater community. They also aren’t easily accessible to staff. I think this information should be more clearly stated and in a more accessible place for staff and community members to view.

How do you/your school share these documents with the school communities? How do you/your school’s actions show that you fully believe in and live these documents?

At the beginning of a the school year, the students sign a contract about the Responsible Use Policy (RUP) after viewing a presentation and completing a few activities.

I couldn’t find the RUP published on the school’s website or available online to people who are in the community but outside the school network. It is mentioned in the student handbook but not actually included.

The information about technology included in the student handbook is limited to serious offenses like cyber bullying and how off-campus posts can still impact student life on campus.

From my personal view point; the RUP allows educators the opportunity to create meaningful projects for students and for students to be able to connect with others in the community and globally.

As long as they follow these guidelines, they should have the foundation to be ready to participate in online culture.

How did you learn to be empathetic? How have you supported your students in becoming more empathetic?

I’m unsure how I learned to empathetic. I guess I always imagined what it would be like to live in someone else’s shoes (on Sesame street). I also read a lot. I think reading allows the reader to experience many different ideas and feelings.

I have supported my students in being more empathetic by buying books for my in class library that have diverse perspectives. I have also read Have you Filled You Bucket today? by Carol McCould to my students and reminded them that the easiest way to feel happier is to help someone else fill their bucket by doing something to help them.

My school organizes a One book One School (OBOS) reading every spring. The whole middle school reads the same book and then students and staff attend book discussions and activities every other day. The hope is that by reading the same novel, we can connect on themes expressed in the novel with not only peers but with older/younger students and staff/students we don’t know that well. We have read Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Holes by Louis Sachar. This sound similar to The Global Read Aloud (GRA). Perhaps in the future the MS can expand OBOS to GRA. They have a solid Twitter and Facebook presence. We could probably even do both as the GRA begins in the fall and OBOS begins in the spring.

I think overall, staff and students can be more empathetic by ACTIVELY participating more in the community and globally. We need to move from consuming media and being bystanders to creating media and being upstanders. This was further compounded while watching Extracurricular empowerment (McLeod, TEDxDesMoines) and The disarming case to act right now on climate change (Greta Thunberg).

My students love to research. Researching is a good first step but they need the confidence and the framework to DO.

I see this in science. When they have to plan and carry out an investigation; students will explain what they would do. They would research their investigation question to find the answer on Google and then present it. They are consuming information and, I think, very happy that they think they are learning so much.

What I see: no test design or list of materials they need to do their investigation, and no description of success criteria. They aren’t using their skills like how to ask a good question and develop a model to show their current understanding in order to start generating ideas to plan their investigation.

They aren’t using concepts like identifying patterns or recognizing cause and effect relationships in order to describe what their success criteria could be.

Being empathetic is a skill and a skill implies action, doing. From my perspective, students need more focus on recognizing and using the connection between skills and content knowledge.

How can being empathetic help students with their learning?

Reading about what’s happening in American cities convinces me that empathy is needed; it needs to be practiced, it needs to be modeled, and rules need to change in order for empathy to be the chosen action of the majority. As Greta Thunberg said in her TedX video, The disarming case to act right now on climate change, we need change; “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to be changed. “.

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