By Jessica Vician
We recently implemented a YOU Program training workshop at a school district in the Midwest that has four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Before the workshop, an administrator identified an issue she wanted us to address with the workshop attendees.
There is a parent-focused private Facebook group that was initially started by a mom in the district who wanted to provide a place for other parents to discuss successes and concerns in relation to their children’s education.
Unfortunately, a small group of parents have turned a well-intentioned online community into a forum for unconstructive complaints. They leave negative comments about teachers and administrators but don’t offer solutions, and the page has turned into a sour environment where other parents no longer want to participate.
This district’s problem, while unfortunate, is not unique. Online communities can quickly turn into forums of negative comments and complaints. Many people feel safe sharing opinions online that they would never say to someone in person, because the guise of being behind a computer screen and speaking with a keyboard brings courage to some.
But online communities, especially those focused on improving their children’s education experience, need not suffer just because of a few bad apples who lack the desire or ability to proactively and constructively address concerns directly with educators and/or administrators. It is possible for this Facebook group moderator to return the group to a place for positive and constructive discussion without banning the people bringing in unnecessary negativity.