I’m now officially two days into my work with my ninth grade English and Social Studies teachers at our Breakthrough Collaborative site. I’m thus far really pleased with the enthusiasm, energy, and creativity that the teachers have shown about tackling their respective material in a relatively constrained time-frame. Yesterday we examined and discussed my list of overlapping English and Social Studies skill sets, and how those should serve as the central organizing principles for their classes (see earlier post entitled “The Opening Salvo…“) Today we spent most of our time talking about the trajectory of the summer and how to give sufficient attention and emphasis to both the skills we’re teaching and the accompanying subject matter in a brief 21 class days–a daunting challenge for any teacher, regardless of experience level.
While the teachers were very receptive to my suggestions about skill sets and the ways in which those could be emphasized and conveyed via many different types of content and class activities, they were less sanguine about my suggestion that they dive head-first into the world of social media as a means for professional development and to find meaningful pedagogical discussion and resources. I was surprised by their reaction as one typically assumes that young people (I’m working with 19 and 20 year-old college students) are eager adopters of new technologies. However, my assumptions are, needless to say after their hesitancy, wrong. Rather, the teachers were taken aback by my suggestion to create a Twitter account and start their own blog where they could engage in reflection about their teaching. One did, however, mention (and I chose to interpret this as a compliment) that he had never met any teacher so enthusiastic about technology and using it in the classroom. Clearly, he hasn’t yet come across the TeachPaperless blog.
So, (and given that these very teachers may in fact read this post, as I’ve suggested that they follow me and look to this blog for various resources) what thoughts do people have about the hesitancy of young people toward Twitter? In fact, I had more success getting my 10th grade students to quickly jump on board and create Twitter accounts when we used them for our final exam review than I’ve had with this group of college students. Does it have to do with the predominance of Facebook among this age group and the desire to not invest themselves in what might simply become another time-sap in their lives? Does it have to do with the un-structured nature of Twitter and the immersion one needs to have into the network before one begins to recognize its utility?
Hopefully I’ll get some feedback from my teachers themselves here on this blog (and please note, my intrepid charges, that these musing are in no way meant to denigrate you, but are rather seeking earnest feedback.) For the rest of you (the other four people who occasionally have stumbled across my meandering posts,) what thoughts do you have on this issue? Have you noticed a difference in the attitude of high school students versus college students toward Twitter, or is my sample size too small to draw any meaningful conclusions?