Choose Your Battle

Miss Management
Choose your position: Are you a gatekeeper, policemen, guard… or teacher? All these jobs are necessary, but which one belongs in schools?

Choose your battle:

Filters that also filter learning -or- High expectations about appropriate use?

Banning POD’s (Personally Owned Devices) -or- High expectations about appropriate use?

Teaching without technology -or- High expectations about appropriate use?

Make no mistake, having and following through with high expectations is a battle. It takes time and effort to mutually establish expectations, it takes time and effort to develop a trusting relationship, and it takes both consistency and a willingness to follow through on consequences. This is a classroom management issue… and it provides new challenges. It is a battle worth tackling! Why? Because you are a teacher, not a security officer.

Students today carry their unfiltered internet connections in their pockets. They have access every minute that they are not in the classroom.

“… But it is a distraction.”
“… But it makes them lazy.”
“… But they don’t use it for learning.”

As I said in a comment not too long ago:

I have a hard time seeing technology today as ‘creating more lazy students’ because I don’t see many students today that are more lazy than I was. I was a disengaged, often bored, student. Does technology create a distraction… YES, a huge distraction that can be hard to compete with.
So what do we do? We don’t let kids misuse pens (writing notes to each other) and paper (making paper airplanes) in class
… We place high expectations on their proper use! Keeping technology out of class won’t work nearly as well as placing high expectations of their use in class. Listen to Sonya discuss “Expectations and Attitudes”

We can’t ‘compete’ but it is even harder to ignore. It’s a classroom management issue and it’s hard to deal with because it is new. We’ll lose the battle if we spend our time trying to compete with the entertaining world technology has to offer, but we will engage students if we learn to meaningfully integrate technology use when appropriate and then put it away, like we do for pens and paper, when it doesn’t add value… using our skills as a teacher to make sure that when students use any ‘tool’ in our class, that they are being used effectively and affectively.

So which battle will it be? Do we make classrooms a war zone? A battle zone to keep technology out? Or do we make it a learning zone? A place where we close the gap between digital distractions and digital classroom tools?

[Originally posted: April 20th, 2010]


  1. Sara said:

    This is exactly what I brought up in our tech meeting this afternoon.

    We are punishing students for texting by removing the medium and not thinking about why students or a student is not connected. I think it is because we don’t look at the root cause, and we don’t think of cell phones or laptops as “tools” so we place the blame on the cell phone itself. We don’t want to change the model of public education because it is comfortable, and there is a political push to get back to the Industrial Age. We have to get the Federal Administration to see that Public Education needs change. But not measured by test scores and traditional data points.

    IMO, the disconnect is because their digital life is more relevant TODAY than our content. As it always has been in existence, but the rest of the world was also slow. Maybe not Digital back in the day, but each generation has their own agenda which the previous sees as “Irrelevant.” .

    How many notes did I pass or receive during classes because during my teen years our love lives were in shambles? And that was at the top of our pyramids. not U.S. History. Today students text or FB the same content; only the media has changed. Kids that are bored may text, surf the web, post to FB or My Space and more…. back in my day, we doodled, read library books (under our desks and got in trouble when caught.), passed notes, used sign language, day-dreamed. Connected or engaged kids are with you in the lesson. Yep, we have our jobs cut out for us because the web offers MORE opportunities for kids to express themselves or engage them. And we as a public school culture tend to shut those opportunities down instead of build upon them.

    We NEED to start meeting kids in their Digital Spaces. And we need to realize learning is a social science that can not be measured like what most of the general public views as science.

    August 27, 2010
    • David Truss said:

      Great points Sara!

      You reminded me of a Michael Wesch talk that I heard From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able: Experiments in New Media Literacy.
      Wesch says:

      “In these rooms… that we are teaching there is literally something in the air that is changing the game completely, and that something in the air is nothing less than 1.5 billion people connecting all around the world… we need to learn how to educate in this media-scape.

      If you look at all futurists, all predictions, they all agree on one trend, and that is that we are moving towards… Ubiquitous networks, ubiquitous computing, ubiquitous information, at unlimited speed, about everything, everywhere, from anywhere, on all kinds of devices.”

      I wrote a post about this called Black and White Education. I ended the post asking, “How many channels of information do our students experience outside of our classes? How many in our classes?” …which fits well with your final sentence:

      “We NEED to start meeting kids in their Digital Spaces. And we need to realize learning is a social science that can not be measured like what most of the general public views as science.”

      Very well said!

      August 27, 2010

Comments are closed.