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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teacher Tuesday: The rewards of social media

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Facebook sometimes gets a bad rap.  Everybody who is hip and tech savvy seems to have a Facebook or Facebook page while the rest consider it a waste of time and an invasion of privacy.  Granted, some people spend way too much time reading news feeds and posting statuses that no one cares about.  Worse still are those who upload photos that no one wants or needs to see.  Photos of children are freely posted without regard for the potential of some pedophile somewhere using the photo or information in some perverse or criminal way.

All that said, I too, have joined the bazillions on Facebook.  I have more "friends" than a person could ever keep up with, and I take an hour now and then to scroll down the news feed to find out what is happening out there with people I rarely see in person.  It's an excellent way to keep up with people I would never see or hear from.

But the best thing about it?  I get to be in touch with former students I would never hear from otherwise.  And what I learn is the best reward a teacher could ask for.

I see them grown up now with families and careers and surprising maturity.  For the most part, I didn't teach the "gifted" kids or the "honors" kids; I mostly taught the ones who struggled through high school, the ones who might have dropped out without my special dropout intervention program.  Many of these kids were labeled underachievers and troublemakers by teachers and administrators who should have known better.  It speaks volumes when some of these kids call themselves "rejects" or "losers" because they have not been successful in school.  In my opinion, school has failed them, and not the other way around.  I spent a lot of my time defending these kids to the very system which prides itself on educating every child.  All too often many kids do get "left behind" in the quest for school district recognition.

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This is actually a graduation photo from the school where I used to teach.  The young lady in the center is one of my former Sunday School students!

Anyway, back to Facebook.  What better reward could a teacher have than to see posts by former students describing their service in the military, their careers, their children, their spouses, and their homes?  I love finding out that my kids (students) have grown up into responsible citizens and family members.  Facebook gives me a window into the world of my former students that I would never have had before.  

I have discovered that my former students are now electricians, plumbers, mechanics, contractors, singer/songwriters, nurses, massage therapists, police officers, gun dealers, photographers, real estate brokers, weather forecasters, business owners, lab technicians, firefighters, landscapers, fence builders, teachers, legal assistants, car salesmen, computer technicians, cowboys, professional cheerleader director, and the list goes on.

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One of my more famous former students at graduation:  Miranda Lambert.
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Another famous student:  future Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders director  Kelly McGonagill Finglass.

So, however self-absorbed today's generation may be, I'm glad that they are giving me glimpses into their successful lives.

XOXO