Managing Your Connected Classroom
Now that you’re committed to connecting your classroom, you may be anxious about the ways that students can get distracted by the technology you’re bringing into the classroom and how you’ll manage it all.
Managing your connected classroom can be broken down into two parts: managing distractions and keeping students on task.
Managing Distractions in the Connected Classroom
While the connected classroom is definitely equipped for learning, we know that there are ways for students to be distracted. But, fear not! The key is to set expectations about how technology should be used in the classroom, and what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Our Top 3 Tips for Managing Distractions in the Classroom
Student Created Guidelines
At the start of the school year, begin by developing some class guidelines for behavior with devices. We recommend facilitating this conversation with students so that the rules and expectations come from them. Not only will this empower them to make good choices, but there will be student buy-in when the expectations are developed collaboratively. As tempting as their devices can be, we know our students want to be productive learners too!
It’s inevitable that your students will want to explore, play, and experiment with their devices. As students grow older, that desire to explore shifts to wanting to check their text messages or social media. Building tech breaks into the school day will help to minimize the distraction of wanting to explore during instruction time. When students know they’ll be able to have time to play with or check-in with their social network during certain times of the day, they’ll be less likely to be tempted when you’re in the middle of a lesson. Even 2-3 minutes in the morning and afternoon can help students to refocus on learning.
In many classrooms, removing the distraction of the screen helps teachers instruct and get across important points. If you teach in a classroom with tablets, your rule can be to turn over screens when you’re talking, or with laptops, you can have screens at 45 degrees. Both of these variations make it easy to see when students are still engaging with their devices.
Keeping Students on Task in the Connected Classroom
Classroom management is a challenging skill at the best of times! Thankfully, managing a connected classroom is very similar to managing a non-technology classroom, with some ever-so-slight modifications.
Having a clear set of guidelines or rules set for your classroom at the start of the school year can help build positive technology habits that your students can transfer into their day-to-day lives.
4 strategies to help keep students on task in the connected classroom:
Bring fully charged devices to class
A dead battery is a guaranteed way to break a student’s focus. Setting the expectation that devices are brought to class fully charged will help minimize the disruption of a last-minute rush to find a charger before their device dies.
A very important strategy to implement is for screens to be in a down position at important times during the day. For example, when you are explaining a lesson or giving instructions, tablet screens should be face-down, or laptop screens should be tilted to 45 degrees. This helps you get their undivided attention when it matters most.
I highly recommend the use of “techxperts” in your class. These can be students that are either naturals with technology, or a small group of students specifically trained by the teacher to be able to help others with programs, apps, or skills, This helps to eliminate the stress of being “the expert” and having to help every single student that may get stuck while using technology.
Adding to the previous strategy, “3B4Me” suggests that students seek three sources for an answer to their tech question before asking you for help. Depending on the age of your students, the three sources could be the “techxperts” of the class or online sources like Google or YouTube.
These simple, yet easy to manage expectations preempt many of the issues that can arise when managing a connected classroom. However, every classroom is different, so you may need to add or remove some of these strategies that are or aren’t needed for you and your students. Rather than make a rule for every challenge that may arise with the use of devices, think about what expectations can help students to use the technology for learning.
If you’re interested in connecting your classroom, stay tuned! We’re launching a new cohort of The Connected Teacher microcredential, a year-long mentorship program designed to help you connect yourself and your classroom to the world.
Get a free preview of The Connected Teacher microcredential by downloading our digital download “6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Creating Tech-Rich Units.” This infographic walks you through questions that will help you to create authentic and purposeful technology-rich lessons for your students.
Be on the lookout for more resources about the connected classroom and for more information about our upcoming microcredential The Connected Teacher. The Connected Teacher will help you build and maintain a connected classroom, transform student learning through local and global connections, and leverage the power of local and global connections as a teacher and a learner. Registration for the next cohort of The Connected Teacher beginning in November is now open! Learn more about this exciting opportunity here.