Last Monday in class, I tripped and fell on my face in front of about twenty students. It was awesome. We have no control of the heat in our classroom, and it was getting stuffy. I left the discussion circle to crack a window, my foot got stuck in a backpack shoulder strap, and I went down. Hard. On the way down, a hilarious involuntary noise came out of me. My students reported this as their favorite part of the mortifying episode. I had not even realized that I squealed because I was preoccupied making sure that my skirt wearing self did not flash a bunch of eighteen- year-old learners. Face on the floor, I pulled my pride together, and laughed heartily with my students as I rose to open the window.
During the next period, I brought up my fall, and I was a bit alarmed at the response. “Oh, we know Rosch,” was their giggled reply. “It is all over Twitter.”
Right. And that is when it really dawned on me. Youth are tech savvy, and literally have immediate access to any information they want. Even information I would like to be the gatekeeper of. My social media marketing spouse searched my name on Twitter that night playfully, and I got to see the Tweeted rendition of my spill. One reaction is to feel overwhelmed and irrelevant. But this is exciting people! Twitter facilitated donations to Haiti less than an hour after the tragic earthquake last year. And look at Egypt! Access to information and efficient sharing of information is a game changer. It just took me falling on my face to fully realize how different our classrooms need to look. I truly believe my job must shift from being an information sharer to a relevant facilitator. I must help young people navigate through an overstimulating amount of information in their quest for truth and justice. I must carve out space for them to be creative, invent and collaborate as they hone their adaptability and critical group think. The model of filling empty brains is over, it is time to inspire curiosity, point them to their power and fan the flame.
Increasingly, it is also a time for me as a teacher to address the courage fingers of cyberbullying and remind students that there is a time to unplug, look people in the eyes, and have a conversation that does not require abbreviations. To help these young people navigate the powerful world of information, don’t I have to understand their tools of access to it? Don’t I have to be able to speak their language?