Category Archives: New York Times

Telling a Story Beyond Grades

“Grades do not tell the story of a child.”

Most educators, parents, and human beings would agree with this statement.  Yet how are we helping change this narrative, and encouraging and empowering students to tell their own story?

The beautiful thing about this time in the world is that it is becoming so much easier to make this happen, but it is also becoming more important.

In 2011, I read this post on Forbes titled, “5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 years“,  and here is a snippet from the article:

By claiming your web presence, you’re protected from other people, with the same name, claiming it before you. You also gain control over how you’re perceived online, and thus what employers find out about you when they conduct their search.

So here we are, five years later, and are we recognizing and embracing this opportunity for our students?

This just isn’t employers though either.  Post-secondary institutions are now paying more attention.  In 2013, this article, “They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets“, was posted on the New York Times website.  But is the focus of the article and in what we share in school more about what not to do?

In an effort to help high school students avoid self-sabotage online, guidance counselors are tutoring them in scrubbing their digital identities. At Brookline High School in Massachusetts, juniors are taught to delete alcohol-related posts or photographs and to create socially acceptable email addresses…Likewise, high school students seem to be growing more shrewd, changing their searchable names on Facebook or untagging themselves in pictures to obscure their digital footprints during the college admission process.

As one college student told me, their advice from their professor was to “do nothing dumb online so they won’t lose a job.” I asked, “why don’t they encourage you to share awesome stuff so you can get one?”

Many schools are looking at ways that they can embrace different types of “portfolio” programs, yet many of them are hidden from anyone other than the school community and parents at home.  They do nothing in helping with developing a child’s digital footprint, and become in some ways a “digital dump”. This is why I am such a big advocate of using blogs as digital portfolios, knowing that they are not limited in mediums, but can prove to be useful after a child’s time in school, while helping to build a positive footprint, while also being easily transferable.

No employer is asking to see a student’s Edmodo account.  It may be useful for school (and I have seen teachers use this in classes for so many awesome things), but is it helping kids after?  This is an extremely important question.  Many of these sites are in some ways like using “training wheels” for a digital footprint, yet what opportunities are being provided long term?

We should never allow our children to be reduced to a letter or number, yet we need to ensure that we help them along the way. I think it is important that we understand some students would not want to post things online, and this is something that needs to be taken into account, but we should at least be guiding them and helping them understand the opportunities that exist.

(This image is from an old post below…hopefully it give some ideas of where to start.)

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