Saturday, August 6, 2011

Walking the Walk

This is the video from Day 2 of the #140EDU Conference that was held in New York. There were many amazing speakers, but I want you, the administration of my district, to jump ahead to the 1:14:30 mark and listen to Eric Sheninger. Eric is the principal of New Milford High School in New Jersey. In 2009, he was against all Social Media in his school. Today, he is one of the biggest advocates of Social Media in Education. He has some exciting things to say.

I've met Eric a few times at conferences and he is just as passionate in person as he is on stage. He has given me great advice on how to use Social Media in my class and I think he makes some great points. To be honest, he makes so many great points I cannot go into all of them here. I will point out a few that I think we should be doing and can do ASAP.


Eric talked about the old way to communicate with the community. Snail mail and websites are not reaching the people they need to reach. Twitter and Facebook are great and free ways to reach parents and students. While we have a district Twitter account and one high school has an account, why not everyone? Why shouldn't every school have a Twitter account that can send out updates on the great things that are happening during the day? Are there sporting event today? Tweet out the information to the community.

Facebook is a place where our families, friends and students spend time. Why not have school Facebook accounts? You can connect Twitter to Facebook so updates are posted directly on the Facebook wall after you send a tweet. If we really want to reach out to the community and share information with them, we should be striving to put the information in places that people can find it instead of burying on a page on a website.

It's free. What are we waiting for?

Public Relations

Right now, everyone else is writing the story on education accept schools. Nobody is going to hear about the great things classroom teachers do every day if the school doesn't support. Why not recognize some of the amazing students, teachers and administrators in the district? Show off the amazing things that happen every day. We want the community to know about the amazing things going on and we shouldn't have to rely on Patch or other news sources to do it for us. Why are schools afraid to spread the good word?

Student Engagement

I want to end on Student Engagement because I think it is one of the most important elements of this speech. Eric says that his students are excited to come to class and use the tools that he has helped bring into the school. He says that math scores have gone up in one group of students. Not because there was technology, but sound pedagogy infused with social media and technology.

Now is the time to stop banning and blocking. We need to move to a more open technology policy and support the teachers and students that are excited to to try and do new things. My Assistant Supt has been pushing to do some different things and that gives me hope, but we need everyone on board. The question everyone would should ask their administration is why not? Why do we not share great things with the community? Why do we want others to control our image? These are the important questions as we move forward.

The time for talk is over.

If we truly want to be a leader in education technology, we need to walk the walk.

My boots are laced up.

Are yours?

- Nicholas Provenzano
English Teacher
Grosse Pointe South High School

1 comment:

  1. Nick - I am a high school principal just up the street (literally) from Eric. We talk pretty often. He's a great guy and we both share the same ideas for technology in education. But here's the difference...

    My district refuses to even entertain these ideas. They don't like that I blog. They don't like that I am must teachers are on Facebook. Instead of using free wiki platforms, the district purchased a secure wiki server (the outside world would spend months trying to find out classroom wikis).

    Kudos to Eric. He's getting it done. I'll just keep waiting.


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