Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sexuality Education and Professional Development

When I think about teaching human sexuality, there are so many questions that come to mind.  What do I need to know about my audience?  What are the objectives and outcomes of the presentation?  What do I need to understand about the culture of my audience?  What are the laws and policies regarding teaching sexuality for this presentation?  What educational tools and strategies will be developmentally appropriate for my audience?  What curriculum is appropriate for the audience?  How do I correctly create and assess the objectives?  How will I incorporate media and technology into the course/presentation? 

Is being a sex educator more than the above questions?  What are my personal and professional development responsibilities to be an educator utilizing best practices, national standards, and the media? 

As I was searching the Internet for teaching strategies, I came across this webpage based out of Canada.  The website, has different sections to assist a teacher in planning to teach.  The sections include prepare yourself, prepare your class, and prepare parents and the communities.  These different sections provide valuable resources to assist a teacher with preparation and professional development.  There is also a section for instructional methods including activities and examples of student questions.  Although it is from a different country, I think the thoroughness of the website is astounding.  I believe it is a tool to assist sex educators in their professional development and comfort level facilitating sexuality education. 

As a sex educator, I have learned about my strengths and weaknesses.  I believe the tool above is useful and yet I have feel like I am not “connected” to the social media and technology that adolescents are accessing to receive their sex education.  In a blog by Deb Levine, creator of Columbia U's Go Ask Alice website, and Executive. Director of, she discusses the importance of being able to incorporate technology and social media with sex education.  I actually felt like I was living in the Stone Age while reading the article because I do not have a Facebook or Twitter account, own a Smartphone, know any current music, browse through Youtube in my spare time, and I could go on and on about my lack of “connection” with social media.  I do know that I cannot continue to turn a blind eye to these tools as a source of my own personal and professional development as a sex educator. 

As you think about your own professional development as a sex educator, what tools do you use to further your own professional development?  How do you think media influences your teaching practices?  


  1. Great topic, Shanna! Ever since our Sunday 626 class on technology integration in the classroom, I have been trying to assess what I already do for media in the classroom and what I need to do in the future.

    I realized that I am somewhat good at using technology to disperse information myself, but that is kind of boring. I have now realized that my goal for technology integration in the classroom is to use it as a resource for gathering, assessing it's reliability, and applying the information with students. Students can take the lead on all of this, they have already surpassed us in navigating technology anyway!

    I found this amazing site and organization titled, "Internet Sexuality Information Services". The organization helps integrate technology and sexual health promotion, exactly what my goal for the classroom would be. They have done extensive research for the need of technology within the academic realms of sexuality education. Their sexuality education media resources would be of beneficial use in any classroom!

    Let me know your thoughts on this site too!

    1. I have just gotten lost in this website for much longer than I intended to. It seems to be a very good resource. I'm now a subscriber!

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    3. This is an AWESOME resource! Like Sasha, I too got lost in all the information... I am going to try to plan to attend their next conference.

  2. Thank you for your post. Like Stephanie, I found so much in there I want to respond to. I love how honest you are in it. It really helps me when I see someone being vulnerable and honest about their limits as well as their strengths. Makes what you have to say even more credible for me. I often feel the same way about social networking. We often joke in our family that the reason why we had kids is to understand what is going on in popular culture today. Without them, I swear I'd be lost at sea, washing up on an island of lesbian folk songs and indie documentaries about dead labor heroes of the 1880's or 1930's with a really bad haircut!

    On a more serious note, I have also found that it is important when assessing an audience of young people to find out what their media diet consists of so you can find areas that make sense to that population. If they are not tweeters, you don't need to stress twitter feeds. But if they are viewing porn online and are looking for other ways to learn about sex online, you can give them resources like the great one you listed, Go Ask Alice which I subscribe to and totally love, or some of the ones Megan Andelloux suggests like Human Sex Map or Mojo Upgrade (but these are very sex-positive and you might need to think through your employer's perceptions or in-house regulations before you offer them) or the one written by teens called Sex Etc. Teens I have worked with have really responded well to these sites and have looked askance at Planned Parenthood, thinking it sounded too Christian. Isn't that interesting, given how much the Christian Right has railed against PP over the last few decades?

    Thanks again for a thought-provoking post.

  3. Oh Shanna, this is so relevant to/for me! Google hangout, skype, twitter, instagram, pintarest, smartphones,'s all Sanskrit (sp?) to me. I only bought an orignal ipod shuffle maybe two years ago. I don't have a radio and I don't know any current music either (um, I rock out to America and Kansas, LOL!) I've only had a netbook for a year. I feel like they're something new every five minutes and in frustration I kind of tuned it all out.

    Nonetheless I KNOW it's too early for me to technologically check out (booo!) so I really need to "get hip" if I am going to be a relevant educator. It's all a challenge for me as well.

    Jane also made a good point about finding out an audience's media diet. I'd assumed that since I'm on the other end of the spectrum that I need to inundate my audience with everything in an attempt to "catch up." That'll definitely save me some time!

  4. Shanna, this is a great topic, and I'm happy to say that I have exciting things to report. Sort of.

    I recently attended the Social Good Summit in New York City, an event put together to discuss the relationship between social media and social change. I went on behalf of Miss Representation (who, by the way, is amazing at integrating social media into their work), and I learned a lot about how social media is being used by different organizations to make change, and it's incredible how much is being done. It's really, really exciting.

    I think that the thing with teaching is that it's really useful to be up-to-speed with students and to use the things that they love the most (their computers and phones) to facilitate learning. It's hard to do this, though, if you yourself are not tech-savvy. The question then becomes: should you change your ways in order to help your students? And I think it depends on you (and your wants and needs) and your teaching style. It also, of course, depends on your audience and whether or not they have regular access to technology.

    I /love/ the idea of using social media in the classroom, but it's something that I haven't had much ability to do because of the populations with which I work (I was told by my old school system that I couldn't assign online reading as OSS work because I can't guarantee that students have access to the Internet; I suggested that they go to a library, then; I was told I can't assume that either; don't get me started). The question is: how?

    Currently, I do a lot of online education on my own, between the vlogging that I do for Miss Representation, blogging that I do for various organizations, social media that I run for Adios Barbie, and on and on and on and on. So I'm always learning new things about how to use the Internet to my advantage to get my point across and to engage my audiences. I think it would be super useful if teacher preparation programs included more technology classes. I know that my undergrad program only had ONE, and it was really stupid.

    I just rambled for a long time.

    TL;DR: I think that integrating technology (especially social media) is important, and I wish we got more training on how to do that effectively.

    But then again, if you're not on the Internet as much as I am, then you might not know what "TL;DR" means. ;)

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  6. Melissa, you sent me right to Urban Dictionary, my go-to place when my 16-year old is not home, and I just have to say that not only did I not take TL;DR but it didn't take too long and I DID read. Thanks for expanding my online vocab!

  7. Thank you everyone for all of your comments, technology resources, and expanding my vocabulary! I have signed up on the ISIS webpage, dealt with this subject in the classroom this week, and learned what TL;DR means. I appreciate the support in my journey of learning about and integrating technology into my teaching skills. Shanna

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