School Administrators Need to Limit Access. Huh?

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Embrace Technology or Get Left Behind.

At the District Administration Magazine conference this week in Phoenix (yes, I said Phoenix), there was a discussion on social media and its use in schools.

I’m never shocked when school administrators talk about limiting access for students (I’m not happy, but not shocked).

I was surprised when several superintendents talked about why they don’t personally use it.

Their reason?  They don’t want to give parents and community members any more access to school business than they already have.


Color me dumbfounded.  And tan (yes, I said Phoenix).

I assumed everyone knew it was 2011 (although I know what happens when I assume).

Everything is accessible.

The world’s a big place and it’s getting smaller.

Parents are demanding schools be more open.  They want to know and see what their children (and teachers) are doing.  They want information, and they want it immediately.

If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Our lives are no longer just our lives.

People have access to us whether we like it or not.

I think we have two choices:  use and understand social media or stick our head in the sand and hope it goes away.

And I’m pretty sure it’s not going away.

If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Just so you know, I’m typing this on my resort balcony.  Sure it sounds fun, but there is a slight glare on my computer screen as I enjoy the 94 degree sunshine.  And if that wasn’t enough, the ice cubes in my drink are melting ever so slightly.

It’s not easy being me.

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13 Responses to “School Administrators Need to Limit Access. Huh?”

  1. Olwyn Hughes
    on Apr 2nd, 2011
    @ 10:02 pm

    So sad that your ice cubes are melting….

    We still have teachers who refuse to use their school board email even though it is the only way that some information is transmitted. They say it is a hassle to check. AND they won’t give out their email to parents because then, heaven forbid, the parents might be able to contact them more easily!

    I guess some people are just happier in the sand. I just wish I didn’t have to deal with them on a daily basis. Sigh…


    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Olwyn Hughes, The email thingb should be a fireable offense.

  2. Dave Sherman
    on Apr 2nd, 2011
    @ 10:22 pm

    No matter how hard I try, I can not convince my superintendent to use social media for the exact reason you give. She is afraid of getting ripped to shreds by parents and community members. Instead, she could use the sites to tell her/the district’s side of the story. But, nope. Too afraid (although the excuse I am given is there just is not enough time to blog…).

  3. Alfred Thompson
    on Apr 2nd, 2011
    @ 10:44 pm

    A superintendent told me once that superintendents keep their jobs by convincing the school board that they (the school board) are in charge and in control. This is most easily done by controlling the information the school board (and the public) have access to. The same is true for any manager who reports to a board of any kind of course. In the years I was on a school board and a budget committee I became very aware that almost my whole source of information was from the administration (superintendent, business manager or in the case of an independent school the principal or head of school)

    In my opinion administrations who are doing a good job have little to fear (in theory) from openness and transparency. I say in theory because (and I quote this as a former school board member and chair) as Mark Twain said “First God created fools. That was for practice. Then He created school boards.” If you have a school board made up of idiots (and your school board clearly is wiser than most because they were smart enough to hire you) I can see where controlling information would be top of mind.

  4. Chris
    on Apr 2nd, 2011
    @ 10:52 pm

    My problem with school administrators blocking social media sites in my school is that my students will still access them using their cell phones, but I (the teacher) can’t use these tools to my advantage!

    I teach AP chemistry. My students have a facebook group dedicated to test preparation, and homework help. They tutor each other online, answer each others’ questions, and even post solutions to review questions online so they can check their work. Since I re-write new tests each term, I’m not too worried about plagiarism and cheating… instead I’m impressed with the resourcefulness of my students, and how they’re working together to solve problems. Aren’t team-work and problem solving two of the skills we want to instill in our students in order for them to succeed in the 21st century? So why are school administrators clinging to their old ways? Very frustrating indeed!

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Chris, Great point about students using the sites on their cell phones.

    I wish I had thought of that. :)

  5. Michelle Howell-Martin
    on Apr 3rd, 2011
    @ 8:10 am

    That kind of thinking goes hand in hand with the statement that a former college president made: “Computers are just a fad.” It also promotes teachers using their own smartphones/home computers to make end-runs around district blocking and using Twitter and Facebook to share what their students are learning. I hope that they’ll catch up eventually!

    Here’s something that I found ironic. We received an e-mail with links to the state’s Twitter and Facebook accounts (obviously so that we could “Friend” and “Follow” the DOE and stay constantly updated) but my district won’t let us access them. Go figure!

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Michelle Howell-Martin, Ugh.

  6. Sandy Kline
    on Apr 3rd, 2011
    @ 9:27 am

    Where did these folks come from? Don’t they realize the more that things are hidden, the more eager kids/parents/community stakeholders/reporters are to find them?

    Transparency is the best policy. If you’re above-board in everything you do, you have nothing to worry about.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Sandy Kline, You couldn’t be more right.

    If you have nothing to hide…

  7. Christine Ontko "Miss Christie"
    on Apr 4th, 2011
    @ 7:31 am

    As I type this (from my little island where I live and teach) my students are blogging and I am responding to your blog.

    Some folks are just afraid of change. The thing that we changelings can do, is continue our work. We can’t force others to get on board, but we can model for them. Your writing – via the Internet – is one such way. Isn’t it great that you are in a warm, sunny place on a balcony far, far away, and I’m on my little island in Lake Erie, and we can communicate with each other?

    Just keep on doin’ what you’re doin. I will, too. (…from my little island where I live and teach.)

  8. Alicia Kessler
    on Apr 6th, 2011
    @ 8:38 am

    So it’s kinda…..”By gum, I’m running this district and it’s none of your beeswax what’s going on, and I’ll tell you what your opinion is!! Bah! Social Media indeed!”

  9. Aaron
    on Apr 7th, 2011
    @ 5:29 pm

    I am not sure about you but I think covering stuff up, restricting access and limiting exposure takes a lot of time, energy, and effort which I believe is seldom worth it. I thought our job as educators was to help prepare students for the realities of the “real world”. Yes there needs to be support (for teachers and students) to deal with all that the everchanging “real world” entails but never forget Darwin’s theory about creatures that do not adapt to change.

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