“It takes a village to raise a child.”
This mentality has guided my teaching for a long time, both as motivation and consolation. I’ve got another post brewing about mentors and teaching children and young people to seek guidance, but for now, let’s just think about this idea. Without dredging out dichotomies of size, pace, depth & safety, let’s just agree that our “village” is obviously a very different place today to what it has been in the past. As an educator I can tap into the expertise of professionals and experts worldwide to help my students learn, I can connect with colleagues and their students to learn together from different cultural perspectives, and it is my duty to contribute to my students’ implicit and guiding understandings of what it means to be an ethical participant and contributor to “village life.”
While I’ve been riding the rollercoaster of relief/substitute/supply teaching across a multitude of education systems, accents, and standard forms of English, I’ve been filling my spare time with making music and learning stuff with the possibility of a slight career shift in mind. It’s occurred to me while delving into the buzz driving the marketing & social media industries that this is yet another opportunity for schools to learn from the corporate world.
Step into any staffroom in a school moving towards a student-centred ubiquitous technology environment and you’ll hear discussions of content delivery, assessment options, online tools, information literacies, inquiry learning and management of connected students.
But what do we hear most often from parents in discussions of learning technologies?
“He loves to go on the computer.”
“I’m useless with technology!”
“The kids are really good with it, they’re so fast!”
This has concerned me for a long time. One part parental heads in the sand, one part schools failing to capitalise on the fact that they have one of the only environments in society that boasts a ready-made engaged community. Sure, we communicate with parents by calling them or sending a note home if their children achieve particularly well or particularly poorly. Sure, we send a newsletter every week or fortnight. Big brands blog at least a couple of times a week, and tweet several times a day. The potential in schools to actually get students involved in this community management process is immense. If that’s not an authentic learning experience I don’t know what is.
It’s time to stop keeping parents outside the village fence, and engage them in the same discussions that happen during school time. The parents that are already interested will thrive on it. The parents who are already a little bit reticent will start to feel better informed.
So… I’ve got a bit of time on my hands, any of you schools out there want to hire a Community Manager?