Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Do You Have The Guts To Stop The Grinding?

Dance floor hidden behind a reveal by county marquees, on Flickr
Empty Dance Floor

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  county marquees 

Today, I'm sending out a cyber pat-on-the-back to Middleton (RI) High School Principal Gail Abromitis and her staff for having the guts to do the right thing in the face of 400 angry students.

According to the Providence Journal, Abromitis shut down the homecoming dance after students refused to adhere to a 'no grinding' dance policy.  For those of you who have not seen a high school dance lately let me just tell you that they can be a torrid affair.  Here's a rather mild 'how to grind' video I found on YouTube.  Imagine a dance floor full of teenagers doing the same thing (only with more enthusiasm - if I can use that as a euphemism for nastier). Walking through a dance floor trying to separate individuals and groups (yes they do this as a group) from dancing like this always left me feeling a bit dirty and longing for the the 80s kickstep that was in vogue when I was dancing to Tears for Fears and The Alarm.

The school announced a ban on this type of dancing prior to the dance. When the students refused to comply, the principal stopped the music to remind students of the rule.  She even enlisted the help of the senior class president to calm things down.  Unfortunately, things turned from nasty to dangerous.  The Journal reports that a mob mentality developed among the students who began spewing profanities at the principal.  At this, Abromitis activated the emergency call system and sent students home.

Sometimes sitting at the big desk means making unpopular decisions.  Kudos to Abromitis for doing the right thing.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Parent to Parent Rant - Close the Party House

Alcohol Bottles by Canadian Veggie, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Canadian Veggie 

If you've been a high school teacher or administrator for any length of time you know that kids party.  You hear the talk in the halls and in your classroom; you know they drink to excess and do stupid stuff.  You also wish you could convince them to do otherwise but hold on to the memories of the stupid stuff you did in high school and the fact that your teachers couldn't tell you anything either.

When I listened to students recount their weekends one thing that always burned me up was stories of 'party houses.' You know those houses where the parents would look the other way or worse, join in, while the kids partied the night away.

Rather than rant myself I thought I'd share a post written by a concerned parent to the party house parent.  While it's easy to envision the party house parent as being covered with tattoos, piercings, and whatnot and the ranting parent being a 50s knock off mom, that happens not to be the case.  In this case, the exact opposite is true.  The parents writing the post own a local tattoo shop and the parent being ranted at is a poster-child for the all American family.

I while I don't agree 100% with the writer, I think its worth a read so check out the following excerpt and click through at the end to read the rest ...

Last night our son made a choice and that choice has consequences.  You see…we believe in holding our kids accountable for their actions but it seems that is rare with parents these days. Welcome to “GENERATION E”  The generation of ENTITLEMENT.
Some of our friends and family may not agree with the public humiliation of our son by posting the picture of him covered in vomit, hugging a trash can, but we would hope it will serve as a purpose.
  1. Do not put yourself in situations that people can take pictures of your dumb ass in vulnerable, self depreciating positions
  1. Notifying the rest of our friends who have teenage children what they have to look forward to.
  1. The long-lasting memories of that one bad choice that will be forever floating in cyberspace (and potentially framed on our living room wall)
However, there are more disturbing issues at hand.  My husband and I do not have unrealistic expectations of teenagers and what they do when parents are not around. Here is the kicker…a parent WAS around.  So that tells me a few things:
  1. The teenage host of the party knows that her parents will buckle under the pressure to give her what she wants.
  1. The parent is fearful of losing their daughter’s love and acceptance, so they enable bad behavior in an effort to promote their daughter’s social status instead of saying no.
  1. You can hold yourself above others based on your bank account, career and outward appearance, but your actions to overlook what happens in your home is what makes you common.
Click here to read the rest of the article ... Feel free to share your reactions below.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Quick BYOD Tip

Out To Lunch by Kaptain Kobold, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Kaptain Kobold 

Yesterday I was discussing my Division's new BYOD policy with a principal and asked him how implementation was going.  He shared that it was going a bit slow (only natural since we've just gone from a we-see-it-you-loose-it-and-go-to-ISS to a you-can-now-use-it-for-academics school system). But he offered a great idea that his school is trying to get the students adjusted to appropriate BYOD use.

In the cafeteria they have set up a BYOD table -  reminders about acceptable use are posted on the table to keep students from going astray and they don't allow food at the table (not sure why) - as a place where students can use their own technology to complete academic assignments.

Not the perfect solution but a good step in what is really a major culture shift.

How are you making the shift to BYOD? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Teacher Suspended Over Facebook Post

Pages and pages of text

Gaston County (NC) High School English teacher Shanna Sigmon-Moore was suspended with pay for allegedly posting and commenting about student's work on Facebook.  According to Education Week, Sigmon-Moore took photos of three students' papers, highlighted their spelling a grammatical errors and posted them to the site.  When others commented on the papers she responded, "See what I go through everyday?"

I bet her principal had the same thought.

The post wasn't public but was posted to a select group of friends one of whom, I'm guessing, didn't like what she read and turned Sigmon-Moore in to the administration.

How many times do I have to say it?

Teachers need to be extremely careful about what they post online.  This teacher not only violated the trust of her students and the community but may have violated FERPA laws as well.  The division was correct in suspending her during the investigation (as of this writing there was no update on Sigmon-Moore's employment status).

If you find yourself involved in a similar situation there are several steps you can take to mitigate the impact on instruction and restore community trust -

  1. Document the questionable post by printing the entire page with footers enabled.  In Explorer the footer will note the web address and the date printed.   I also like to take a screen shot of the post and save it electronically.  
  2. Ask the teacher to remove the post and explain why you are doing so ... "Mr. Teacher, this post violates student privacy and has eroded the trust your students and parents have in you; I am asking you to remove the post so that we can begin to restore that trust.  Additionally, the post is in violation of division policy and while there is a possibility that this may effect your employment, removing the post could help to lessen those effects later."
  3. Seek permission from senior leadership to remove the teacher from the classroom during the investigation.
  4. Let the parents of the students know what is going on - better they find out from you then to read about it themselves on Facebook.
  5. Follow division policies for employment action.  Depending on the severity of the offence termination may be appropriate - in this case, I would likely recommend a written reprimand or disciplinary probation depending on her past employment record.  If student names were disclosed, which I don't think they were in this case, I would recommend termination. 

You may also be thinking that a revision of division social media policies would be needed after an incident like this  - however, as long as teachers understand that all division policies apply to online postings and behaviors you should be covered policy-wise.

Here are some resources to help your teachers along:

Photo Credit - (CC) ilovebutter (no real name given)


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