Who would be a teacher? I mean, really. They have a tough time of it. Parents expect them to be day babysitters without letting them do it right, if a pupil fails it’s not the pupil’s fault, it’s the teacher – it’s a no-win job. You give too much attention to someone, you get labelled. Give too little, you get labelled. All the power is in the hands of the child and not the adult – something many a child exploits.
In days gone by, you would have pupils trawl through the phonebook to get your details and phone you up, annoying you – now they do it on social media instead, forcing teachers to use locked accounts or not be on platforms for fear of what is said if they engage with pupils.
And now, along comes this idea that teachers should provide out of hours support via social media to pupils – and the NASUWT union, along with Dumfries and Galloway Council want to stop this from happening.
Which is wrong, because you know what? It’s a bloody brilliant idea. For everyone concerned – teachers, pupils, the country.
Pupils struggle with homework, that’s pretty much a universal fact. Not all the time and not all the pupils, but many do struggle from time to time. And parents can’t always help because it could be a topic they don’t know, the parent isn’t well educated or there’s only one parent present and they don’t have time to help due to other concerns. So what’s the child to do? Just go daft?
But what if teachers went online for a set period of time – say 6-7pm or 7-8pm – and said to pupils (for example): “OK, I’ll be on the school’s Facebook page (or even on the GLOW network if it has a forum style facility) to answer any questions. I won’t give you the answers but I’ll give you pointers and help. If I can’t help, perhaps another pupil can help if they are online.” Or if it’s a small group, set up a Hangout on Google+ and chat to a group of up to 10 pupils, solving their issues.
Who wins here? Everyone – the pupils not only get help with their homework but they are also brushing up on their ICT skills, using technology and social media to engage. For the teachers, pupils are getting their homework done which aids with less disruption during classtimes and helps keep everyone closer to the same pace. The teacher and pupils are also getting to build up a positive relationship, which hopefully increases good behaviour and so on. Who knows, the Scottish Government may even increase funding for wireless and IT access in Scotland on the back of it.
But why should teachers do this out of hours. Well, children are doing stuff out of hours aren’t they – and they aren’t getting paid to do homework. Aside from that (and I appreciate that teachers already have an out of hours workload) it’s using social media the same way businesses are having to – you go online and engage when your audience is online and engaging.
But surely teachers shouldn’t have to befriend/like/follow their pupils – teachers don’t want pupils to see their postings and updates – some of which may be of a more adult nature than a pupil should see.
That’s a fair point and there’s a fairly radical solution to that (spot the sarcasm) – create a second account or use something work-only like GLOW. That or just point out you’ll only answer homework questions at certain times just as some businesses only operate on social media during certain hours of the working day.
Aside from homework, this also gives pupils a place and a chance to confide in teachers in issues that are bothering them and they need some support/help with. Even better – unlike a spoken conversation – there’s a record trail of what has been said – by whom and when.
I can’t see a downside to this – yes, it’s a wee bit more work for teachers, but most of us are having to do a wee bit more workload these days – but I fully expect that come the weekend, the union and the council will get full backing and this great idea will be shot down.
And it won’t just be the pupils who are losers in the long run.