NJ School Principal Against Social Media Ban | Blogger of the Week

“As educators it is our task to teach students how to make responsible decisions, think critically, solve problems and communicate effectively in order to succeed in society.” -Principal Sheninger, @NMHS_Principal

Every week, I highlight an edublogger and teacher leader that I find especially inspirational, creative, and innovative. This week’s blogger of the week, Eric Sheninger, encompasses all these things and more. Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in New Jersey, is a Google certified educational administrator, innovative and outspoken leader, and advocate of web 2.0 and social media in the classroom. His use and support for twitter as a collaborative learning tool landed him a spot on an educational panel at the 140 Character Conference. If you missed the panel, click here and also check out his interview.


“Banning is the Easy Way Out”

Sheninger’s blog, A Principal’s Reflections, serves as a reflective portfolio of his views on “educational leadership, effective technology integration, best practices, and creating a student-centered learning culture”. It is a must read for teachers, academic advisors, principals and administrators alike. The post that stuck out to me this week, Banning is the Easy Way Out, was in direct response to the widespread media coverage of the NJ principal that asked parents to ban social media.

While Sheninger commends Principal Orsini for exhibiting a genuine concern for the safety of his students, he doesn’t agree that banning social media is the best approach to cyberbullying, and compares Orsini’s actions to those taken during prohibition. Sheninger admits that a few years ago, he might have joined Orsini in leading a ban on social media in and out of school, but after witnessing the incredible power of these tools to transform learning, student engagement, and professional development he whole heartedly disagrees with Orsini’s approach.

Instead, Sheninger advocates for social media in the classroom, stating that educators have amazing new tools at their fingertips to meaningfully engage students in the learning process. Sheninger believes that social media and web 2.0 tools provide students with “incredible opportunities to create content, collaborate on a global scale, and follow a path of continuous, life-long learning that extends beyond the walls of a school”.

A Teaching Moment

Irresponsible social media use should not discourage educators, students, or parents from taking part in social media. Sheninger advocates that educators and parents approach cybersafety and attack cyberbulling by teaching students about social responsibility, modeling and promoting effective use at home and school, rewriting curriculum and including student perspectives when creating best practices.

What do you think? What are the best ways to end cyberbulling and teach students cybersafety?

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