Supporting Our Schools: “Away for the Day” in context
Here at PSTT we’ve spent the past two school years learning about the ways in which our schools need support around kids’ use of personal tech. We’ve had conversations with school administrators and counselors and we’ve (informally) surveyed teachers. Certainly, our schools are already hard at work integrating technology into our students’ academic learning and MUHS is also adept at providing tech tools to facilitate student navigation of due dates, calendars and activity schedules. Our schools are moving toward a goal of 1:1 access, students: computers. This can provide equity; supporting students to use technology to grow their understanding and learning together in the classroom. What we’ve been hearing loud and clear from school staff and parents of high school students is a need for support of students around digital citizenship –meaning ethics, online safety, privacy awareness, relationships & communication, etiquette, and more. In short, we’re looking at helping our schools focus on how to model and how to mentor healthy relationships with technology since unbalanced relationships with tech are showing up in classrooms, hallways, the lunch room, the locker room, etc. We hope this is the start of developing a school culture that is both tech positive and balanced.
To support modeling and mentoring positive use of tech, ACSD’s Digital Learning Plan calls upon the district to “Design/adopt, trial, and implement a curriculum scope and sequence for Digital Citizenship education.” When this didn’t happen on the timeline set out in the Digital Learning Plan, PSTT facilitated efforts to begin to include a digital citizenship curriculum as part of the MUHS advisory program. With PSTT’s ongoing support, this went into effect in spring 2019 and will continue in the fall.
Alongside modeling positive tech behaviors to students and mentoring students through tech challenges, the third important piece is providing structure. We encourage our schools to provide structure to tech life much like they provide structure to the MUHS curriculum. We are interested in helping MUHS look at ways to structure student space, student time and tech access itself to best support students in using their personal tech thoughtfully. One aspect of structuring tech is looking at when and where students have access to their personal tech. Responding to concern from many staff and community members, PSTT is exploring interest in implementing an “Away for the Day” policy at MUHS. We don’t yet know exactly what this might look like and there may be allowable reasons for some students to use personal tech during a school day (parent communication or personal medical monitoring come to mind). But exploring the possibilities seems important.
If you live in the ACSD community and would like to be added as a supporter to our Statement of Interest, please send us your name and town of residence.
As we continue to support MUHS and ACSD in modeling & mentoring healthy relationships with tech, and structuring school to support personal tech success, please consider joining the conversation!