The entire Sewickley community recently had the opportunity to hear from Jesse Miller, a Canada-based expert on the use of social media by young people. Mr. Miller taught us all, parents, students and faculty alike, about appropriate and self-affirming uses of social media while reminding us that social media, by its nature a public, sharing, open form of media, can expose us to being perceived differently than we see ourselves or mean to be seen.
To the great credit of the Academy, we have had a progressive, responsible, well-reasoned social media policy for more than a year. Our policy speaks to our values as a community and our mission and resonates particularly well with Mr. Miller's message of thoughtful and respectful use.
Two notions in our social media policy merit a deeper consideration in light of Mr. Miller's presentation. First, our policy calls on all members of the Academy community to use good judgment and to be respectful whenever using social media. In this way, SA extends its teachings about our Community of Respect beyond the walls of the campus in ways that are appropriate. Mr. Miller noted that some students' Instagram accounts connect those students both to photos taken at the Academy and to photos taken elsewhere that are, perhaps, less reflective of their true values than the photos suggest. This reality reminds us that adults in the community have a responsibility to never assume the work of teaching about appropriate use is complete.
Because social media is an inherently public forum, our policy calls on members of the SA community to think about responsible and ethical use of social media platforms and to be mindful of the complexities inherent in teacher-student, teacher-parent, teacher-teacher, student-student, parent-parent and other relationships. I am especially proud of one notion within out policy that says "share and interact in a way that will enhance your reputation, the reputation of others, and the reputation of the school, rather than damage them."
Writing on her blog "The Innovative Educator," Lisa Nielsen shared two recent infographics on social media use that inform my teaching and leadership practice. In the first, she helps students understand that "sometimes forever is bad!" Reminding all of us that no matter what we might want, once something is posted, it is no longer yours to own and control. In the second, she offers her thoughts on helping students create and manage their digital footprint. Mr. Miller points out that it is increasingly common for employers and universities to search online for information about applicants and that broadcast-oriented social media sites like Twitter are particularly easy to mine for information on students' online values. Students who are thoughtful about their digital footprint are likely to present to the public their best selves. This is our goal as educators.