It was a true honour to write the foreword for Jennifer Casa-Todd’s book, “Social Leadia“. Although I have already read it, I wanted to go through it again through Kindle and highlight some of my favourite quotes. It is an amazing book to really promote important conversations on not only “digital citizenship” in schools, but going further to “digital leadership“.
What I love most about the book is how Jennifer seamlessly weaves in her thinking, the thinking of others, while also highlighting student examples and quotes. This quote from Timmy Sullivan, a student at the time, is quite powerful:
“I have a radical concept for you, especially those of you who talk negatively about social media: Stop. Really. If you present social media as a positive space, as a place where students can express themselves and connect with professionals and other students, then that’s the type of learning you are going to see there.” — Timmy Sullivan
Sage advice from a student leading the way in his own learning, as well within his school. No offense to Jennifer, but there is just something about when the quotes come from a student that makes them so much more powerful. In my conversations with Jennifer, I know she would agree, hence the reason she wanted to highlight so many students throughout the book, and she weaves their narratives throughout the book masterfully. It is a powerful read.
Jennifer also doesn’t shy away from some tough conversations throughout the book. This quote really resonated on why it is so important to give students opportunities to use social media within schools:
I know that out of the thirty students in any one of my classes, less than half have solid family support. Few sit down at a dinner table with their families each night, and some have so many other issues to contend with that creating a website that explores their passions, developing a positive online presence, or improving someone else’s life in person or through technology or social media is completely inconsequential. I am gravely concerned that if we don’t provide opportunities in all schools for all students to become digital leaders, we’ll have students at an additional disadvantage, especially if they don’t have digital access at home.
The equity conversation comes up often and I appreciate Jennifer addressing it. Reading a comment from an educator recently, they had stated something that I have heard often; some of this use of technology will identify the “have’s and have not’s”. The tough conversation here is that ignoring technology and the opportunities it provides with our students truly address this long term or does it simply put our students in a tougher situation and make the divide much larger?
I address this very thing in “The Innovator’s Mindset“:
Another concern often voiced in response to innovative initiatives is that the new program or approach might create superior learning opportunities—opportunities that aren’t offered in another learning environment. If what’s best for learners is our primary concern, equity of opportunities will be created at the highest of levels, not the lowest.
Equity at the highest level, not simply equity, is something that we should always strive for in education. Every student should have the best opportunities to learn in ways that will help them now and in the future. The conversations that Jennifer brings up on her own throughout the book, as well through the experiences of the students she highlights in her books are ones that are necessary as we move forward.
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