Our network of K-12 teachers is EVERFI’s heartbeat. That’s why we’ve launched Educator Spotlights: Stories from the Classroom.

Today we’re meeting Mrs. Whitehead, a Library Media Specialist blending two EVERFI resources into her lessons so that her middle and high school students draw the connections between digital and in person interactions, and practice the interpersonal skills they need for life.

Teacher:  Margaret Whitehead

Subject: Head Library Media Specialist

District:  New York Public Schools

Resources:  Ignition – Digital Literacy & Responsibility and Character Playbook

How do you think focusing on digital citizenship and character impacts the culture in your classroom and school?

Students need to understand how digital citizenship impacts their everyday life. They can’t function in today’s society without knowing how to be good digital citizens. EVERFI provides an easy and fun way for students to learn important concepts at their own pace. It’s a good combination. When our students are better digital citizens, that helps students improve their overall behavior both in the classroom and outside the school walls. We have to explicitly teach young people soft skills because if we don’t, how are they supposed to know? They don’t innately know how to behave online or how to stand up for someone being bullied. As educators, we need to help them to grow and improve their behavior through teaching and modeling. Providing a framework for this growth points students in the right direction and helps them to be better citizens in life.

Do you see students taking SEL and digital literacy lessons to heart?

Students that are provided these frameworks are better prepared when they are confronted with situations that require them to make decisions. Whether we talk about digital citizenship or healthy relationships. The Character Playbook resource has been an awesome program for our students. Too often that aspect of character education is not addressed or ignored because it is difficult to teach. To be able to address it in a way that students can relate to makes a huge difference. I see students confronted with these problems making better decisions after completing Character Playbook.

What digital literacy skill do you think is most important for students in this digital age?

All of the digital skills are important in their own right, and none of them are addressed as often as they should be. One skill that is near and dear to my heart as a librarian is citing appropriate sources. This is critical because this is a skill they need to have when they leave high school, teachers expect students to have this skill. If we don’t teach students then we are being negligent. Another important skill is teaching students to stop cyberbullying. We need to support each and not allow cyber bullying to happen. Each digital literacy skill holds their own weight and each need needs to be valued and taught. And if we don’t present the information to them on a daily basis we aren’t providing them with the support they need in their own lives. These aren’t just skills for school, they’re life skills. Every one of them.

How do you implement EVERFI’s resources in your classroom?

EVERFI allows me to personalize my teaching to my students and get them where they are. I have students doing different courses because that’s what they need. Depending on the group of students I have in front of me. I have the pieces that I need to support the needs of my students. It is incredibly important to choose the course that is going to support the needs of your student. If I were classroom teacher, rather than a librarian, I would set aside one day a week for EVERFI. It is also a wonderful opportunity for instruction for students who have attendance issues since their work can monitor a student’s work remotely and see how they are doing. I could then use the reports to provide direct instruction to my students. I can see everything my students are doing. I can help support my students where I see they are struggling.