Posts Tagged ‘cellphones’

Where are the Teachers When a Fight Erupts?

April 17, 2012

Either it’s just me or the quality of yard duty supervision is severely lacking. In the short time I have been working on this blog, I have encountered many cases of schoolyard bullying occurring amongst a crowd of student onlookers, yet without a teacher anywhere in sight. Either this has to do with an awareness issue among teachers or schools that have yet to properly address the supervision requirements for their school. There should be sufficient numbers of teachers on duty to deal with incidents as well as to patrol potential blindspots.

Here is but one example of a fight that occurred without being picked up by a teacher:

Marshall Brooks’s cheekbone was broken in two places and his eye socket shattered when one of his classmates gave him a vicious beating last week just outside their Westwood Senior High School yard.

But what was most horrifying to the seasoned police officers and school principal who viewed video footage of the attack in Hudson is that not one of the 50 or so students looking on tried to stop the beating or bothered to call 911.

Instead, they captured the action on their cellphones, eager to upload the drama to the Web. Only after the damage was done did someone step in.

“I saw the video and can’t believe no one intervened, or called police or even tried to help the young man,” said Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Sgt. Bruno Beaulieu.

“It was an unfair fight, like between David and Goliath, with the attacker at least twice the size of the victim.”

A 17-year-old student at the school, who can’t be named because he’s a minor, was charged with assault causing bodily harm and was released to his parents on a promise to appear in court at a later date.

He’s not allowed on school property for the rest of the academic year.

Brooks, 17, is recuperating at his Rigaud home after having reconstructive surgery at the Montreal General Hospital. Doctors feared he might lose the sight in his left eye, but, fortunately, it has returned – albeit a bit blurry.

“The kids didn’t seem to get that what they were watching was something dangerous,” said Brooks’s mother, Tina.

“Some were his friends and didn’t or couldn’t do anything and instead of calling 911, they were creating something cool and funky for Facebook.”

Brooks said he remembers being put in a headlock, pulled to the ground and punched repeatedly. But he said the fact that no one came to his rescue – and worse, recorded his suffering – doesn’t surprise him.

“It’s high school tradition to record everything and every fight,” he said.

“And compared to what you can find on TV or the Internet, a fight is nothing.”

The video of the beating has since been taken down from YouTube.

Australia has very strict procedures and regulations when it comes to yard duty. Perhaps these standards should be adopted worldwide.

How Badly Do Teachers Need Twitter and Facebook?

December 19, 2011

The very worst teachers usually spoil it for the rest of us. A prime example is social media. Social media is designed to aid communication and make interacting much easier. However, it can also be exploited and abused. Never a day passes where there isn’t a story about a teacher that acted innapropriately by saying or doing something on a social media site. These teachers have single handedly prevented other teachers from using these sites to help support their students.

My colleagues and I recieved an email from my boss a few moths ago, warning us not to have any communication with or about our students on Facebook. This is not an issue for me because I don’t have a Facebook page (I have a Twitter account but my students are unaware that I do). But the trend is clear. Schools don’t want their teachers in a position that could cause negative attention to their establishment.

My position on this is unclear. I am slighly leaning towards backing the school, as I am not fully aware of the benefits of Facebook for teachers and students. Whilst I can clearly see the disadvantages of such interactions, I don’t really understand how such a ban would effect the quality of teaching.

Clearly, there are teachers that swear by it:

Faced with scandals and complaints involving teachers who misuse social media, school districts across the country are imposing strict new guidelines that ban private conversations between teachers and their students on cellphones and online platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The policies come as educators deal with a wide range of new problems. Some teachers have set poor examples by posting lurid comments or photographs involving sex or alcohol on social media sites. Some have had inappropriate contact with students that blur the teacher-student boundary. In extreme cases, teachers and coaches have been jailed on sexual abuse and assault charges after having relationships with students that, law enforcement officials say, began with electronic communication.

But the stricter guidelines are meeting resistance from some teachers because of the increasing importance of technology as a teaching tool and of using social media to engage with students. In Missouri, the state teachers union, citing free speech, persuaded a judge that a new law imposing a statewide ban on electronic communication between teachers and students was unconstitutional. Lawmakers revamped the bill this fall, dropping the ban but directing school boards to develop their own social media policies by March 1.

School administrators acknowledge that the vast majority of teachers use social media appropriately. But they also say they are increasingly finding compelling reasons to limit teacher-student contact. School boards in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia have updated or are revising their social media policies this fall.

To those that have used social media with their students – is it really worth the risk?

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