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I am beginning to look ahead at a few adjustments for my classroom next year. I have signs up in my classroom that forbid the use of cell phones, tablets, digital watches, etc. These signs are up not because I am anti-technology, but because the school where I teach is 1:1 with Chromebooks making the other devices mostly redundant.
Another statement on the sign says that those listed devices can be used with “express and direct permission from Mr. Moore”. These devices can indeed have a place in the education process and the classroom, but like so many of the rest of us, students need guidance about when those devices are most useful, and when those devices have the potential to simply be a distraction. It is in fact distraction that is tempting me to add a statement to the wall signage; “Chromebook use will be limited to appropriate times as directed by Mr. Moore”.
I don’t like this statement, primarily because of the underlying assumption about student Chromebook use. The clear message of this statement is that 14-18 year-olds cannot determine for themselves when use of the device is appropriate. I don’t want to believe this statement, but as 40-ish adult that will sit at the dinner table reading his phone if allowed, I understand the distraction temptation. I want to provide student choice and agency, but I am also tasked with training students to use choice and agency wisely.
My primary concern is respect for the group space. In every class period is a time for universal instruction and interaction. Sometimes that is quick, other days it is a significant part of the group time. What I see undercutting whole group interaction is students distracted by what is to be a learning tool during times where focused whole group interaction is the best method for the moment.
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