February 27, 2008
Who are the experts?
This evening I was an invited guest speaker for a Charleston, SC high school (Wando High School–Charleston County School District) who had a terrific parent workshop for social networking and teens. I conducted my same portion in November at my own school, and was asked by one of the two LMS’s (Emilie Woody and Laura Judson) to visit their school and present the same content at their school. I said I would, but I made some recommendations that they used whole-heartedly. When I had mine at my school, I was the sole speaker. (In my defense, my session was only to be 30 minutes, and parents could attend 3 of about six planned workshop topics.) But when all the parents came to mine first, my principal asked me to do a 45 minutes session, and then opened it up for parents to ask questions. (We had a good event, but I knew it could have been better. I had only prepared for a brief session that I would supposedly repeat a couple of times that evening, and it was adjusted on the spot to be much more. Although I wasn’t fully prepared for what i was asked to do, we used collective wisdom of the audience to generate answers to questions asked.)
So I suggested to Emilie, my primary contact, that the workshop needed to have a panel, and that panel needed to have a variety of representation, including perhaps teachers, parents, guidance counselors, perhaps administrators, school resource officer, any one that may have dealt with issues related to teens and social networking. Emilie put together a fantastic expert panel that went way beyond even what I was suggesting. The panel included me and:
- Kat Hagood, a computer forensic expert
- Kristin Millonzi, an attorney
- Sgt. Trish Taylor, Charleston County Police Department expert on online safety
- Lisa Poston, college admissions advisor (Citadel, I believe)
- Dr. Chris Starr, parent & Computer Science Professor, College of Charleston
- Susan Shrankle, therapist, social worker, author of What in the World are Your Kids Doing Online.
- and Four OUTSTANDING senior students who came from a variety of backgrounds, including average teen, academic scholar, female athlete, and student government representative type.
We began the evening with a dinner that was catered by the Wando High School culinary arts students. What an awesome way to include other organizations in a program! Even though these kids and their instructors were not directly involved in the program, they planned and executed a meal that I swear was restaurant quality, and they fed us in their “bistro,” a small dining room that allowed the panelists to chat and get to know each other before the event. That was a wise move as it put us at ease on stage, and allowed us to see what expertise we were bringing to the panel, and also let us know who may be better qualified to answer posed questions. A wise move indeed.
I am not a good counter for activities, but there was an auditorium FULL of interested community members and parents. I spoke for roughly 35 minutes, and then it was turned over to the panel. Many parents and community members came and asked a lot of great questions that were easily answered by the panel experts. At just before 9:00, Emilie had to tell the lines of parents at the microphones we would only be able to entertain three more questions. But she promised the crowd that plans were underway to have another similar event in the fall. Parents were very pleased with the activity, and students were also pleased to have a voice in the discussion, both from the audience and the panel.
The absolute BEST part of the night had to be the students on the panel. They were the true “experts” in the mix, and they were absolutely amazing. The panel Emilie put together was made up of authorities on the topic that represented groups impacted by social networking. I grabbed some great ideas for the next time I conduct this workshop.
My hope in writing this post tonight (I started it late last night, and am finishing tonight) is that other educators (be it LMS’s, teachers, administrators, or whatever organization works with kids and is responsible for learning) will be able to read about last night’s parent workshop, and create their very own very successful workshop. See her flier too–it’s really cool. myspaceflyer2.pdf