Teach People to be Kind

Having the opportunity to listen to Carol Todd speak and tell her heartbreaking story, has helped me face the realities of what is happening online. While scrolling through Cscreen-shot-2017-02-20-at-5-17-38-pmarol’s blog posts, there was one image that popped up multiple times that I took the most from, and that I think shows her true strength. She is constantly encouraging people to “Be silly. Be fun. Be different. Be crazy. Be you, because life is too short to be anything but happy.” Before being introduced to Carol I had the opportunity to watch The Sextortion of Amanda Todd, My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm, read a few other articles, and explore what Carol has to share on her Twitter. I was inspired to find that no matter what she has been through, her overall message was to be positive, to be kind, and to stand up for others. During her time in our class, she stated that:

“It comes down to behaviours. It’s not about the tool, or the app. It’s about the behaviours of individuals. If they are respectful. If they show empathy and compassion, that is what’s going to show up on their profiles when they are using tools and devices. We need to make sure that people care about each other.” – Carol Todd

It is not possible for students to just go “offline.” I need to act as a role model and help students to realize that not everyone they meet online is going to be kind. I know that since technology is evolving so quickly, and that it is going to be very hard to stay up to date with it all. Overall, I do have one goal that I am determined to achieve. I want my students to be kind, to be respectful, and to have empathy. I can use articles such as Teacher Helpline: How can I Teach Kids to be Nice Online? or 7 Ways to be Kind Online. These skills can be displayed in the classroom, in society, and online.

Additionally, when Katia mentioned the danger of trolls, she talked about “not feeding the trolls.” This topic reminded me of a situation that happened a few years ago… I was messaged through Facebook by one of my mothers Facebook friend saying that something weird was happening with my mom. She stated that my mom had messaged her stating that she was on a trip to Scotland with my aunty. My mom had everything stolen from her, but she still had her passport. She was looking for money so that she could make it back home to her family. A few other people had been messaged just to make sure that should could gather up enough money in order to get a plane ticket back home to her family.

Photo Credit: @PAkDocK / www.pakdock.com Flickr via Compfight cc

THE TRUTH:

  1. I had never heard of the woman who messaged me, and my mother hadn’t spoken to her since high school
  2. My mom was at work, not in Scotland, and was in need of no money
  3. My aunty was expecting a child in a few days so there is no way she could be in Scotland
  4. This situation was impossible, and an internet troll was behind it all
  5. I am grateful for truthful people

In the end I was very thankful that the woman had messaged me in order to inform me of what was going on. After hearing of many trolls out there, I know that this situation could have been much worse. My mom had to deactivate her account, but that process wasn’t easy. Her Facebook was connect to many other accounts, so she seemed to be stuck in a never ending cycle. Eventually she did get out, but we have learned so much from this situation. I can also use this personal example to show students that it can easily happen to themselves, or to those around them.

I kept going back to the question, If I am teaching little tiny minds who don’t have cellphones yet, how does this apply to me? During my internship, I was in a Kindergarten classroom and when first thinking about, it did not think I encountered any significant teaching around technology. I decided to dig a little deeper, and really thought about it. I was fortunate enough to have a SMART Board in my classroom. After explicit instructions and modelling, when students had free time they had the opportunity to use the smart board independently. They would draw pictures, play with shapes, create lines, and be free to just explore. As the teacher, I was always there to supervise how students were interacting with the smart board. They had to treat it with respect, allow others to use the tool as well, and use the SMART Board for its intended purpose. The main rule that we had was, “if anything pops up on the smart board, you need to ask the teacher for help right away!” They followed this rule whole heartedly throughout my whole internship, in order to safely and successfully use the smart board. It may not seem like a lot, but I think having that open and trusting relationship around technology sets a good foundation around using technology beginning in Kindergarten.

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I want to end this blog post in speaking about Pink Shirt Day. For as long as I can remember, I have took part in Pink Shirt Day focused around the concept of “no bullying”. However, seeing the transition to it being a day centred around kindness is something I see as wonderful. I understand that conversations still need to be had around what bullying is, but am excited to facilitate conversations about people taking action and being kind. The only negative that I see around this, is that fact that it is only one single day. This movement should be 365 days a year, 24/7. We need to #maketodaypositive

Stay kind friends!

– Ms.S

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