Classroom Management – It’s not a laptop issue
For some unknown reason, many current educators seem to subscribe to the philosophy that computers will alleviate the amount guidance and monitoring needed in a technologically integrated environment. Over and over again, I’ve heard the institutional mantras of responsibility, respect – you know – the acceptable use policy and expectations. Why do many educators treat the “TUP/AUP/What Ever” as if it will magically remedy student behavior? Honestly, it’s my belief that teachers who have poor classroom management strategies need to shine the light on themselves. More precisely, a computer is an educational tool which provides students access to an infinite amount of immediate feedback, input and information. However, like most tools, students must be taught how to use this tool responsibly. You wouldn’t give a middle school student the keys to a car and set them free on society. No, you’d make sure they knew the “rules of the road” and model proper behavior. Likewise, handing students a laptop – in the classroom or anywhere else – and assuming they will make good decisions on their own is not only naive, but irresponsible.
The Not So Novel Use it or Lose List of Management Strategies:
1. Walk around classroom – be a presence and interact with the students.
2. Set and explain expectations clearly to students – what do you expect from students?
3. Create time limits and clear directions – i.e. provide search engines and resource strategies that students can use to be more productive.
4. Do not assume all the students are truly “natives” and know how to properly use computers.
5. Provide students attention “cues” during classroom interactions – i.e. screens half-mass+aye, aye sir.
6. Ensure students have the proper space to use and work – this generally goes unaddressed; it’s important to have ergonomically correct spaces to work.
7. Provide visual and verbal directions – digitize so students can revisit task objectives on their own.
8. UbD – what is the expected outcome? Will a computer improve the experience? Sometimes, computers are more prohibitive and distracting.
9. Always assume best intentions = Trust.