My Pledge

Thomas Payne
“Thomas Paine Plaque (1923), 59 Grove Street, Greenwich Village, New York, New York,” (Flickr)  by lumierefl under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs Generic Licence

I had a discussion with a colleague recently about her daughter’s assignment in health. A junior high school student, she had to create a blog using images. My colleague was upset because her daughter grabbed images willy nilly without regard to copyright infringement or citation of sources. Her daughter said, “It doesn’t matter. Only the people at school are going to see it.”

I had an aha moment when I heard this story. Children know that most of the stuff they are asked to do in school really doesn’t matter. I came to realize that we can teach the subject of digital citizenship, but until we live digital citizenship ourselves, nothing much will change. And when it comes to what we do digitally, everything has to matter.

Jason Ohler writes, “The “two lives” perspective contends that our children should live a traditional educational life at school, much like their parents did, and a second, digital life outside school” (2010, p. 9). I do not want my students to live two lives, where in one place things don’t matter, and in the other place things do matter. To this end, I have written a pledge that will help me stay focused on this goal.

My Pledge

I will do my best to provide project based learning opportunities where the audience for the work is bigger than me, the class, the school, or even the community.

I will envision the curriculum as a big picture to be investigated and explored rather than tiny bits that must be covered and checked off.

I will encourage my students to use multiple ways and tools to learn and show what they know.

I will learn with my students, and as issues arise in our work, we will deal with them and discuss them together.

I will be a role model for good digital citizenship.

Ohler, J. (2010). Digital community Digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.


About sandralbecker

An educator who is passionate about the creation of a school Learning Commons, which supports inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration.
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4 Responses to My Pledge

  1. caroleware says:

    Sandra, thank you for this wonderful post! I am going to print off your pledge (with your permission of course) and post it by my desk in my classroom. It totally speaks to my sole, so important. I also believe our students should not be living two lives! My two children do also have these ‘two lives’, but I also know that lots of what they are doing at school matters to them from the connections they are making and the discussions we have.

    I always appreciate your take on education and working with students, it is refreshing and reaffirming to know there are teachers like you that want to make a difference in our students lives.

    Villano, 2008, states “identifying the parameters of digital citizenship doesn’t accomplish anything unless students understand and adhere to them”. I really think it comes down to building good citizens and caring students first. What age does the transfer of being a good citizen in life transfer over to being a good digital citizen?

    Villano, M. (2008). Text unto others…as you would have them text unto you. T.H.E.
    Journal, 35(9), 47-51.

  2. Thanks for your comments Carole. I am honoured that you would like to print this off. Interestingly, in rereading my pledge I have already thought of changes I would make. When I read, “I will allow my students to use multiple ways and tools to learn and show what they know,” I cringed! (Is it shades of my teacher-in-control past?) What I would like to say is “I will encourage my students to use multiple ways and tools to learn and show what they know.” I guess it shows this evolutionary journey is never ending.

  3. kelasher says:

    I wholeheartedly concur with your post (and Carole’s reply)! We must make the work we do in school meaningful and authentic – it must matter. Otherwise, we will do little more than encourage poor habits and foster apathy towards learning at school.

    I find it interesting that your reflection of our course led you back to the beginning, with Ohler’s 2011 article on character education being one of our initial readings. When I read it the first time, I certainly shared his belief in ‘one life’ initiatives, which “should be largely dedicated to helping our digital kids balance the individual empowerment of digital technology with a sense of personal, community, and global responsibility” (p.25). After having gained greater knowledge of the concept of Digital Citizenship and all that it encompasses, I even more firmly agree that we must avoid the two lives approach. Our goal should not be to teach digital citizenship at school. It should be to encourage them to be responsible citizens in a digital society.

    Thank you for taking me back there, and for inspiring me to consider making my own pledge!


    Ohler, J. (2011). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(1), 25-27.

  4. ttallerico says:

    I agree with your thoughts around students feeling that the work they do is not authentic and being done for the teachers benefit. However, I do feel a shift in the air. As teachers are coming to understand the importance of meaningful task creation and student engagement in learning, children are having more and more opportunities to participate in “solving real problems, engaging with knowledge that matters, making a difference in the world, feeling respected, learning subjects that are connected to other subjects, learning from and with each other and people in their communities, and connecting with experts and expertise.” (Friesen as cited by Dunleavy & Milton, 2010) As digital citizenship is explored in this context, using the lenses of etiquette, communication and rights/responsibilities (Ribble, 2013), it will be easier for our students will see the relevance to their own work.

    I, like Carole and Kim, really love your (amended) pledge. I think it speaks to the hopes that all teachers have, to be able to make a difference in the lives of the children they work with by doing those things well.


    Dunleavy, J. & Milton, P. (2010). Student engagement for effective teaching and deep learning. Canadian Education association, 48(5), 4-8. Retrieved from:

    Ribble, M. (2013) Nine themes of digital citizenship. Retrieved from:

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