Rigid, narrow codes of tradition masculinity and femininity drive poorer reproductive health outcomes, homophobia and gender-based violence. This is especially true among at-risk youth, like those who are of color or LGBT.
To improve outcomes, there has been an increased focus and commitment on "gender transformative” interventions and policies. Gender Transformative approaches question, challenge and change rigid gender norms and inequities. Major international donors–like PEPFAR, UNAIDS, USAID and WHO–have already endorsed Gender Transformative interventions.
Truechild.org is a wonderful resource for grappling with the issue of combating traditional gender norms for young people. This is essential reading/understanding for all educators. Use TrueChild's "learn the facts" section to get yourself up to speed, fast. Our kids need us on this issue as much as any other.
Today I had the wonderful opportunity to address the Pre-K to 6th grade faculty at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School. I am thankful to Simone, Pat, and Adam for inviting me to speak. I titled my talk "The Modern Educator" and told the faculty that I was talking about them - you are the modern educator. What does that role mean?
The visuals that I used during the presentation are below, but are probably only useful if you were there to hear me speak. I mentioned a number of resources during the talk and I want to pull them out here as a set of links for the CGPS faculty members to explore. CGPS teachers, if you have arrived, welcome! If you plan to go through these resources, I would give yourself about 20-30 minutes. If you have the time, close your e-mail, turn off your phone, and enjoy. You know, what you expect your students to do!
21apples - you are at 21apples as you read this. This is my blog where I reflect on my practice, share resources that I find useful, and solicit feedback from my colleagues. If you were part of the CGPS presentation I would love to have your feedback below in the comments area. Feel free to ask questions, leave constructive critiques, etc.
Did You Know 4.0 - we watched this video that threw many stats at us. We discussed that the video was 1 year old now and the stats are likely outdated. Even knowing that they weigh heavily. We also took time to think about credibility and authority - is this video credible?
How to Start a Movement - in 3 minutes Derek Sivers showed us how to start a movement. I mentioned that much bullying takes place in this way. I challenged us to think about how we could use this thinking to train bystanders to lead a movement (or even just a moment) against a bully. How would we make this work for our students?
Pat and I both mentioned danah boyd's (lower case intended) work on teens and social network. Her blog is a must-read for people concerned with how your people are using the Internet.
I misquoted Tony Schwartz - his quote about learning is that we "ought to expect that people won't get better at their jobs over time and may well get worse" - he was talking about organizations developing learning programs that increase skills and develop them as human beings. I can't recommend strongly enough reading his book The Way We're Working Isn't Working.
I also talked about the freely available book by Leo Babauta, Focus: A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction. Leo gives practical training on how you can better focus - how to unitask instead of trying to multitask (which we know is a myth) and much more. By taking his advice we could save time, be more productive, and reclaim our lives from an Age of Distraction by e-mail and all of the other things fighting for our attention. We must teach this ability to our students. Are we teaching them to focus? Is it strategic? How are we doing it? This might be the most personally rewarding book you read in a while.
I mentioned two excellent places to get started with online professional networks for teachers. The first is the Independent School Educators Network. Join it. These are our colleagues sharing their practice. Last year at TEDxNYED David Wiley articulately argued that "openness is the only means of doing education." Watch his compelling video:
The other network I mentioned is a much larger network with both public and private school educators mixed together - Classroom 2.0 is focused on examining how the web and social media can be used in education.
I was asked a question about developing school acceptable use policies. I strong believe that AUP's must support school's missions directly. David Warlick has one of the best resources to use in helping guide this formation at School AUP 2.0.
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I can't believe I have never seen this group before, but the Concord Consortium has some tremendous math and science resources that are worth exploring. Do let me know if you are using these resources in your classroom and if any have been particularly good.
I am not a fan of microfinance; let me be clear about that. Kiva and organizations like that are what I'm talking about. This NY Times article talking about how banks and organizations like Kiva are charging huge interest rates to lendees in the developing word. I have much to say on this topic will let the article do the talking for now.
My thinking was first greatly influenced by Alexander Cockburn who wrote The Myth of Microloans. It's a short read and worth it if you're considering send your or your school's money towards a microfinance organization in helps of aiding third world workers.
Our 7/8th grade Dean asked me to meet with students today to discuss the website Formspring.me. We wanted to respond to student and parent concerns about how our students were using the website. If you're not familiar with it, here is how it works: a person sets up an account with a name of their choice, say "Alison Q." People can then go to Alison Q's Formspring page and ask her a question. The tricky part is they can ask the question "anonymously" if they want to. I put that in quotes because Internet anonymity is more of a myth than are reality. Then, Alison can answer the question if she wants, or delete it. All of this takes place in the very public location of Alison's Formspring page. Formspring can also be embedded onto a Facebook profile page.
Students use the site in a variety of ways including: to say things they normally wouldn't, to bully anonymously or not, to make false claims about themselves, to be silly, or just to ask age-appropriate questions.
I led a discussion on the following points:
looking at how it technically works - Formspring server exchanges data with your computer
how there is a search right on the front page where anyone can look for your Formspring page (see image)
how sites like Google and Archive.org are indexing websites like Formspring - talking about how "deleting" is more of a myth than a reality
how data posted online becomes part of students online reputation - similar to offline reputation, but indexed by Google and around "forever"
how to delete Formspring data - looked at FAQ page on deleting which has been looked at by many thousands of users (see image). Then looked at how page can never be deleted, only disabled. Also looked at fact that any questions asked by you can never be deleted. Bad decisions in that regard cannot be rectified via the website.
Talk about in-school expectations - reviewed middle school handbook, acceptable use policy - and how we expect our students to use the Internet in school for school purposed. We expect our students to treat each other with respect and use appropriate language.
being honest about how a site technically works is important
students want to believe they can be anonymous online - they argue to suggest that they are
discussing transparency of the Internet is essential
online reputation is a construct that students can relate to - they want to have a positive reputation
7th and 8th grade is an appropriate time to be grappling with this - don't ban the technology, help them understand the implications of their decision
not making it disciplinary, but making it explanatory helps them recognize and make their own decisions
I'd love to hear back on suggestions or on how you are helping your students understand this new social tool.
On a side note: we thought it might be entertaining to set up teacher Formspring accounts where students could ask us questions about their work/area of study. So questions like "What is the different between aerobic and anaerobic respiration?"