Friday, October 29, 2010

Solutions for Teaching with Cell Phones in the One to Some Environment

Anyone interested in embedding cell phones into the curriculum has heard the argument, but what about the students who don’t have a phone??? Well, you do the same thing as you do when your class doesn’t have enough textbooks. You don’t say, I guess we can’t do our work. We find workarounds. Partner students. Have some extras on hand for those who don’t have. Reach out to the community for support, but don’t use that as an excuse to not innovate instruction. Here are some specific ideas to ensure access for all students.

First develop a plan to work with students who do not own cell phones or did not have plans that allowed unlimited texting and worked to include them in all activities. Below are possible solutions you can incorporate into your plan.

7 Ideas for Teaching in a One-to-Some Environment

  1. Checking out a device from school i.e. laptop, iTouch, cell phone
  2. Connecting with community businesses willing to provide students with afterschool access to technology.
  3. Connecting students with mentors who could ensure students had access to technology.
  4. Partnerships with local library.
  5. Outreach to cell phone providers to donate minutes/equipment for students in need.
  6. Setting a place in the school (i.e. library, lab, classroom) for after school/ before school access to school technology.
  7. Partnering classmates who can share technology.
If you embed student-owned-devices into your learning, and have other ideas, please add to the list.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Four Lessons for Educators from The Facebook Movie. Lesson 4: Build Fast & Break Things

I finally saw The Social Network this week with colleagues. As an innovative educator and administrator the unauthorized, behind-the-scenes look at the makings of Facebook provided lessons to be learned for both educators and administrators. Here are some that I came away with.

Four Lessons From The Social Network

Passion-based learning may mean dropping out of school
Mark Zuckerberg had a passion for creating cool things, but like student Blake Copeland (who developed an iPhone app) and many others, found there is not a place for that in school. Too bad! If a student has a passion, let him/her follow it. Even if it means taking time from the curriculum or a break from school. Those things just don’t matter as much as we’re brain washed to believe they do. If we accept that letting them free, may just be the key, who knows? They just may start the next Facebook, Napster, find a cure for cancer, become a world famous musician, or an Olympic athlete. If they find it’s worth it, they can always come back to school, but many never do.

Upon escape, today’s student might become a CEO, your boss, or a billionaire
Mark Zuckerberg had bigger things to do then attend the prestigious holding cell for the rich and brilliant. Though he had aspirations to obtain the obligatory piece of Ivy paper, the reality was the real-world had much more in store for him and he fell the way of so many others who, like Aaron Iba (who recently was paid 10 million by Google for software he created), discovered he could succeed despite, not because of school.

In fact, is infantalizing students for so long before they can declare, “I am the CEO bitch,” really in the best interest of students or society? Historically, people began doing great things during the years that today we force them to sit in class and do well on standardized tests. It wasn’t always this way. If we did remove societal pressures, outdated assessments and instead supported students in the discovery, development, and attainment of areas of talents, interests, and passions maybe we’d have more people like those from our history books who accomplished all of this before age 15:
  • Susan B. Anthony began teaching school.
  • Henry Ford, left the farm and moved to Detroit to train as a machinist.
  • Benjamin Franklin contributed anonymously to a local newspaper.
  • Louis Braille, blind since age 3, improved the method of raised writing.
  • Anne Frank wrote the final entry in her diary.
  • Mozart began composing symphonies.
  • French painter Renoir worked at a porcelain factory, painting flowers on dishware.
  • Arctic explorer Matthew Alexander Henson first went to sea.
  • Pilot Victoria Van Meter became the youngest girl ever to fly across the United States.
  • Jean Piaget published a scientific article, based on observations of an albino sparrow near his home.
  • Vinay Bhat became the youngest chess master in the world.
  • Daisy Ashford wrote a novel which sold over 200,000 copies.
  • Shirley Temple became a millionaire and received an honorary Oscar.

Cut loose those who are holding you back
Mark Zuckerberg cut/loosened ties with two close friends and employees in the early days of Facebook when it became clear that they didn’t always have the best interest of the company at heart. One was his businessman Eduardo Saverin who didn’t follow the company and who, when pissed off, froze the company bank account. The other was Napster’s Sean Parker who he looked up to as a mentor, but when push came to shove, Parker was too fast and loose in life putting the company at risk and not liked by investors.

Lesson for education is your only as strong as the weakest link and in the words of Jim Collins, “If you can’t get the right people on the bus, you’re not as likely to get where you want to go.”

Build Fast and Break Things
That’s advice from the horse’s mouth-Mark Zuckerberg. What if we encouraged, rather than penalized this behavior in schools? Well, the answer of course, is that maybe they could get hired by/start a company like Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in his dorm room in at age 19. Five years later, it has more than 300 million users, $500 million in revenue, and is worth upwards of $6 billion. Now 25, Mark still runs the place.

Want to know a little more about the guy who this unauthorized movie featured? Watch this video from his interview last year with Business Insider.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

6 Ideas for Developing a Personal Learning Network of Others Interested in Using Cell Phones in Education

While professional development and classes are a great way to learn, personal learning networks are quickly picking up momentum as the learning platform of choice for innovative educators and leaders. A personal learning network provides individuals with on-going, on-demand, personalized support anytime and anywhere they want it with others they meet in platforms such as twitter, Facebook, Classroom 2.0 or face-to-face. Because cell phones are banned in many schools and districts, it’s often difficult for educators interested in harnessing the power of cell phones in education to connect with others who share their interest. Here are ideas for getting started with developing your own personal learning network that will enable you and others to stay connected with the best ways to remain in-the-know about using cells for education.

Read and comment on blogs that cover the topic of cell phones in education. As you come across blogs you like that cover this topic, add them to your Google RSS reader. In addition to The Innovative Educator, here are a few other blogs to get started. Twitter
Use Twitter to find others who are interested in the same topic. You can do this using search terms like education cell phones, mobile learning, phones education or this commonly used Twitter hashtag #mlearning. Once there identify Tweeps (Twitter Peeps) who are saying things you like and follow them, reply to them, or retweet what they are saying. When you have questions or want feedback about a particular topic, use “@” (example @innovativeedu) to tag this people in your Tweet and they’ll directly receive your Tweet. Twitter will instantly provide you with a terrific on-demand network just waiting to support your personal learning.

Facebook is yet another great vehicle to expand your personal learning network about topics of interest. As you begin following blogs, Twitter, and meeting people face-to-face and at conferences who are are interested in the same topic, request their friendship on Facebook. Facebook provides some benefits over Twitter in that you can link to other web pages nicely and tag the people who you want to see it using “@” (example @Lisa Velmer Nielsen). All those tagged will have your post show up on their Facebook page and they can comment and see one another’s post. The makings for a great conversation indeed. Others who may be interested can also chime in.

Another option on Facebook is joining a page about an area of interest. Just type the topic in the search box and see what comes up. A page that exists for cell phones in education is Let Students Use Cell Phones to Learn ( On such pages you’ll see information about the topic and you can share posts, thoughts, and questions. Again, you can tag specific people if you want what you write to appear on their wall.

Classroom 2.0
Classroom 2.0 ( is a terrific resource with tens of thousands of members available all the time. Once there you can join the Cell Phones in Education group (, start your own conversations, or join conversations of those already going on. You can also share any of these conversations on Classroom 2.0 with your Twitter network, Facebook network, as well as a number of other sharing platforms. Those you connect with here also become a part of your personal learning network. You can friend these folks on Classroom 2.0, follow their blogs if they have them, introduce them to yours (if you have one), and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and beyond.

Google docs
Google docs provides a collaborative environment that provides an amazing opportunity when combined with the power of your personal learning network to think, build and grow. I have had several instances where to grow and solidify my learning and knowledge, I have worked on creating a document. This could be a comparison chart, a curriculum map, a lesson plan, a collection of ideas, etc. While alone, I have some good ideas, when I invite my PLN to join me, we all grow and create together. To do this create a Google doc. Make it public and allow anyone with the link to edit. Then share what you are doing via a Tweet, status update, email, etc. Your learning partners will have the opportunity to learn and grow with you...and, don’t forget the chat feature available on the page, so you can communicate with your collaborators.

Face to Face
We all know the old fashion face-to-face connections work really well. The problem for some is finding others in their physical space who share their interests. Of course a solution is taking a class or attending a conference. Those of us who have had the pleasure of connecting in online environments appreciate, how such relationships can deepen and grow when face-to-face and online connections are married. When at a conference, I first ran into some of my PLN that previously I had only connected with online and we all commented on how lovely and powerful it had been to meet one anothers minds before seeing their faces. At the end of the conference, we knew we had many ways to keep the conversation going. All this to say that face-to-face connections and learning are powerful and the learning can continue anytime/anywhere with online platforms.

If you’re ready to begin building your personal learning network of others interested in using cell phones in education, pick one or two of these ideas and get started. When you do, not only will you learn a lot, but you will also contribute to the learning of others as well.

Lessons I Learned about Web 2.0 Technology Working with College Students

by Jacob Gutnicki

This past summer I taught a graduate course that uses technology to support math instruction. Over the course of 5 weeks, my students created lesson plans using Google Docs, developed their own blogs, designed Web Quests powered by Google sites, published podcasts, and produced other educational projects. As always, I warned my students about the dangers of the Internet. However, this time was different. A number of informal conversations revealed that they understood the power of the Internet; both bad and good. Students were already aware of how to make their postings non-listed, how to use privacy settings, as well as other precautions. This might not sound significant. However, I assure you it is. I have taught this type of course various times over the past 7 years and previously, the students’ lack of net awareness was frightening.

However, these teachers were different. When they were in High School, the Internet was already a common household name. More importantly, their Internet experience was not dictated by restrictiveness. Rather, it was used to promote research at their fingertips. At the same time they were made aware of the dangers the Internet can pose if not used judiciously. This has tremendous implications for pedagogical practices in the 21st century.

It is no secret that in the past 5 years web based applications have dramatically matured. Think about how cell phones, Facebook, Wikis, Twitter, You Tube, Google applications, and other Web 2.0 applications have transformed how we communicate. Today we can receive instant weather reports, traffic reports, and other vital information with our handheld devices. Simply put, Web 2.0 applications is the push technology of the late 1990s reaching its true potential. In five years from now, the next generation will laugh at us, as these devices will continue to revolutionize how we communicate and conduct business.

Yet despite it all, some educators fear the cell phone, are frightened by social networking tools, and as such have banned its usage in educational settings. In fact, it seems that our fears have been growing by leaps and bounds. For this reason, observing the first net generation was very telling.

In watching them use technology, I understood their awareness of safe technology usage was due to their High School and college experiences during which they experimented with all kinds of technology applications under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable teacher. Similarly, the students of today desperately need this training and exposure to both computers and handheld devices. Why you may ask? Like it or not if your students are not using cell phones currently, they will use it soon enough.

Will they know how to use it safely? Will they know about on-line predators? Will they know about privacy settings? More importantly, will they know when it is not appropriate to use the cell phone? This will depend on whether we teach students about proper usage and provide them with ample opportunities to use computers and smart phone technology in a classroom environment where they can share their successes and learn from their mistakes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Innovative Educator tries to change the mind of an administrator who “thinks” he disagrees with my stance on friending students online

When George Swain read my Tweet, “Told the mayor on his Facebook page, he was inappropriate for judging teachers who friend students, he replied with this:

georgeswain @InnovativeEdu Very interesting issue! I think I disagree with you. See my post to your blog. Thanks for getting me thinking this morning.

What I’m optimistic about is that George said, “I ‘think’ I disagree with you.” and he thanked me for getting him thinking. Clearly, George has an open mind, and I’m excited for the opportunity to potentially expand his thinking. From what I can gather in a quick peer into George’s life, he is a cool guy whose company I can easily see both me and my boyfriend enjoying. Me, because his bio defines him as an educator, he's also an administrator and he’s demonstrated that he is a thoughtful, inquisitive, and articulate one at that. My boyfriend because he would enjoy hanging with George because he’s an ultradistance cyclist and I’m sure they could both talk for hours about cycling.

On his blog, George quotes T.S. Eliot "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." -- T.S. Eliot

I love that quote, and so, now, I’m hoping George and other innovative educators and administrators will go on a bit of a risk taking journey with me into the world of social media and education.

George responded to my post, Mayoral "BANdates" are not the answer for preparing 21st century students for success with the following comment:

I get your point about the mayor mouthing off about something he admits to knowing little about. In system with a rigid and steep hierarchy like the NYC public school system, this must just drive you crazy as an innovative and creative teacher. On a more basic level, though I am not convinced that friending kids on Facebook is a wise choice for teachers or other educators. I am an administrator at a small independent school that requires students to use laptops in grades 7-12 and embraces digital technologies enthusiastically. We encourage students and faculty to explore and use all types of social networking tools to expand their learning. Some platforms, on the other hand, like Facebook, are rife with problems specifically because they represent the un-mediated social world of adolescents. I get that great schools will be the ones that prepare kids to be responsible digital citizens, but friending kids in their little social world of Facebook crosses a line between teachers and students that is problematic

I am friends with past students on Facebook and communicate with adolescents and teachers through a range of social media platforms, but you've not convinced me that the benefits do not outweigh the dangers with this one. Am I missing something.

I am not worried in the least that the teachers in my school will make inappropriate overtures to their students. What does concern me, though, is what teachers will do when they come into contact with inappropriate, dangerous and perhaps illegal behaviors on-line. For example, if you see something about a party where parents will be away and alcohol may be served flash across your news feed, do you call the parents? The police? Look the other way? If there is a car accident on the way home from that party, do you feel responsible? If you've done nothing, I think you are responsible on a moral if not legal level. I'm not trying to be dramatic, but I think that when adults enter the social worlds of children they cross a line. Of course we are open to aspects of this world all the time through the general work with and care for our students. They come to us with problems and we observe their social dynamics in front of us every day. On a parallel level, I would not encourage teachers to engage in their students' social worlds through other media like telephones or simply hanging out with them at the mall on a Saturday night.

When teachers friend their students on Facebook, they enter a social world that they may very well not be able to navigate. By the way, I just asked my 14 year old daughter what she thought and she said, "teachers friending kids on Facebook, that's creepy." Maybe it's just her, but do you really want to be a part of what's going on with 12-18 year olds on Facebook? You may find that you have more work on your shoulders than you can handle.

A thoughtful comment indeed. Rather than responding to George, directly on the post, I felt the conversation deserved it’s own blog post. Below is my response and attempt to push George’s thinking a little bit.

@George Swain, I’d like to know what you perceive as the dangers for an educator open to connecting with students in whichever environment they or offline. As an educator I am a role model for responsible behavior in my online and offline worlds and think the existence of adults in all environments of students is a good thing. My role is the same online as it is off line. I don’t behave as a student / child just because I am in a certain environment. Whether I’m in a classroom, playground, park, or in an online environment, I’m there to help students learn and ensure they are safe.

You share that you are concerned about what teachers will do when they come into contact with inappropriate, dangerous and perhaps illegal behaviors on-line...the answer is simple. The same thing they’d do if they come into contact with this face-to-face. I would hope you aren’t suggesting educators turn their heads. Our kids need us looking at them, stepping in and guiding and protecting them. A close colleague and guidance counselor I know shares that Facebook has become an extremely crucial platform in her effort to keep students safe and happy.

As far as your question about what to do if you find out students are having a party when parents are away, again, the answer is simple. The same thing you do if you heard students discussing the same thing at school. To answer your question, should you feel responsible if someone gets hurt because you’ve done nothing with information you had and this could have been prevented if you had done something? Well, I certainly would feel responsible if I did nothing when I could have done something.

There are educators and leaders out there who acknowledge that it isn’t easy being involved in the lives of students online, but they also believe that they didn’t take this job because it was easy and if they can help their student...the whole student in his or her life...then although banning is the easy way out, it is not something they morally feel responsible doing. You can see what I mean by reading principal Chris Lehmann’s comment on this post and principal Eric Shenninger’s post

I’m surprised that you say you wouldn’t encourage teachers to engage in students’ worlds through media like telephones. If I have a student that wants to speak with me, I want to be there. As far as a teacher hanging out with students at a mall on a Saturday night...I’m just not seeing that. Connecting with students in online environments, doesn’t mean that we’re hanging out with them any more than we are on the playground, cafeteria, or classroom. We’re together in these spaces and our roles remain the same.

As far as your daughter’s response, I understand her reaction, because it’s something that so few adults do, but when we assume the same role online as we do in the real world, it is no longer creepy. I should mention, btw, that most educators I know don’t request friendships, but accept them from students who reach out. My boyfriend is friends with both of his children on Facebook and he has the same role there as he does in real life. Like a teacher, when parents are in online worlds, they are more connected and safety and responsibility are ensured. As an educator myself, when I have an opportunity to offer words of encouragement, advice, and celebration to students online or offline, they appreciate it and I engage the same way regardless of the environment. Being friends with students also enables me to easily tag them in a post or note about something I think they might find interesting...and we have an easy way we can all chat about it. In fact that was exactly what I did when one of my students and I were featured in the NY Times in a positive story about Facebook being a great medium for students to tell teachers how much they’ve meant to them.

Thank you for commenting and hopefully allowing me to push your thinking and solidify mine.

So, George, I’m dying to know. How’d I do?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mayoral "BANdates" are not the answer for preparing 21st century students for success

Mayor Bloomberg has been open about the fact that he doesn’t really get social media in general and it’s clear its value as an educational tool alludes him. So when the recent story came out that mislead the public to believe Facebook Got Teachers Fired, I was concerned that as in other states, uninformed policymakers might get involved in the business of education making snap judgements and proclamations that provide the public with a facade of safety, scapegoating the tool, rather than addressing the behavior of those abusing the tool.

Unfortunately, my fear was realized in a NY Post story this week with a headline stating, “Bloomberg calls teachers 'friending' students inappropriate. I am concerned that a politician unfamiliar with how to harness the power of social media is judging what is appropriate for educators. Innovative educators and educational leaders across the globe know being involved in the online worlds of their students can contribute toward achieving essential competencies necessary for success in today’s world. As educators and school leaders become increasingly tech-savvy, more and more are empowering students and parents to harness the power of social media. Doing so IS NOT inappropriate. What is inappropriate is our mayor, or any politician or administrator , making a blanket judgment about teachers who use a platform he doesn’t himself use or understand. (Note: I recognize he has social media accounts but he admits they are staff run). Additionally, I fear that Bloomberg will impose another bandate like he did when he banned students from using their digital devices even if teachers wanted them to use them for learning.

As a result, for many innovative educators, preparing students for success remains a subversive activity. The few passionate, tech-savvy educators who are brave enough to think outside the local ban and follow the guidance of the U.S. secretary of education and others who believe educators should work with students to harness the power of the mobile devices they own... have to do so like criminals, behind locked, closed doors. These unsung heroes do this work in the shadows secretly allowing students to use the tech tools they love and connecting with them in the online forums in which they thrive.

We need policy makers to get out of the way or get on board with letting educators do what they do best....making decisions that will best serve their students learning needs. Or, at least if they do want to take a stand and make blanket statements, perhaps they can get feedback from innovative educators who know the importance of thinking outside the ban and harnessing the power of technology and online environments.

If they did they would discover that when a responsible adult interacts appropriately with students in their environments - online or in the physical world, everyone wins. The adults interacting with students serve as mentors, guides, connectors, advisers, and protectors whether they do so in virtual or face-to-face interaction. If we don’t charge those who work with children to do so, we need to rethink who it is we are hiring. Adults engaging with children in their worlds IS appropriate. The sexually lude and elicit behavior the teachers in the Post story engaged in is what is inappropriate. Policymakers, administrators, and teachers need to be educated not to confuse appropriate tools with inappropriate behavior. Facebook doesn’t make someone act inappropriately. We must deal with the behavior not ban adults and students from such spaces whether these spaces are Facebook, Twitter, playgrounds, classrooms or homes.

If we continue to accept that adults take the easy way out and ban rather than embrace the power of social media and digital tools, the result will be students unprepared to succeed in a world that counts on these tools and communication mediums for success.

Our city’s next mayor will need to know how to harness the power of social media to win a seat in office. If we continue in the direction of these bandates, a child educated today, won’t be prepared to
  • Run for office.
  • Start a movement.
  • Make a difference.
While it may not be easy, we need schools to be a place where students will learn the many skills necessary to make a difference, because of, not despite school. Rather than condemning innovative educators, instilling fear, and tying their hands to do what is in the best interest of students we need to empower them to enable students to harness the power of these tools for learning

As a society we need to move away from segregating students and teachers in any environment and instill safety and responsibility in all of them. Rather than segregate, we need to encourage caring adults to be more involved in and connected to the worlds of their students. Let’s stop keeping the real world outside of classrooms and put the focus back where it should be. Rather than removing adults from student’s worlds, instead lets focus attention on policies that prevent these creeps from entering and remaining in the system for any length of time. We need to take a look at how we are surveying students (in a non-invasive manner) to find out information about those who are acting inappropriately in their lives. Addressing behavior of educators and supporting them in being role models, mentors, supporters, in all the environments in which students exist, will move us full speed ahead toward preparing students for success in the real world.

Let’s put the decision-making power about what is appropriate for educators back where it belongs...In the hands of teaching professionals and educational leaders whose job it is to make and implement such decisions. .

Interested in a school district with a sensible approach to educator use of social media? Read this district's policy here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Collect Instant Feedback with Google Forms and Spreadsheets

Google forms and spreadsheets are a great tool for instantly capturing feedback and sharing results. I use them in professional development and for school open houses/celebrations. You can embed a form/survey into an online space like a wiki and have the answers embedded as a spreadsheet following the form. Gone are the days where we have to stop to collect only the feedback of those who are most vocal. Using forms and spreadsheets, everyone feedback is instantly captured and posted for review in a way that lets participants quickly take it ALL in and get to the thinking faster.

This wiki page (Student response with Poll Everywhere) shows a sample of how this might be used. On the page you’ll notice the participants can complete a survey and their answers instantly appear below on the same page.

Ten Steps to embedding Google Forms and Spreadsheets
  1. Creating the document
    Go to and select create a form. Name your form. Enter the questions and answers you want included, pick a theme, and save. A spreadsheet to capture results with the same name as your form will be automatically generated.
  2. Capturing document embed codes
    Go to your account and open the spreadsheet. When you do you will see a tab for “form.” Select the “form” tab and click “Embed form in a webpage.” Copy that code.
  3. Next go to “share” (found at the top right side of your screen), “start publishing.”
  4. Select “Get a link to published data”
  5. Select “html to embed in webpage”
  6. Embedding the document in Wikispaces
    Go to your wiki page and select “edit”
  7. Once in edit mode select “widget” -> “Other html”
  8. Paste your first embed code and save
  9. Repeat for your second embed code.
  10. Save the wiki.
That’s it. You’re on your way to transforming the way you can capture information from your entire audience and instantly review results. Now your time can be spent on making meaning of all the feedback you have received rather than spending time collecting limited responses!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why can’t we be friends? - Innovative educators say, "Yes we can!" to friending students on Facebook and Face-to-Face

The recent story of teachers who engaged in inappropriate behavior with students using Facebook has gained attention and outcries to ban teachers from “friending” students on Facebook. Innovative educators know this is confusing, rather than addressing, the issue. We can’t ban adults or children from using the places creeps go to prey on children. We need to ensure the places students frequent are safe which also means ensuring trusted adults are in these environments.

Rather than what the media might have you believe, this means we need to encourage, NOT discourage educators from “friending” students not just on Facebook, but on playgrounds, in classrooms, and in the community. This is not a requirement of educators, but many of us know that those teachers who make the most positive impact in the lives of their students are the ones who see them as more than just a number or letter grade and instead realized the entire social-emotional being and are there for their students as supportive role-models.

As we look at the media’s confusion with promoting fear of the tool rather than the person, I think we need to take a look at the word “friend” and its meaning. Recently, many unquestioningly take the stand that adults should not be “friends” with students. Really? Is being a friend to a student really such a taboo action? Are we that mistrustful of all adults that this needs to be the default choice of how student/teacher relationships should be defined?

Encarta defines the word friend as follows:
1. somebody emotionally close: somebody who trusts and is fond of another.
2. acquaintance: somebody who thinks well of or is on good terms with somebody else.
3. ally: an ally, or somebody who is not an enemy.
4. advocate of cause: a defender or supporter of a cause, group, or principle.

More recently “friend” or “friending” has taken on another definition.
The building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, e.g., who share interests and/or activities.

Friends, in part, define exactly the type of caring, concerned individual we want in our children’s lives. A friend is not someone who crosses a line or makes another feel uncomfortable. These are the people we teach our students to block from their online and physical lives and there in lies the solution.

The people need to be banned...not the places where people go: schools, playgrounds, homes, online networking outlets. Those places need to be safe and that includes ensuring trusted adults like teachers and family members exist as trusted friends / advocates / allies of their students.