I've spent the past couple of days working with principals to strategize on how they can be effective campus leaders in the area of Digital Citizenship. These were two very rewarding days! We have a fabulous set of principals in my district, and they engaged in some wonderful discussion about how to get their teachers, parents, and students on board with a culture of positive norms. Many thanks to Nancy Willard and her wonderful web site Embrace Civility in the Digital Age for the information she has assembled and to Common Sense Media for their outstanding materials.
We started each session discussing the Digital Citizenship Survival Kit, and how principals might use those props in a staff meeting or with students. Principals then had the opportunity to learn about different resources including the Common Sense Media site at various grade levels, Common Sense's Digital Passport, the Google/YouTube Digital Citizenship Curriculum, and this great guide to teaching students about their digital footprint. They then taught the other class members what they had learned. Before they left, I asked them to make a commitment to carry out a specific objective, and I got great responses! From including Digital Citizenship in their School Improvement Plan to creating campus PLCs and incorporating DC lessons into Advisory or Homeroom classes - I am PUMPED!
We talked about how highways used to be strewn with litter, until an education campaign turned people's attitudes around; now it is completely socially unacceptable to just hurl trash out the window as you're driving along. Same with seat belts - how many of us remember riding along on the back dashboard of our parents' cars, until education and public awareness (and the law) made seat belts mandatory? Now we all buckle up without really thinking about it. ATT's "It Can Wait" campaign will undoubtedly have a very positive effect, in time, on reducing accidents caused by texting and driving. I'm convinced that we adults can have a similar positive impact on students' online behaviors by working to establish, with the active participation of our students, the positive "Cyber Savvy" norms at each school that will allow our kids get to get online safely, manage their digital reputations, understand the indefinite shelf life of a text or tweet, and respond appropriately to cyberbullying.
Sounds like a daunting task, but with the outstanding leaders I worked with yesterday and today, I believe we'll soon be turning out some equally outstanding digital citizens.