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 -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 yesterday morning:

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
http://pairadimes.davidtruss.com/miss-management/ … 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kowGRhWAJeM

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?

Miss Management

9 comments on “Choose Your Battle

  1. Claudia,
    There is too much in your post to call it a rant, and yes we are on the same carrousel… Though we are viewing things from different vantage points, we are seeing the same pattern in the educational scenery (again and again and again).

    Your quote here could have been put seamlessly into my post:

    “We already know it’s about shifting power. Tight teacher control is a hindrance to foster empowered students who own their learning paths. We need to be aware of the old way finding its way to surface in what we question…
    Tech is tech no matter what it does. It’s innovative in its nature. We can tell by the huge resistance to it. If there is no resistance in the process, we are probably facing improvements and weighing their gains in efficiency points. Good enough, only it is not an innovation. Innovation is not about “more or better”, it’s about “different”.”

    And I love this point,

    “… students are not digital natives. They know very little about educational uses of the technology they have been using for entertainment purposes only. They are quite ready to resist thoughtful, time consuming uses of the same technology. Particularly if they have had no part in choosing or deciding together with the teacher how we would use it.

    So true! I wrote about this same idea here: “The digital native, the digital naive, and the digital divide” – Back in the day when I was in the classroom, and still building walls on a private blogging site rather than being fearless and ‘open’, (I had my own learning curves to climb).

    But your post also adds a new dimension to what I’ve said. There is another battle being fought and it really shouldn’t be. You say,

    “Stay out of the tug-of-war. It is not a moment to think if the school is wrong in imposing it and teachers are right in resisting it. It’s probably the moment to get together and go ahead purposefully. This is short-term thinking, though. Somehow teachers need to communicate to managers that the buy-don’t-ask is an unhealthy approach from now on.”

    What a wise point, when teachers and school leaders are not on the same side, the battle I mention is lost before it is fought. “High expectations about appropriate use,” can only be achieved if resources and attitudes to support this are in place.

  2. I feel tempted to do some linguistics analysis here. I have used the expression “tag-of-war” and you have the word battle in the title and the “war zone” at the end. I didn’t escape my notice that you were digesting this post a long time before publishing. I spent a long time of my Sunday writing it and had to give my mind a good break before finishing the post. I sense the war zone has taken our heads! Hope we find perspective reading each other.

    And yes, the way you quote and comment shows we are thinking scarily similar.

    I see your concept of “high expectations” and my belief that there are “no levels” are related. It’s hard to design a syllabus with levels of adoption and then expect results easily measurable. This is a core issue for me: to what extent can we formalise the teaching of informal learning?

    Teachers want to access the list of best practices. A valid wish, I’d say. Reality is that learning is messy. So what are we teaching if we give them a syllabus and save them the time to dip their fingers into the pool? Far from learning autonomy.

    The battle seems to have moved to management. Managers expect teachers to welcome and appreciate their efforts to spend money in tech and time to train them. Little do they know that all tech is beta and, as such, it will always require more of their time managing innovation adoption. Talk about digital distraction.

    Then there is the ·entertainment” ingredient. This is the other side of the coin of “motivation”. I didn’t mention games in my post because there are lots of experiments of games applied to education I still haven’t started exploring. So I have an outsider look. My question is:

    Can motivation or entertainment power justify a classroom practice?

    Motivation is good to get started, yet it is not an aim in itself. Education to me is as entertaining as, but not a game.
    .-= Claudia Ceraso´s last blog ..IWBs and the Fallacy of Integration =-.

  3. I like the Occam’s Razor element to the proposition, Dave:

    Wouldn’t our job as educators be more unified, purposeful, and centred around a singular theme if we were to focus on the “High Expectations of Appropriate Use”? An emphasis on individual responsibility and trust should be our focus in the classroom. Why should it be any different when it comes to our (or our students’) use of tech in the classroom?

  4. Being a District IT leader, this is a pressure point I face regularly. Our philosophy as you know is to be open and only block/filter when something is clearly of no educational value AND disrupts educational use.

    For example we decided recently to block bittorrent (still trying to do this without disturbing other acceptable uses…). But, any time I communicate broudly on this topic, I get dozens of teachers asking us to block facebook, youtube, or other tools. I totally understand why – these tools pull kids off task from the teachers perspective. I may feel the same way were I in the classroom teaching, being in control…

    Anyway, I really think the battle is worth fighting carefully with the aim to remain open and use elegant solutions to mitigate the problems. And, we need to address poor online uses like any other unacceptable behaviour.
    .-= Brian Kuhn´s last blog ..Device Wars =-.

  5. David, love the post. As a comment, I feel like it needs to be said that we can’t put this genie back in the bottle. Kids have POD’s and use them. They text in my class, and they know I know it. I do NOT believe that it is an insult to me for them to take ten seconds to fix a date for lunch by the third column next to the windows. If a student is blatantly abusing my good nature. we have a chat. Therein lies the crux. Is in-class usage about the fear of losing control? I had a hard time at first, too. I WANT my kids to hang on my every word. Not gonna happen. The teenagers I teach are fabulous, highly social people. I believe I can spare them a ten second text. Knowing that I’m not gonna jerk the phone away and turn it in to the office actually makes them a little more conscious of appropriate use. And, if they go overboard…well, they just HATE that “chat”!

  6. Yvonne – I like your “can’t put this genie back in the bottle” comment. How true. Also, you wanting the kids to hang on your every word… doesn’t matter if they have a “device” to tune out with, we used to do it with other “devices” (writing in the margine of our textbooks – remember the flip cartoon ‘movies’ we would make?). I think the key is, make their time meaningful, productive, and interlaced with fun, in the classroom and they’ll tune in. No different than adults in a business meeting really…
    .-= Brian Kuhn´s last blog ..Device Wars =-.

  7. Thanks for your comments,
    I think each of you have touched on the idea of “High Expectations” and I like the questions that were asked,
    Claudia:
    Can motivation or entertainment power justify a classroom practice?
    Motivation is good to get started, yet it is not an aim in itself. Education to me is as entertaining as, but not a game.

    Bryan J:
    Wouldn’t our job as educators be more unified, purposeful, and centred around a singular theme if we were to focus on the “High Expectations of Appropriate Use”?
    Yvonne:
    Is in-class usage about the fear of losing control?

    The rest of Yvonne’s comment demonstrates the difference between respectful management and ‘control’.

    And also Brian K sums things up really well here:
    I really think the battle is worth fighting carefully with the aim to remain open and use elegant solutions to mitigate the problems. And, we need to address poor online uses like any other unacceptable behaviour.

    That last sentence is the point behind the set of 5 slides starting here in my POD’s presentation:
    http://www.slideshare.net/datruss/the-pods-are-coming/64

    Thanks again for your comments!
    ~Dave.

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