I teach middle school music in Greensboro, North Carolina. Being a music teacher allows me to see my kids grow up in a way that other teachers don’t. I see one student grow from a 5th grader to an 8th grader, from a kid to a teenager. It often reminds me of how fun and confusing being a middle school student was.
Technology is a huge part of my students’ lives. Each of them has their own personal laptop for school. Most of their grades, homework, and communication with teachers are done through that laptop. By the time they hit 8th Grade, almost all of my students have a cell phone. Not just a cell phone, but a smart phone.
Once students get a cell phone, I notice some major changes- They huddle around their phone to watch videos, they talk about the importance of subscribers and followers, they dissect the social media of their peers, they all have their phones next to them when they’re in a social situation, they are expected to communicate with parents and friends instantly, their language about apps and technology increases, they take selfies, they try to follow me on Instagram, they talk about YouTube and Instagram influencers who are famous on their platform, they struggle to communicate hard conversations in person and instead use technology for those moments.
As I look at this list, I realize that 100% of those things are true for me too, the grown up in the room, the role model for these kids.
Catherine Steiner-Adair, the author of the book The Big Disconnect, came to speak to our faculty, students and parents. I thought she was going to focus on the students- talking to them about the effects of social media, of technology, of texting.
My biggest take away was this- I want to be face to face with these kids as much as possible, talk to them, hold them, play with them. I admit I don’t do this enough. I haven’t found a good balance yet. I’m on my phone too much. I’ll keep working to get there and I invite you to join me.