Disclaimer: Although the sketch of this plan was drawn up in collaboration, I have not yet cleared the detail with my school and they may well indeed suggest amendments or another approach entirely.
In two days I will be leading a workshop for all school prefects to help kickstart a Social Media Policy for our independent co-educational boarding school. Social media usage within such an organisation is not easy to measure or monitor. Pastoral teams all have incidents to recant about what happened when it all went wrong, but I am prepared to be told that we grown ups are making a fuss about something that is not of great concern to young people right now. That’s not to say I wouldn’t put a policy in place, only that I’m open to hearing what I, and others in the teaching body, perceive as potentially harmful is actually over-egging the pudding. Mostly I want to listen.
So, here is the plan…
The prefects will be having dinner in five tables of five whilst we work. I’m going to do an intro, throw in a curve ball or two about my own experiences, break the ice – I’m new so none of them know me – and hopefully raise a smile or two that might ease everyone into the evening. Also, I’ll be instigating the Chatham House Rule (as far as it is applicable in these circumstances, i.e. within safeguarding) and asking the participants to share their thoughts and experiences, including an invitation to contact me or another teacher if there is something they would like to discuss in private. Then there will be a mixture of discussion points and post-it activities. Post-it’s will be stuck onto categorised (categories TBD) oversized post-its stuck on the walls around the room.
Discussion point 1
Share with your table the last three times you used social media.
What four separate words best describe your experience of using social media? Write each word on a separate note. Pick two of your four to stick on the wall and discard the other two.
Discussion point 2
Do we need to provide social media guidance for our pupils?
Have you ever, or someone you know well, had a negative experience using social media?
To answer yes, use a yellow note and write one emotion you felt at that time on the note. To answer no, use a pink note, and use one of these words to explain why you think you haven’t: abstain, careful, private, carefree, or other.
Discussion point 3
Accidentally or deliberately, have you, or someone you know well, ever used technology to cause someone to get upset or feel bad about themselves?
Close your eyes. Think back to your first day in school and how you’ve changed and how you’ve stayed the same. What advice would you give your younger self? [open eyes]
If you could, would you let your 11 or 13 year old self know anything about how to behave online? Using as few words as possible, write this advice down on a note. One point per note. As many notes as you want.
Discussion point 4
What would you, as a senior pupil and a prefect, say to a younger pupil who approached you because they are worried about something that has happened online?
What do we need to do to support you in situations of this sort that you might face this academic year? One point per note but as many notes as you want from your table.
Discussion point 5
Do we need to stop skirting around the issue and talking to you and drafting policies and simply get a bit tough-love about all this and start enforcing some hard line rules?
Having spent the evening thinking and reflecting on the matter, where do we go from here?
Thank yous and goodbyes.
All post-it notes to be collected and assembled into a debrief document to be discussed by a pastoral development committee.
Hopefully this should fill the sixty to ninety minute window set aside for this event. Please let me know if you see a missed opportunity or I’m pitching something wrong from what you’ve read?