The same could be said for social media. As educators, we need to be models for our students of how to use social media. We've long had non-educator examples of how not to use social media (the former backup OSU quarterback Cardale Jones is one I use frequently). Last night, I was provided with two examples from current Nebraska administrators along those same lines.
As the high school football season descended upon Nebraska Friday, I went to watch my cousin's son play. Via Twitter, I was also keeping up with a game of HUGE importance in my district, the cross town battle between our two high schools. I was using our district's sports Twitter account to retweet scores from people at the game when I came across these two subsequent tweets from an account that very clearly identifies the person as an athletic director at a local high school.
|Just to be clear, the bottom one came first. The account had been tweeting when each team scored.|
Is that administrator using social media? Absolutely. And by scrolling back through the account and looking at it again today, the account does a great job of sharing their school's scores. But is that account modeling appropriate use of social media? In my opinion, absolutely not.
I considered mentioning the account in a tweet from my personal account (we don't follow each other, so I couldn't direct message them), but instead sent out a couple generic tweets and added the #nebpreps hashtag, one used by high school athletic departments across the state.
Grateful for a #nebpreps metro-area AD for providing me another example of how NOT to model social media use to their students.
— Josh Allen (@j_allen) August 31, 2013
Cheer for your team. Model respect for your opponent. Don't rub it in that you're blowing them out. #nebprepsAfter my tweets, a good friend replied back that it was a superintendent, not athletic director. However, after a few direct messages, we found that we were talking about two different people. Below is the other tweet.
— Josh Allen (@j_allen) August 31, 2013
As administrators, you are expected to cheer and support with all of your might for your school. Be biased. I frequently am on our district's sports account. But you need to be - all of us need to be - models of appropriate use of social media. Tweeting at the expense of your opponent, in my opinion, isn't appropriate use of social media. Am I perfect? No. But go back through my Twitter feed and find a time when I put down a kid who was trying their hardest. Those teenagers on the opposing teams have worked all summer for their time under the Friday night lights and you thumbed your nose at them. What would happen if that was one of your student? One of your staff? Judging from what you posted, probably nothing.
We apparently need to stop asking educators to model social media and instead be more directed as to the type of modeling we need to do. I don't feel this type of behavior is wide spread among administrators, but I also don't feel it's OK to just "let it go." I plan on contacting people I know in both districts. I don't know either person whose name is on those Twitter accounts, nor do I expect them to know me. I'm not the Twitter police, but I've put myself out there as a Twitter ambassador for our great state and I don't like when others cast a negative light on all the great things educators are doing here. In the grand scheme of things, this is much more tame than many things that kids say to each other online during a day. I get that. But we educate kids and should hold ourselves to higher expectations then we hold them to. I don't know what the administrators' response will be. I won't be upset if there never is a response. I don't need one directed at me. But it probably wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if they responded to the opposing teams. What I do know is that we, as educators, need to not just model social media, but model positive use of social media.
On a good note...this EXTREMELY positive use of social media is making the rounds for what a group of Nebraska high school kids did at a football game last night. Kudos to my good friend Jay Dostal for sharing his students' idea.
The ultimate act of sportsmanship. Helping a Pius player in need. Way to go #KHSBearcatNation pic.twitter.com/SBVtP6O8jx
— Jay Dostal, Ed.D. (@jaydostal) August 31, 2013