Administrators and teachers at Red Bank Charter School are no strangers to the constantly evolving technology and social media world. Every day they hear students discussing a video they viewed on YouTube, or a funny meme from Instagram. Some even incorporate social media carefully into lesson plans and homework reminders.
They’re also aware, however, that there are two sides to the technology coin, and that social media’s darker side shouldn’t be ignored. For that reason, RBCS hosted a Social Media Smarts Workshop, which brought its 6th-8th grade students together with local high school students from Red Bank Regional High School for interactive discussions. The Social Media Smarts Workshop — led by current RBR students Jessica Hansen and Teicia Gaupp, with Nicole Paventi, certified Teen Outreach Program facilitator and former RBR student — was held at Red Bank Charter School on Wednesday, April 13.
RBCS held its first series of Social Media Workshops last year, during which both parents and students separately participated in presentation and open discussion in response to the dozens of negative social media stories that surface on a daily basis. In today’s society, cyber bullying is a much larger threat than in-person bullying, so much so that the majority of states (34) have enacted laws against the offense. However, the educational component about what cyber bullying is and why it’s wrong is still lacking in most places. RBCS is striving to change that.
“We had several high school students come in as Workshop Leaders,” said Teicia Gaupp. “They engaged with our 60 participating students in small groups to openly discuss social media risks, rewards, responsibilities and the difference between ‘in real life’ and virtual relationships.”
RBCS coordinated with RBR staff and students prior to the Workshop to provide a curriculum for their mini-sessions and lead discussions in an engaging manner. This format of working with their more experienced peers promotes honest and open dialog among the students and their group leaders. They will be using the information they learn to formulate a personal set of “best practices” for engaging on social media moving forward.