I recently received an email and was asked a question that I get all of the time. With the promotion of students using social media, what do you if something goes wrong (meaning students swear or say something inappropriate)?
How I always answer this to give people piece of mind, is by saying, “The one thing that I can guarantee, 100%, is that something will go wrong at some point. What is more important is how you handle it? Will you see this as a teachable moment or will you react and shut everything down?”
Obviously there are different levels of what could happen, but the idea that we shut something down because of our fears of what could happen, as opposed to looking at the possibilities of what we can do is really holding back of our students. Anyone can write down inappropriate messages with a pencil, yet I have never seen a mass exodus of that tool in schools because of the fear of what could happen.
The best approach, is always a proactive one. Working with students at a young age to understand the impact of what they share, both positive and negative, will only come from an understanding of using social media ourselves. Fear often comes from a lack of knowledge, rarely an abundance.
I was reminded of this quote that I heard a student say this year, and feel it is relevant to this conversation.
“Social media is like water because it is everywhere in our life. We can ignore it and watch kids drown, or we can teach kids how to swim. Which way are you going to go?”
Understanding that in all learning, things go wrong and people make mistakes. Guarding them from this doesn’t prepare them for the future, let alone the present. We can no longer hold back students because of our fears of what could go wrong, but lead by focusing on what could go right. The probability of something amazing and powerful happening increases tremendously when we focus on making the positive, as opposed to hiding from the possible negatives.