How to Help Your Parents Navigate Social Media

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How to Help Your Parents Navigate the World of Social Media

It has always been a challenge raising children but in today’s networked, always connected world it is even harder. Social media has opened up a whole new frontline in the battle for our children’s minds and hearts.

Wringing our hands will not help our parents. Condemning the evils of the Internet and social media will not help them. Suggesting that they unplug is wrong and unrealistic.

Our responsibility is to provide them and their children with biblical and practical ideas on how to use social media in a Christ honoring fashion. We should prayerfully strive to teach them to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” including thoughts and practices related to the use of social media.

Rather than write an article about how best to help parents, I thought it might be just as helpful to share the outline of a talk I have prepared for our Elementary PTF. It certainly can be improved and expanded upon but perhaps it will provide you some talking points for your own presentations. Keep in the mind that the following are talking points, it is not a written article so the format and punctuation will reflect its purpose.

How to Help Your Children Navigate the World of Social Media *PTF Talking Points**

Why We Create Technology

Animals do not create technology nor to they create culture and civilizations. Only man creates technology. Why? What enables and compels human beings to create tools or technology?

We Are Made in God’s Image

We create, including technology, because we are like God, we bear his image, we share in some of his attributes some of his abilities. Genesis 1:1–25 describes God’s creative work and at the end of each creative act Mose’s writes, “And God saw that it was good.” And then Moses describes God’s creation of man:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Gen. 1:26a)

When the Bible describes man as made in God’s image it means that God made man a little like himself. We are, to put it lightly, “chips off the old block.” God, the Creator of all that exists, saw fit to share with us many of his divine attributes. Like God, we too are spiritual beings. We are able to love. We have a kind of moral freedom. And we are able to create.

We create wheels, space stations, and smartphones because we are like our Creator. Technology is an expression of that creativity in practical ways that can make our lives better and in doing so beings honor to the Creator whose image or likeness we bear.

Technology is Neutral, We Are Not

But like everything we touch, sin corrupts our use of God’s good gifts. Technology is morally neutral, but how it is used is not. Our challenge is not to run away from technology but to use it for good.

Benefits of Social Media

• Connecting with friends and family
• Rapid communication
• Sharing and preserving memories  

Challenges of Social Media

• Loneliness in a crowd
• We leave digital breadcrumbs and lose privacy
• From our children’s earliest ages pictures posted by parents and relatives are in the public domain. There is no longer a childhood refuge of privacy while growing up  
• Cyber bullying  

Biblical Principles to Teach Your Children

• The Golden Rule:  

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Mat. 7:12

• Whatever is Excellent:  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8

• A Good Reputation:  

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. Prov. 22:1

• Bad company corrupts good morals (including online company):  

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals. 1 Cor. 15:33

General Principles to Teach Your Children

• Don’t ignore real people and those with you.
• Do not text, email, chat, record, or do anything else through social media you would not do in person or you would not say in front of your parents or pastor.
• If you mess up we will “ground” your use of technology and social media. We will talk about it, learn from it, and start fresh. 
• Don’t gossip about others online.  

Tips for Parents to Follow

• Be a parent
• Set clear standards
• Be a good example
• Use social media as a good excuse or vehicle to teach important biblical principles and wisdom:  

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut. 6:6ff

• Control connected friends just like physical friends
• Monitor  

Rules to Enforce with Your Children

• It is the parent’s device it is on loan to them.  
• You can always inspect the device(s) and you should.  
• You will always know the password for every device and internet site and service.  
• Have all devices turned into you at bedtime. Don’t leave them in your child’s room at night.  
• Limit time on devices.  
• If the device is lost or damaged make your child pay or work to replace it.  

How To Deal with Cyber Bullying

• Don’t always assume it’s someone else’s child. YOUR children and MINE are sinful. They lie. They can bully others.  
• If a parent contacts you about your child’s online behavior listen (be quick to hear, slow to speak) and don’t seek to defend—seek the truth--so that you can respond biblically to the parent and your child.  
• Teach, discipline, and restrict if your child abuses others through social media.  
• Don’t ask the school to do your job, e.g., dealing with other parents. We are here to help but we cannot police the Internet nor deal with everything that happens outside of school. That is your responsibility. Don’t try to avoid conflict with other parents by asking the school to handle situations that occur after school hours and that are your responsibility.  
• If your child is being bullied online: contact the child's parents. Speak the truth, as you understand it, in love. Listen to make sure you have the full story.
• If your child is being bullied online, have your child unfriend, unfollow, block texts, etc., from the perpetrator(s). Don’t allow them to stay in the firing line!  
• When appropriate, e.g., the abuse occurs during school hours or during a school event, report it to parents and to a teacher, coach, or principal.  

Tools You Can Use

http://mashable.com/2013/08/09/how-to-prevent-porn-sexting/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link.

• K9 Web Protection
• STOP P-O-R-N
• Safe Eyes
• FamilyShield
• UKnowKids.com
• Change Search Settings on the Browser
• User Block  

Parents desire and need our help. Be proactive and reach out to them through a presentation, a workshop or an article. They will appreciate it.

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18 Ways to Make YOUR Superintendent Very Unhappy

angry mad

Eighteen Ways to Make YOUR Superintendent Very Unhappy
Guest Article, Bruce Johnson

Things brought to him as superintendent for almost three decades.

  1. Gossip in the Teachers’ Room and don’t hold anyone accountable for anything they say (and don’t let anyone hold you accountable for anything you say).

  2. Trust students (or your spouse) to keep confidences about other students or staff.

  3. Break confidences that you have with parents by “sharing” with other parents, co-workers or your spouse.

  4. Keep confidences you shouldn’t keep (moral, ethical, legal).

  5. Discuss students with other student’s parents.

  6. Miss deadlines for grades or reports – or anything else – if you feel you have something more important to do.

  7. Teach whatever you want to teach – regardless of the approved curriculum.

  8. Be tardy to devotions, staff meetings and class.

  9. Question everything – all the time – after all, you know better than anyone else.

  10. Tell everyone else before you tell your administrator any complaints you may have about the school or him – or her.

  11. Make excuses for your mistakes and never, ever take responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

  12. Don’t volunteer for anything at any time, no matter how much everyone else is doing or how much your assistance is needed.

  13. Ask for special favors and exceptions to policies that apply to everyone else.

  14. Don’t dress or act professionally – and complain if you disagree with any guidelines, decisions regarding curriculum or anything else.

  15. Don’t be careful what you say or how you say it to students or your co-workers.

  16. Recognize that the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23 does not apply to you.

  17. Don’t be loyal to the Lord, or school, or each other.

  18. Remember that the school is fortunate to have you on staff.

8 Important Words to Use as a Leader

Communication TalkThe pen is mightier than the sword. Edward Bulwer-Lytton

My life was unalterably changed by a few words. I was, at the time, an average student. I did what was necessary to get by but my academic ambitions and motivation were limited.

None of my family had attended college and some had not graduated from high school. I never recall hearing the word college in my home. In fact, education was so undervalued in my home that I recall a time when my mother scolded me for using “big words” when I returned home during a college break.

Something remarkable had happened several years before this sad episode with my mother. As I recall, I was a ninth grade student standing in the lunch line when a student tapped me on the shoulder and pronounced, “You would make a great attorney.” The unexpected compliment arose from my performance in English class as the defense attorney defending Brutus’s participation in the assassination of Julius Caesar. Was Brutus a patriot or traitor? I argued that his actions were noble, animated by his desire to protect the Roman Republic from dictatorship. A jury of ninth grade English students acquitted him.

Those few words, “You would make a great attorney,” caused me to think about college for the first time in my life. From that point forward I applied myself to my studies and went on to earn a doctorate. My life would have been dramatically different but for those few words of encouragement.

The moral of this story is that words are powerful—they can change a life or a school for good or bad. The start of a new school year is a good time to consider the words we use as leaders. It is a good time to unsheathe your most powerful leadership tool—your words.

These words or communication traits will make you a wiser person and more effective leader.

Empathy

Strive to put yourself in the other person’s shoes no matter how obnoxious their words or actions may be. This will give you a better perspective. As Becky Gaylord points out: “empathy leads to rational, thoughtful solutions.” Empathy has a calming and a rational impact on any conversation and is consistent with these two biblical principles:

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Mat. 7:12

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil. 2:4

Employ the Wise Use of Humor

Appropriate humor reduces tension and can put all parties at ease in a difficult situation. Humor also makes for a more enjoyable workplace and is a great way to start a presentation. Interlacing appropriate and well timed humor into any conversation or presentation will increase effectiveness and help you connect with others.

Yes

No one likes to hear “no.” Although sometimes “no” is necessary, it is probably less necessary than you think. Sometimes we say “no” not because it is necessary but because it is easier. “Yes,” can create more work or complications for us. While saying yes may produce more work in the short-term, remember that a history of wise “yes” responses makes the necessary “nos” more palatable and leads to long-term positive relationships and school culture.

Please

No matter how exalted your position, “please” is almost always appropriate. Hopefully you learned this as a young child. Saying please is not only polite, it has the benefit of making it easier for people to accept a directive. While compliance may not be optional, saying please demonstrates courtesy and humility. Saying please makes it easier for others to comply willingly.

Thank you

Thankfulness is a constant theme in the Bible. We are admonished to be thankful and to express thankfulness. Never miss an opportunity to thank students, parents, employees, or vendors.

Listen, Really Listen

Our natural tendency is to talk. It is far wiser to follow the biblical command to “be quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19), which was paraphrased by Steven Covey who said, “seek first to understand and then to be understood.” Listening leads to understanding, empathy, and better decisions and relationships. Click here for tips on how to actively listen.

Trust

While a leader must avoid being uniformed or naive, start with trust. This is the position that great leaders start from when dealing with others. Assume the best, give the judgment of charity, for Paul writes:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor. 13:4–7

I am Sorry

Saying I’m sorry is the handmaiden of humility. If we are humble we will quickly acknowledge our mistakes and sins and readily apologize. Pride does not say I am sorry. Becky Gaylord is correct when she asserts, “This word has prevented lawsuits, mended friendships and almost surely avoided wars. Too many bosses don’t use it — or know the magic it can create. Great leaders know it, and use it.”

Your words are the most powerful leadership tool you have. Use them wisely.

Why Real Men Keep a Journal

Pen Paper

I thought keeping a journal, aka a diary, was for girls or that it was an exercise in narcissistic navel gazing. I’m not sure where I got those notions. Perhaps I absorbed them from TV shows or movies where the majority of journal keepers are portrayed by the feminine gender. Regardless of how I came to those conclusions, I was wrong.

I was convinced of the value of keeping a journal by an article titled 30 Days to a Better Man Day 8: Start a Journal published in The Art of Manliness, a journal I discovered several months ago. Refreshingly, unlike most “men’s journals”, The Art of Manliness is not filled with bikini clad women and articles on how to improve your sex life. Instead, it focuses on substantive and practical topics such as How to Whistle with Your Fingers, Latin Words and Phrases Every Man Should Know, How to Take a Punch, Outfitted & Equipped: Working at a Coffee Shop, and How to Accept a Compliment With Class.

What immediately caught my attention in the the article on journaling was the list of famous/infamous men who kept journals:

  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Charles Darwin
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Captain Cook
  • Winston Churchill
  • Sir Edmund Hilary
  • Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

I figured if Lewis and Clark and Captain Cook can keep a journal then it can’t be too sissified! The author also sets forth the benefits of journal keeping. Each person will have his or her own reasons but for me they include:

  • It helps one remember events and people. I have a poor memory. Keeping a journal helps me remember the events and people God has used to shape my life.

  • It facilitates reflection. I may reflect a bit more deeply on my devotions, on what I have learned from some event or person, or on my blessings. Reflecting on my blessings has been an unexpected soul enriching blessing in and of itself.

  • I can chronicle what I have learned professionally as a school leader. Learning from one’s experiences is invaluable but requires a few minutes to stop and reflect. Journaling encourages such reflection.

  • I will leave behind a chronicle for my children and grandchildren. While I’m under no delusion that my children and grandchildren will want to read about my ordinary life, they may want to learn something of my life: the lessons I’ve learned and their heritage. Perhaps the Lord can use it teach them the truth that “man plans his ways but The Lord directs his steps.” That has certainly been true of my life.

What I will not do is use the journal as a confessional, for ranting, for sharing confidential information (aka gossiping) about others, or for navel gazing. My journal is intended to chronicle lessons learned, for recalling and counting my many blessings, and to leave a record of these for my children and grandchildren with the prayer that the Lord will use it to bless them. I will not lie about my struggles nor will I write a propaganda piece designed to put my life in the best light. I will be honest but without wallowing in self-pity or unprofitable and unseemly self-absorption.

There are many tools you can use for journaling. The author suggests several tools from pen and paper to online journals. I am using Day One because it is elegantly designed and has applications that sync the journal with my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. It is also consistent with my paperless workflow.

I wish I had started journaling as a young man. But, better late than never. Start keeping a journal. It’s a manly thing to do.

Swept Away By the Winds of Why

Sand Storm Winds

Guest Article by Mark Kennedy (ACSI Canada)

If you’re in a forest in springtime, watch for something remarkable that seems to be clinging to the base of a tree trunk. It appears to be a gray wingless dragonfly, perfect in shape and detail. But look more closely and you’ll see it is just the outside form of the insect, an ‘exoskeleton’. It has the same appearance superficially, but it’s hollow. The life within it isn’t there and the little skeleton will soon crumble and be swept away by the wind.

Do you remember when we used to talk about “the Judea–Christian Ethic”? If you’re younger than 50, maybe you don’t. In the late 1970s Ontario’s leading educational lights expunge the last vestige of Christianity from public schooling. They put an end to the daily repetition of The Lord’s Prayer. In its place they gave Christian parents a palliative. ‘We will still teach a Judeo-Christian Ethic’, they said, tactfully not mentioning what, or Whom they would leave out. By the term ‘Judeo Christian Ethic’ they meant the moral principles of the 10 Commandments and maybe even of the Sermon on the Mount. And they would do so unashamedly in public schools … more or less … as long as no one objected.

Eventually some people did object of course. “Why do we need this outdated morality?!” They said. For most believers the answer should have been pretty obvious: ‘Because the living God established those moral principles out of love for humanity and concern for our well being.’ It is the response we in Christian schools are still free to give. But since the authority of the God of the Old and New Testament was no longer recognized in public education, no one could come up with a good answer. It was like trying to write a one -question examination where any response is acceptable, except for the right one.

So ‘the Judeo-Christian ethic’ crumbled to dust and vanished, ‘swept away by the winds of ‘Why?’, because a biblically based value system will not last long where people have turned their backs on its source. There’s nothing wrong with the ethic or its morality. People who choose to follow biblical morality are blessed by the results. That’s called ‘common grace’. After 25 years as a principal in ‘open enrollment’ Christian schools I’ve seen many examples where non Christian parents use scriptural principles and morality to build positive attitudes in their children and strong family bonds. And I’ve seen too many Christian families who have ignored those things and regretted the consequences. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I mean that sooner or later an individual or society or educational system that rejects the living God will also reject Christian values and morality because they are contrary to humanity’s unregenerate nature.

And even while the Judeo-Christian ethic is in place, those values by themselves tend to produce graduates baring a Christian façade, a mere system of external behaviors that is as lifeless and frail as those hollow insect skeletons. It makes what C.S. Lewis’ terms, “men without chests”, exactly what Paul warns about in 2 Timothy 3:5, people “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”
In North America today there is an explosion of publicly funded charter schools teaching ‘Christian values’ (I’m not sure where the Judeo part went). But like the Ontario public schools 30 years ago they can’t recognize or honor the source of those values. And even if they hold unswervingly to their convictions, they face one insurmountable question that their students will ask and that school staff are not supposed to answer correctly:

The critical question WHY?

How to Hold Fewer and More Successful Meetings

Meeting clapping success happy productive

Meetings are powerful. Good meetings can forge good relationships, clarify objectives, solve problems, and spur innovation.

Bad meetings are terrible; they frustrate those in attendance, sap energy and enthusiasm, and waste precious time and money. Few people look forward to meetings because most meetings are unproductive and unpleasant.

Meetings can be both effective and enjoyable. Here are simple tips to reduce the number of meetings you have and to improve those you do have.

  1. Begin the meeting with genuine prayer, not a pro forma exercise in religiosity. Remember, “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Since this is true, ask The Lord to grant you wisdom and providential guidance in your deliberations and decisions.
  2. Don’t meet just because it is on the schedule. Generally, regularly scheduled meetings are a bad idea. For meetings to be useful for all in attendance, they need to be necessary. Prior to scheduling the meeting ask: “Does this topic/issue require a sit down meeting or could you simply call, drop by an office or two, have a standup meeting, or handle the topic/issue by email?” I have made a practice of prescheduling an Executive Team meeting each month to protect the time on the calendar should the meeting be necessary. However, I cancel the meeting unless there is a need to meet as indicated below.
  3. Clarify why you are scheduling the meeting. Knowing the objective (e.g. to review a policy issue, clarify objectives, etc.) is essential but not sufficient. You need to be clear why the objective is valuable and worth the time for a sit down meeting. This is the meeting’s intent. Without a powerful intent you can run an efficient meeting but end up with ineffective or minimum out comes. Pre-scheduled faculty meetings often suffer from an ill defined intent and usually end up being both inefficient and ineffective at moving the school forward.
  4. Are the right people in the meeting? Don’t frustrate people by having them in meetings unless their presence is vital. Keep in mind that having people in a meeting merely to “get information” is probably not a good use of their time. Information can be provided in a memo or an email. However, where interaction and in-depth explanations are needed, a meeting may be appropriate. Keep in mind that if the meeting is for the purpose of making a decision, make sure that only decision makers are present and prepared to make an informed decision. Don’t make the mistake of having, what David Pearl calls, “meeting tourists” present.
  5. Don’t try to do everything yourself. It is best to have senior leadership delegate the role of meeting leader to another team member and to assign someone the responsibility to take detailed notes. Senior leaders should focus on asking good questions, listening, and providing top level input.
  6. Encourage everyone’s involvement, especially your wise introverts. Extroverts will speak up but many quieter souls will not. It is often those who are “quick to hear but slow to speak” who have the best insights. Engage them in the discussion and decision making.
  7. Be creative with the types of meetings you have. As David Pearl points out:

    The word ‘meeting’ covers a huge range of diverse interactions. Discussion, debate and decision are all different. Problem-solving is quite distinct from Team-Building. You wouldn’t mix Italian, Mexican and Indian food in a single meal. When we mix these meeting types the results are as unappetizing and indigestible. The simple rule of healthy meeting is: Do one thing well. [1]

    You can have fewer but more productive meetings. Remember to have a clear focus and intent, to have only the right people in the meetings, and consider alternatives to the traditional sit down meeting. Never meet just because it is on the calendar. Purpose and need, not the calendar, should determine whether a meeting is called.

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Sticky Notes and Technology-Helping Teachers in the Classroom

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Guest Article (QuickSchools)

Who doesn’t love sticky notes? Sticky notes are perfect for quickly jotting down notes and ideas, and we can stick them anywhere. We use them every day in our homes and offices, and also in the classroom. There are hundreds of ways that teachers use sticky notes. Here are some classic examples:

–Make a seating chart. Students love the bright colors and teachers can change a student’s seat simply by moving a sticky note.

–Keep notes about students’ progress and stick them in a grade book for easy reference during parent/teacher meetings and end-of-the-semester grading.

–Create a colorful classroom calendar to announce daily activities, school events, and project due dates. Calendars can be easily rearranged using sticky notes.

–Students love sticky notes, so let students use them to write questions and comments and stick them on a special community board.

We love sticky notes because they are colorful, portable, and can accommodate almost any activity, so it is exciting to learn that technology has caught up with the easiness and practicality of the sticky note. With a school management system, teachers can accomplish the same tasks as with sticky notes, only better.

School management software provides a way for teachers to write, organize, and access their notes electronically. Notes can be entered and accessed anywhere, anytime. It eliminates the need for clunky grade books which can be a challenge to keep organized (and can have a bunch of sticky notes hanging out of them).

The classroom forum feature enables students to ask questions and share ideas with the teacher and the class outside of the classroom. The forum can also be used as a fun way to engage students in a classroom conversation or debate using the texting technology that they love.

And school management software not only helps teachers, but it helps parents and students, too. They have access to the classroom calendar, assignments, projects, grades, and attendance right from their home computer.

Another tremendous benefit of school management software over sticky notes is that it is always available. Teachers don’t have to wait to get back to their classrooms, students don’t have to wait to get help, and parents can keep track of their student’s assignments and progress on a daily basis.

Sticky notes will always be used in the classroom in colorful displays and as fun bulletin boards. But when it comes to classroom organization, accessibility, and communication, then school management software is the best tool to help schools, teachers, and students succeed.

For more information about how QuickSchools school management software can help your school, visit QuickSchools.com.

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