Student wellbeing: creating a tool bag for students to flourish
To start semester two, our teacher professional development included a session on student wellbeing and Positive Psychology.
The Director of Wellbeing and Positive Education, Trina Cummins, spoke about the importance of teachers explicitly teaching students how to develop Positive Psychology by giving them the tools and strategies for their wellbeing tool bag so they can grow, develop and flourish.
Positive citizenship challenges
As I listened to Trina I reflected upon how I can help students to be a positive citizen so that they can feel confident in responding to social dilemmas such as racism and sexism in society. As an educator, there are several tools or learning opportunities for students that I can build into my teaching to give students the tools and strategies to become responsible compassionate global citizens.
Tool 1: How to use social media
A tool that I can give my students is the awareness and technical knowledge to use social media in a responsible and respectful manner. For example, in Australia, one visible response to racism was by a famous Australian rock musician, Jimmy Barnes, who used Facebook to ask anti-Islam groups to stop playing his classic Australian songs at their rallies. This was picked up in the Sydney Morning Herald who supported his Facebook comment.
Social media campaigns against racism, like Jimmy Barnes on FaceBook or Michelle Glauser’s recent ‘I look like an engineer‘ Twitter campaign to combat sexist stereotypes can be part of the wellbeing tool bag of our students as they demonstrate to other young people that they can use technology to speak out and have a voice in society.
Technical awareness along with concepts of responsible citizenship and respect will equip young adults in their response to racist rallies such as those that occurred in Adelaide and Melbourne recently. A belief that technology is the future of tomorrow led to Trisha Prabhu creating of her Rethink Project against cyber-bullying.
Tool 2: Engaging student learning in global collaboration projects
From my recent participation with Flat Connections and teaching positive global citizenship to my international students, one teaching strategy is to engage students in collaborative intercultural projects. Global Projects, such as FCGP, co-creating, blogging and Skyping and creating learning communities using technology to connect students with other students from around the world. This educational experience will give them the confidence to explore intercultural differences and respond with respect and compassion.
If our students can experience respectful learning environments such as those encountered in Flat Connection Global Projects and blogging, they will have the opportunity, along with teacher guidance, to build their confidence and technological awareness to initiate positive actions that articulate respectful global citizenship.
Understanding and serving something greater than yourself as a responsible, respectful and generous global citizen and leader, who acts with integrity for a socially just world and a sustainable future for the Earth.
To see how my international students are developing their toolbag to flourish as responsible global citizens, please read their thoughts on the Student Blogs, on my blog home page.
Moving from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership
By developing digital citizenship into the curriculum, students gain the skills and the awareness that builds digital leadership. The definitions below from Teacher Thought show this progression:
Digital Citizenship: Using the internet and social media in a responsible and ethical way
Digital Leadership: Using the internet and social media to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.
Jennifer Casa-Todd in her blog, Endless Possibilities, gives some inspiring examples of students who are using social media as digital leaders. Have a look at:
- Hannah Alper who uses Twitter and her website Call Me Hannah to champion of environmental causes. She is also a member of Youth Ambassador for Bystander Revolution, which is an organization taking a stand on bullying.
- @Aidan_Aird, a 15 year old student who created a website, Developing Innovations, “To inspire, celebrate and promote #STEM … It is a place to celebrate their accomplishments and inspire other kids to follow in their footsteps.”
George Couros defines Digital Leadership as:
“Using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.”
(From, Digital Leadership Defined)
As Jennifer points out, students not only need to know how to be safe online, by not having an inappropriate online pressence, but they can do so much more by harnessing the power of social media to do good.
They can move beyond thinking that social media is just for social friendships and sharing, to creating a digital footprint that makes them stand out as inspirational positive leaders who actively speak out about issues, innovate and connect with others.
George Couros: Your Digital Footprint