Technology is changing our world at a rapid rate. For a little while, a lot of schools took a zero tolerance approach to technology. This was fine in the days of flip phones when the only internet around was dial-up (sidebar: you know how I feel about flip-phones).
However, the usage and abilities of phones have changed dramatically in the past 10, even 5 years. Schools are coming to an understanding that proper use of technology has to a part of the curriculum, whether it’s on a phone, tablet or even computer. Teachers, both classroom teachers and substitute teachers, need to have their own personal approach to phones in the classroom, and make sure students are aware of and respect their technology rules.
(This week I will touch on my approaches to phones and technology in the classroom as the regular classroom teacher. Next week, I will talk about my approach to phones and tech in the classroom as a substitute teacher.)
As the regular classroom teacher, I think technology is great! It opens up a world of information to us. There is nothing wrong with that. In my classroom, I will:
- model appropriate usage of a phone by how I use mine during class time (aka, no texting, phone calls, or social media until break time),
- demand the respect of directing a lesson or having a dialogue and have the students look at me and not their screens,
- foster a trust with students that they will not be using their phones to play games or text others during their work time (and make sure they are very clear on the consequences if they break this trust),
- allow students to listen to music (as long as they ask, as long as it’s using a music app and not searching a new song on YouTube every 3 minutes, as long as they have headphones, as long as I can’t hear the music, as long as long as long…),
- teach students how to use their phones/tablets as research tools (downloading a search engine app like Google, identifying which search results are paid ads and which are legitimate results),
- demonstrate the difference between phones/tablets and computers (yes, there are differences and no, you shouldn’t be writing a 1000 word essay on your phone) and give students the opportunity to practice the different usages of each,
- develop lessons and activities that mimic how and when we use tech in the real world for students to hone their skills (aka, don’t check a text during an interview and seemingly obvious things like that),
- always insist that Wikipedia is a garbage source, but the stuff listed under References, Further Reading, and External Links are great places find reputable information,
- become irate when parents text their kids in class (parents, know that I would give you a detention in a heartbeat if I could).
And when students start sassing me about how school and learning things is pointless because they can just look everything up on their phone, then I will tell them that we as a society are “wildly inaccurate about how much [we] know and how dependent [we] are on the Internet.” And then I’ll tell them to read a book and regale them with tales of how I graduated high school, university, and teachers’ college all with many books and very limited access to the Internet.