Category Archives: #DigitalLeadership

“You have the world at your fingertips…”


This is a message I have been sharing with students for the past few years, as instant across the globe has become easier each day.  If you truly think about it, the technology that we today is the worst that it is going to be from this day forward.  We lament that the iPhone 6 Plus is not that much better than the iPhone 6, but considering how far along the iPhone has come from it’s original iteration, or even existing at all, it is pretty amazing to see what has developed in such a short amount of time.

Yet when it comes to technology, what do we focus on with our students?  We talk about things such as “digital citizenship” and “cyberbullying” that more of our focus is on what they shouldn’t do, not necessarily what they could and should do.  

Take for example,  the WestHighBros Twitter account.  This is a student that saw cyberbullying in his school and what did he decide?  Not that he wouldn’t bully others, but the opposite; that he would lift them out. Jeremiah Anthony, the student that first started the account, started complimenting students in his school.  Not only did he make a positive impact, but in fact, he totally changed trajectories for some:

While standing in the pizza line during lunch one day, Anthony was surprised to receive a hug from a classmate. Caugh off guard, Anthony asked why she was hugging him. With tears in her eyes, the young girl looked at Anthony and said “I was going to kill myself, but I saw your compliment to me on my Facebook page and I realized how dumb it’d be to kill myself and that I do have worth and people to care about me.”

Her story isn’t unique. “Unfortunately — or maybe fortunately — that’s happened numerous times,” said Anthony. He has heard story by story of students who are so encouraged by the simple words of kindness they receive from @Westhighbros that they are convinced suicide is not the answer. (Foster, 2013)


He decided that this media is a way for us to not only make a difference locally (in his own school), but this account inspired students (and adults) around the world to use technology in a way to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Start local, impact global.

We need to shift the focus from developing the leaders of tomorrow, to developing our students as the leaders of today.  There is too much time spent on talking about the possibilities of tomorrow, without focusing on the access that all of us has to make a positive impact.  One of my favourite quotes is from a good friend Shelley Wright who says, “Kids often defy expectations if you give them the opportunity.”  If we want to ensure a better tomorrow, let’s help our students lead today. Seems like a much better way to guarantee the positive future that can be created.

(If you have never seen this video, please check it out below, and PLEASE share it with your students. We need to put these ideas in front of our students.”

Focusing on What We Can Do

I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of students in Schuyler (pronounced Skylar which I was corrected on several times!), Nebraska, last week, and I was overwhelmed by their kindness and positivity.  I focused on the topic of “Digital Leadership”, which essentially focuses on the opportunities that are in front of our students to make a difference in the world.  Although I discuss how to be safe and topics such as cyberbullying, the main emphasis of the talk is “you have the world at your fingertips, what are you going to do with it?”

After the talk, several of the students came up to me and thanked me for not only my positive message, but that they had the feeling that I believed in them.  We had some great conversations and I later discussed them with the group of teachers that I was learning with.  This came back to the students, and they actually offered to bring me a Starbucks to the professional learning day, which was unbelievably kind of them, especially since the closest Starbucks was about 30 minutes away!

They then gave me the following note:

This is now something that I carry in my computer bag along with me. My favourite part? “Keep doin you!”

Too often, the narrative with our students is what they can’t do, and I think we need to really focus on what they can do, and help them see leadership opportunities today, not tomorrow.  We need to focus on the positives and how people are making the lives of others better, like the Clemson football team holding a pep rally at the home of a terminally ill child.  We need to put more of these ideas in the minds of our students.

I look forward to following these students using social media to make a positive difference in the school community at the Schuyler Spirit Club twitter account.

I also wanted to say thanks to those students that went out of their way, to make someone’s day. You have no idea how greatly appreciated it is.