Focusing on What Students Can Do

I had the privilege of speaking to middle school and high school students on the notion of “Digital Leadership”, which I wrote a definition for in 2013:

Using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.

As I started the presentation, I asked the question, “How many of you had the talk on cyberbullying?”

It was pretty much 100%.

I followed up with, “How many of you have heard the talk on cyberbullying 3 or more times?”

Again, almost 100%.

Then I asked, “How many of you are sick of hearing about cyberbullying?”

The last answer looked very similar to the first two.

Think about it…How inspired would you be if you were constantly told what not to do? In fact, brought into a gymnasium as a group, and then told what not to do.  I really don’t blame kids for feeling annoyed.  Of course we want students to be good to each other, but the majority of them will do that.  We teach too much focusing on the few, and not the majority.

What I try to do is share stories of students who are making a difference right now! Like this teen who created the “Sit With Us” app, to help students find welcoming students to join during lunch. Or the 9 year old, “Little Miss Flint”, becoming a voice of a city and educating people about the water crisis in her city of Flint, Michigan.  Both of these young people are not waiting to become the leaders of tomorrow; they are grabbing these opportunities today.

Our goal as educators should that these stories are not the exception, but the norm. By raising the bar and our expectations for our students, we are more likely to get there than by simply telling them what they should not do.

As I have learned from students before…



Below is a one minute video that I shared on Twitter regarding my experience with students.


Source: George Couros