Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The struggle

Growth is about struggle.  Learning and improving is about struggling with a concept or new idea. Things should be difficult at times.  As adults we need to struggle.  That new idea should cause us to get uncomfortable.  Today we had real conversations within our professional learning committee.  We had dialogue that was authentic.  People challenged each other in professional ways. We struggled grasping what it is we want from our district's professional learning plan.  We are having crucial conversations that are making positive impacts on our school.  It's not easy, and we will continue to struggle.  Innovation is messy and often lacks a clear path.  I think at times you have to struggle, take risks, reevaluate, have more dialogue, and create the path.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Be thankful

I am reminded today that we should cherish people who have helped us be who we are.  I am believer that I didn't get to where I am because of myself alone.  There are many people along the way in my life that have helped and assisted me when needed.  There have been people that have helped when I didn't want help.  We need to thank those that have been supportive of us and remember that it isn't us alone that make us who we are.  It is the people, and experiences along the way that make us who we are.  Be thankful.  

This is such a great message from Mother Teresa:

"People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Does social media amplify meanness and cruelty?

The parent advisory committee and I are currently reading It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens written by Danah Boyd.  Boyd challenges our thinking in regards to the use of social media. 

It is often difficult to define bullying, especially in the digital era.  Each person may define it differently depending on the situation.  Swedish psychologist Dan Olweus provides three components that are central to bullying, and they are aggression, repetition, and imbalance of power.  This means that one-time acts of harassment, and reciprocal acts are not bullying based on Olweus’s definition.  According to Boyd, “Adults use bullying as an umbrella term” (Boyd, 2014, p. 132).  We have to be careful when we use the term bullying.  We have to know what it is, and what it is not.  Many of the issues that we deal with at school are reciprocal acts, like friends spreading rumors about each other because of a recent fight.  It doesn’t make these acts less painful, but we would not consider these incidents as bullying.  The acts may include aggression, but lack repetition and differential power which are essential to the above mentioned bullying definition. 

I think there is an assumption that social media has amplified the amount of bullying that occurs inside and outside of school.  The media has highly publicized bullying and now most states including North Dakota have bullying laws.  Many of the teens that Boyd interviewed indicated that bullying was not a significant issue in their peer group.  Students that were interviewed separated gossip and rumors from their own bullying definition.  Boyd explained, “These teens confidently told us that bullying was “so middle school” and that teenagers “grow out of it” (Boyd, 2014, p. 137).  Instead, teens referred to interpersonal conflict as drama.  Boyd defined drama as, “performative, interpersonal conflict that takes place in front of an active, engaged audience, often on social media” (Boyd, 2014, p. 138).   It is difficult to find who is at fault in these instances due to the reciprocal actions of those involved in the drama.  Students that get caught up in the drama often see other people as the ones causing problems.  According to Boyd, attention becomes a commodity, and teens that participate in drama intentionally or accidently can be hurtful to others. 

When teens understand how their actions online affect others – they are more apt to understand the consequences of their actions (Boyd, 2014).  I don’t believe social media has amplified meanness and cruelty, but it certainly has made these issues more public.  Social media can increase the damage and speed of rumors and cause pain to others.  Empathy and resiliency are important traits for all teens to have as new technologies come our way.  Blaming new technologies or sheltering our children from them will not decrease conflicts.  Helping your teen to understand conflict, and the appropriate ways to handle it are vital to their growth. 


Boyd, D. (2014). It's complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.