Dana Watts

Dana Watts

Welcome to the Friday Follow Interview! This is the second in our series of Friday Follow Interviews and this week our special guest is Dana Watts. Dana is teaching in New Delhi, India and her thoughts of the art of teaching and working overseas are always interesting to read. Please enjoy Dana’s thoughts and please use the comment form to respond to her thoughts and questions and remember to follow Dana @teachwatts on your Twitter stream.

A little about Dana

Hi, my name is Dana Specker Watts and I am currently teaching at the American Embassy School (AES) in New Delhi, India. After years of teaching high school and middle school English, I have recently become a MS Technology Facilitator. It is personally a dream come true.

Prior to being in India, I taught at the International School of Bangkok (ISB) in Thailand for four years, Buffalo State College, Niagara County Community College (NCCC) and Mount Mercy Academy in Buffalo New York.
I am happily married to my best friend of 21 years, and we have three children ages 10, 9 and 6. I currently write professionally and reflect on my teaching at www.teachwatts.com.

Please describe the role played by social media in education

The role of social media continues to be underestimated and misunderstood. Too often, academia looks at social media as the enemy instead of a way of building a connected learning community. The stronger that community of learners is, the better results we will see from our students. Let’s be honest with one another, students will ask a question online before they ask us.

The role of teachers is becoming more important than ever because we need to teach them how to find the answers. They will rely on social media to teach them. The strength of an online community has never been greater in education than it is today. If we don’t teach today’s students how to access and use information in meaningful ways, they will find their own versions of the truth online.

Tell me about your relationship with social media. How do you feel about social media?

Social media is changing the culture within our schools and will hopefully begin to shift the pedagogy. I don’t understand the nervousness that is created by some people when they discuss social media. People who say “I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing?” or the “I don’t want my work private” will end up losing in the long run.

The social media that exists today allows our students to have a global voice. Their thinking fundamentally changes when they realize they can publish anytime, anywhere and about any issue they feel passionate about. We need to embrace that in our students and teach them that they can make a difference in the world around them. When the students feel ownership of the learning, they become inspire.

By seeing what other kids can do, we can inspire more kids and our thinking changes. If we teach them to create a strong digital footprint of their passions and interests, we are giving them the tools to feel empowered and use social media to showcase their talents to a global community.

What do you feel are you strengths?

I could be a student forever. I don’t particularly like to sleep because I feel as if I only have one life to live, and I want to get as much out of it as I can. I have trouble sitting still because I want to read more, learn more, and do more. It stems from a near fatal car accident as a young adult that taught me to make the most of every day. I try to take that passion for life and transfer it to my students and my own children in all that I do.

What advice do you like to share with people?

Do something you love and follow your passion, but realize that your passion can change. Mine did only a few years ago, and I have just changed the course of my career at 41 years old. Nothing is impossible. I have no idea where I will be 5 years from now in my career or even what country I will be living in, but as long as I am true to myself and follow my passion, I will be happy. And finally, if you do something, do it really, really well. Don’t ever settle. Be the author of your own story and create the endings you want to see. My favorite expression is “let your life speak”. I hope someday, mine does.

Are there any questions you would like to ask?

  • If we don’t help our students’ voice be heard, are we failing them?
  • Is it our job as educators to help them get their message out?

In addition, I feel strongly that as teachers, we need to come up with questions that do not have answers that we can search via Google. If teaching people to ask questions is more important than asking questions where the answer already exists, how do we do this? I am trying to figure this one out, but I still have so much to learn.

Thank you Dana. I appreciate your thoughts! We all appreciate your ideas and thank you for being a part of Friday Follow. You have enriched the conversation for all members of our connected networks both near and fear, locally and abroad. Please stay in touch and stay connected!

Dana can be found via her blog at www.teachwatts.com and also via her Twitter stream: @teachwatts

All of the Friday Follow Interviews will be aggregated at this page and if you would like to be a part of this venture please send me a DM via Twitter to @john_larkin. Have you read Cameron Paterson’s thoughts yet? If not, please do!