Manitoba teachers take different approaches to social media platform TikTok in classrooms
These kids are growing up in a different time, Winnipeg teacher says
Shaftesbury High School teacher Rebecca Chambers says she only uses social media in her classroom for specific research purposes.
One day, she was walking to her classroom when she saw one of her students dancing.
"I said … 'Are you guys doing a TikTok?' And they were like … 'Maybe?' And I started yelling … 'No TikTok!' in a joking, stern way. Which they all laughed, put their phones away and got back to work," Chambers said.
The video made its rounds on TikTok earlier this month.
Chambers wasn't angry — she thought it was hilarious. She even shared a tweet about it.
"This is not a situation where I'm going to get super mad, but I am going to make sure they know … there's no filming TikToks in class."
Deerwood School teacher Sarah Schroeder, from Thompson, Man., uses TikTok as an educational tool in her classes.
One of her yearly projects is a making TikTok video for a social cause students are passionate about.
Last year, her students worked together and created a video about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Students learned how to do their own research, spoke with leaders of the Indigenous community and engaged with their city, Schroeder said.
She said the reason she's been successfully using TikTok in her classes is because she spends all year teaching students about responsible social media use in and out of the classroom. They talk about internet safety, recording consent and how to fact check information.
"They know once they start using these devices in my classroom that if there's any misuse, the privilege is taken away, so I do not have any problems," Schroeder said.
Even though Chambers doesn't use much social media in her classroom, it's important to recognize how essential it is in the lives of young people, she said.
"These kids are growing up in a different time than we are," Chambers said.
"During the pandemic, [social media] became the only place they had that was somewhat unmonitored by adult interference. So I think if it's in a healthy way, it's good for them. They can start to explore their social limitations."
Teachers need to have some leeway when it comes to social media in schools, Chambers said.
There are non-negotiable boundaries — such as filming someone without their consent or harming someone with online content — but there are times when strict enforcement isn't necessarily the right course of action, she said.
"If it's a controlled situation like this story in the hallway, these are friends filming friends with consent. There needs to be assessment of context at every turn," Chambers said.
Pembina Trails and Mystery Lake school divisions, which oversee the schools where Chambers and Schroeder teach, have policies that say electronic devices are not to be used by students without teacher approval.
Both school divisions say they recognize the use of social media is growing and the value it brings to students and their learning.
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