Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Classroom Management in the Digital Age


Heather Dowd
Education Technology Coach

Nearly twenty years ago, when I walked into my classroom as a young, inexperienced teacher, a building old-timer chuckled at me. “Got your bag of tricks ready, kid?” That proverbial (or was it?) bag of tricks worried me. Was I expected to start juggling bean bags? Deliver knock-knock jokes? Spring backflips?  Thankfully, a mentor teacher stopped me from putting on a top hat and finding a magic wand and instead took me under her experienced wing. I learned her “bag of tricks” for managing my classroom, maximizing learning, and navigating a whole new terrain.  

Those same methods I used back then are still reliable, effective, and worth a try--but only if I was back in that same classroom with TVs on giant rolling carts and filmstrips that broke (or melted) in loud machines. Now, a lot of us are in one-to-one environments with iPads, laptops, and other devices transforming how we teach and how we build community. The devices are tools for learning, but sometimes in our transition to them, the tools feel more like a burden than a help. Transition years for device rich schools are unlike any school year for even the most veteran educator. Things as tiny as where the students eyes gravitate to enormous culture setters--like how you foster discussions--are transformed. Educators are a flexible crew; they know that the people that walk through their doors year to year will come with very different needs. But when the tools radically change, even the most adaptable of us can use a new bag of tricks.


We are excited to announce our latest collaborative project, Classroom Management in the Digital Age, a project fostered from four years working together and implementing a 1:1 program in the largest international middle school in the world. Singapore American School was not the first to go 1:1 (not by far!), nor will it be the last. In preparation, we researched in and learned from schools around the globe who pioneered best practices. Most importantly, we learned from teachers---the voices in the field who were bravely making changes to maximize learning and community. This book is a celebration of those voices and a primer for the other brave educators setting sail for the first time into the world of 1:1 or seeking a refresher in best practices for device rich classrooms.

After a successful launch, we brought our own experiences back to schools. While presenting our findings and our process, we were approached by teachers wanting the nuts and bolts. How do devices change routines? How do devices change classroom management? How do I keep the focus on the learning and not the screen? Both talented veteran and new teachers alike were seeking a guide.

Our book includes classroom procedures, rules, and expectations that you can implement in your classroom to minimize screen distraction and maximize learning potential. Technology offers us endless opportunities to get students communicating and creating in ways that weren’t possible before. Teaching tips and strategies that highlight efficient workflows and increasing productivity are included that make these opportunities a reality. Additionally, we’ve included strategies for partnering with parents to reinforce good digital citizenship and celebrate the learning happening in classrooms.  We’ve also included resources that you can freely download and use as tools within your classrooms and hallways.

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While education leaders will glean valuable insights for organizing and rolling out a 1:1 program, the core messages are targeted at classroom teachers. We hope that teachers in the trenches find the concrete examples easy to understand and immediately apply. Our main goal is that when teachers finish this book they feel confident and prepared to tackle the challenges AND opportunities that come with putting powerful creative devices in the hands of students.


Meet the Co-Author!
Patrick Green
Education Technology Coordinator
Singapore American School




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