A (Personal) Cyber Safety Lesson

for Music Educators

by Debbie O’Shea

Teachers, we all have a responsibility to teach our students about the ethical and safe use of ICTs. I would like to share one of the most powerful activities regarding this topic that I have experienced. As often happens, these magical moments spring from the children. They are not necessarily part of your beautifully planned lessons. This story ‘begins’ with a lesson segment that was very much planned, very much part of the sequence of learning for my students, very much an effective practice activity for known concepts, however, it became much more than that.

It started with a YouTube clip, in fact it started with one of my YouTube clips. This is one of the videos that I made to practice ‘melodic concepts’. There aren’t many in this series as, shall we say, I don’t have the greatest confidence in my own voice.

The students noticed the comment that was left below this video on YouTube. Allow me to go backwards a little in time to when I first read said comment.

I was doing something on my YouTube channel at home when I came across the comment under this video. Are you ready for it? Here it is:

The Video
The Comment

So, what did I do when I first read “Shut up weird voice” written under this video?
Admittedly, there was a sharp intake of breath and a gaping mouth for a second or two. Then I started to find it very amusing. I knew my sons, in their 20s, would find it uproariously funny. In fact, they found it so funny that it is still an occasional comment/giggle/snicker/guffaw around the dinner table.

When my students discovered this comment while I was setting up the video they were incensed. They were shocked and horrified on my behalf. They thought it was a very mean thing to say and I could see them bristling and angry in my defence. The first question was, “What did you do?” I I told them I didn’t do anything about it at all. I also realised that this would be a very powerful teaching moment.

I told them at everyone has a unique voice. That is something to be valued and appreciated.

And most importantly we talked about how everyone has a right to an opinion. Not everyone will like my voice and that really is OK. Really is it OK.

We went on to talk about the fact that not everyone has to hear our opinion, let alone be interested in our opinion. And most importantly, if you comment like this on the internet it is there for all to see at any time.

I asked questions like, “How do you think I felt when I read this?” I talked about my intention making these videos – to help my students as well as other music teachers and their students, to read, write and understand music. How I was trying to be helpful and make a difference.

Was it a ‘kind’ comment to make? What good came of making this comment? Does this seem to be a responsible thing to do?

I did confess to being a bit hurt at first, but went on to tell them I was then easily able to see it as funny.

This real life lesson, and it happened to their music teacher, was really powerful, allowing discussion around kindness, compassion, and the ethical use of ICTs in our modern world. And let’s not forget resilience as the ‘victim,’ aka me, acknowledging the event, but determining how I would think and feel about it.  

So please feel free to borrow my story. Tell your student about a music teacher you know who received a hurtful comment on her video – and see, I am even brave enough to share the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSGntavj3Uo&list=PLOcTq2Ad7oV7iE0pbPN7Nw93wtXHP3MTE&index=4

Narratives are very powerful pedagogical tools – I hope this story might help you to lead your students to be safe, ethical and responsible digital citizens.

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  1. Christine on March 7, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Damn! I had to teach a random lesson last week to 3/4’s about Cyber Safety! I wish I’d seen this first. Instead I rambled and had a ‘class discussion’. Mind you, maybe the teacher could have let me know what lesson I was teaching before I walked in the door…

  2. Anne-Maree Gibson on March 15, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    Hey Deb… sounds like you managed the situation well with the kids. At my school we are all about COURTEOUS, ACTIVE, PARTICIPATION…. and with the children I just ask them to have a go …. so reasonable attempts are ‘all good’. I’ve often expressed that, even after many years of teaching experience, occasionally, I get my solfa hand signs mixed up or I’m not singing completely in tune.. we have discussed that we are all human and that even professional singers don’t always get it perfect…. I use the Adel example when she stopped and re-started her tribute to George Michael. With this I then referred to your incident where the blatantly horrid and unnecessary criticism was a harmful way to express an opinion (wrongly in my mind at any rate as I’ll continue to use this resource when I have my ‘no voice’ days.). Yes, managing it by passing it off a funny is ok and lightened it for your students… I really liked the way you turned it into a discussion about being kind to others and to not let the opinions of others affect the good things that you are trying to do. I discussed this with my students – they found it quite awful that someone was so unkind. Please be re-assured that we in the Crescendo (KMEIA, area networks and beyond) communities value the efforts that you have put into sharing and providing resources that just ‘HELP’ when we need them. Keep them coming when you have a chance…. Cheers.

  3. teddybearmindsupport.Com on April 23, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging
    for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is fantastic, let
    alone the content!

  4. PFox on April 26, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    You have given me huge courage watching what you do so easily Deb. Many hours in it and it’s over in a blink when the children watch. I think any attempt will be exactly what they see as do every lesson….genuine humour, a lot of fun and I bet they go back with mum and dad and brag about what they are learning. You are an inspiration.

    • Debbie on April 26, 2020 at 5:40 pm

      Trish, thank you SO much for your kind comments.

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