Staying relevant through social media is one teacher’s way of influencing his students
I was always an early adopter of technology, as evident from the seven digit ICQ number from my younger days (remember that instant messaging computer programme from the late 1990s? “ICQ” stands for “I seek you”). However, I became cautious about the use of technology when I realised the impact of using it without care.
It has only been in recent years that I started to dabble in it again. As a teacher, I meet youths daily; I challenge myself to be relevant so as to communicate effectively with them. What better way can we reach a generation that is connected 24/7?
While I have a Facebook account for personal friends, I started a separate account purely for quick communication with my students, such as reminding them about upcoming tests. Initially, very few students added me as friends; so I got the ball rolling by inviting them as my friends.
“While I have a Facebook account for personal friends, I started a separate account purely for quick communication with my students, such as reminding them about upcoming tests. Initially, very few students added me as friends; so I got the ball rolling by inviting them as my friends.”
I chose to remain extremely “inactive” by reading student’s posts so I would know what was going on. I hardly commented on posts. This resulted in more students adding or accepting my “friend requests” as I was deemed safe and non-judgemental. After establishing this reputation, I began to selectively comment on some of my student’s posts, especially to encourage those who were stressed.
It was through this that near an examination period, I chanced upon one student’s comment about his perceived unfair and unreasonable treatment in school. In his anger, he left very rude remarks about some teachers.
Before word spread and got out of control, I quickly replied to his post, appealing him to look at things from a different angle in a way that did not judge his action. The conversation went back and forth a little as I challenged his assumption and worldview, trying to bring across a much wider perspective.
Still, the affected teachers eventually got wind of his post and confronted him in the most diplomatic way possible. After a few days, he took down his post and apologised to the affected parties.
The most comforting thing was that in taking down his post, he left a message which indicated that my comments had in some ways influenced his thinking. That then resulted in him removing his post on his own accord.
With the easy availability of knowledge through the internet, youths today can be very opinionated, but their opinions can also be very biased. Our task is to supplement their knowledge, help them see a different outlook, and let them critically think and decide what is good and right for themselves.
Article by Kok Heng Hwai. Heng Kwai has been in the education industry for almost 15 years and is now teaching in Bishan Park Secondary School. He teaches Physical Education and Principles of Accounts and is passionate about holistic education.