By Omair Rasheed, Sydney Australia;
Our students are entrusted to us by parents, guardians, the school, and the wider community. How are we as educators ensuring that we are cultivating a positive school culture for our future leaders to flourish in?
The aim of this piece is to instigate discussions on student growth and character development – our future generations, are we falling behind in our mentorship?
Student success comes in many forms with main focuses on areas of academia. This is justified and understandable and educators nationwide are in unison with this concept. However, with the rapid nature of our ever-changing society, we are misaligning ourselves and losing our students to the disproportionate use of social media and we are yet to master dealing with the rise of instant gratification spreading far and wide amongst our youth.
There is a sense of hopelessness amongst teachers, evidenced by the record number of teachers and pre-service teachers leaving the industry of course, this is due to several factors and not only limited to one or two. Why is there such a divide and gap in the understanding between students and their teachers? Why are students increasingly feeling more and more entitled? How have we failed them? Can parents do more? – These are fundamental questions that require a high level of attention if we are to do justice to what we do for a living.
Social media for all its potential and good use, is predominantly unregulated. Students can say what they like without any accountability (in most cases) under anonymity. Students can watch and see anything they like on some platforms which are 1. not categorized, 2. unfiltered. This is HIGHLY problematic for minds and bodies that are yet fully developed and are only just entering the sphere of peer pressures, self-esteem, and self-image, especially with different levels of unsupervised “device freedoms” at home.
Understanding our students is our role, we must perfect this process with each and every student. Learning how they learn efficiently, their distractions, their concentration span, and their awareness of their learning momentum are data that is available to us and generated by us so that we can teach competently, in an ideal world. Sadly, we do not collate this data as well as we could, whether it’s time or effort, the reality is our students are worse off for it and so are our teaching pedagogies.
Our kids will essentially be the drivers of societal morals, ethics, and values and we must during their schooling, facilitate sound character development to ensure that we really are producing students who display resilience, social skills, and emotional intelligence and students who hold capabilities to deal with real-world pressures that they will face inevitably.
I agree, that this is all too simplistic, we must have realistic and specific modes of operations to unpack and tackle these issues. there are layers. Perhaps being well-informed on what our students are exposed to online will certainly help in dealing with certain situations moving forward. Increases in character-building activities, over-seeing student growth outside of comfort zones. How about just having meaningful and progressive conversations with students to show you care? listening so they feel heard, reciprocating respect and trust. operating as such may very well go a long way in addressing some of the concerns mentioned in this piece.
In saying all of this, we cannot undo what happens at home. For school strategies to be effective, they must be complimented at home and parents most definitely need to be on board, actively involved, and take charge in creating a positive home culture.
School cultures do not change overnight, it is a process that will require alignment amongst staff, certainly a process well worth the wait effort. Our kids are disconnecting, it’s time we reconnect! Teachers and schools need to collaborate more and more to start conversations and implement strategies toward fostering a more positive school culture in our schools.