This is the third year of our 1:1 laptop program at San Jose Christian School. Each year, we learn new things as we seek to walk alongside our families in raising good digital citizens. This year, we changed up how we do new student orientation and implemented a mandatory two-hour tech training session for at least one parent and his or her student. I really liked the change.
The first fifteen minutes was our middle school staff introducing ourselves and sharing what we're excited about for this coming year. I loved hearing the enthusiasm of my colleagues as we welcome students back onto our campus. We're all very different teaching styles, but we love students and we work hard to see them succeed.
And then we jumped into our tech training. But the first 30-45 minutes didn't have any computers.
We started with philosophy. I keep coming back to Jaime Casap's blog post on teaching students to use the internet like we teach them to cross the street. At San Jose Christian, our philopsophy is "teach, not ban." We want to teach students to use technology and to use it well. And I've added a second part: "Teach, not ban & engage the world." I love that tech amplifies the student voice, and we want our program to use it to do just that. I want my students' parents to know that I'm all about teaching kids to use technology wisely, but I also want them to recognize how tech can help amplify the important thoughts their kids have inside their hearts and heads.
We then used that philosophy to share best practices. I shared from the student perspective things I think my parents did well. I urged parents to not let their students keep their technology in the bedroom, especially overnight. I reminded parents to put their devices down and play a game with students and to remember that they're modeling tech usage too. I praised my own parents for letting us use technology to learn and create but necessarily just to consume. And parents who've gone through our program shared what's worked for them at home, like turning of the wi-fi at night and randomly checking their students' accounts. We tried to give parents permission to be parents. To set up boundaries. To get in their kids' business. To be involved.
We then gave families time to start the conversation about tech guidelines in their homes. I love the things Common Sense Media is doing. In addition to our own usage guidelines, I gave families about fifteen minutes to chat through the Family Media Agreements and device contracts. This was by far my favorite part. I loved watching parents and students face-to-face, asking each other questions and deciding things together. It was awesome how those conversations weren't one-sided, but that parent and students were working together. This is totally part of the church, home, and school partnership we're looking for.
We then spent the last hour going over different computer tutorials. We looked at Google Drive and Google Classroom. We created folders and files and even played a little bit with the research tool in Google Docs. We made bookmarks and changed preferences. And again, I loved watching parents and students working together. It was fun to watch the students teach their parents about the technology they're using. It made me realize we're not offering enough forums for this.
It was a great session. I was exhausted afterwards, and my brain is still processing it all, but I really think we need to have more student-parent sessions in our communities. This is why:
- We need more family conversations about appropriate technology use.
- We need more opportunities for students to teach their parents.
- We need more families sharing solutions with each other about monitoring technology usage in the home.
- We need to share with parents the lessons we're teaching their kids about digital citizenship in the classroom.
I'm excited to see how the fruit of the conversations that were started today throughout the rest of the year. I'm stoked to work at a school that so deeply cares about the whole child and the whole family, and I'm honored to be a part of the conversation.
(If you're looking for a Christian school for your student, I'd love to talk to you more about what we're doing over at San Jose Christian. I might be biased, but it's pretty awesome.)