Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Classroom Management in the Digital Age

I have embraced a BYOD classroom environment for the last two years, working with Grade 7 and 8 students. The first year was incredible. The students understood the rules and were able to follow them without much instruction. Last year, on the other hand, was a disaster that seemed to get worse. Enter Classroom Management in the Digital Age by Heather Dowd and Patrick Green.

Because the first year had been so easily managed, I believed that the students in the second year would simply know how to manage their time and be able to self-regulate with their devices. I realize now that I didn’t “set clear boundaries and other support structures to help them succeed,” (xv) and this made the experience so much more frustrating. Classroom Management in the Digital Age reminded me that in the digital classroom, as in the analog world, these expectations and boundaries have to be taught, monitored and reinforced throughout the year.

Classroom Management in the Digital Age is packed with ready to use ideas and options for a variety of digital classrooms. The first and most important procedure is calling the students’ attention. As in any classroom, making sure the students are listening and hearing instructions, without being distracted, can be difficult. In a digital classroom, there are even more distractions. In the first chapter, Dowd and Green remind us that students should not only be looking with their eyes, their hands need to be off of their devices, their screens need to be unseen and their earbuds need to be out. AND, this expectation needs to start at the beginning of the year and be monitored. As a fairly laid-back teacher, I laxed on this in the second year. That was one of my downfalls.

Later in the text, teaching the students about the myth of multitasking, closing unneeded apps and tabs and talking about music as a distraction for most students is also discussed. Giving the students the opportunity to consider these ideas and then, encourage them to help themselves by setting goals that alleviate some distractions is important.

Another topic within the book included the importance of the Care of the Device. The care of devices that were not theirs was a challenge for my students last year. Two of our headsets were broken through simply indifferent behaviour. The students were much more careful with their own devices but, if you are in a classroom in which the devices are school based, this section of Boot Camp and the poster section is really important. As always, consistency and monitoring of the most important rules are key.

Digital Citizenship and Teaching Research Skills are also relevant throughout the book. Although many students know what to do when they come across an inappropriate website in school, and they know what cyberbullying is, many don’t know how to vet a website for truthful content. The book shares many resources for lessons about Digital Citizenship and Research Skills, as well as other topics, throughout the book and in the resources section.

Finally, Dowd and Green also discuss Classroom Management that is helpful for all classrooms -- deciding the layout of the classroom and where the teacher should be, using posters and anchor charts, communicating a day’s agenda, activators and communicating with parents are all important aspects of a teacher’s job, whether we are teaching in an analog or digital classroom.

In the end though, working in a digitally infused classroom is a relevant way to ready our students for the future. Teaching students to be responsible in their digital usage is most important and this book offers so many tips and thoughts about how to do this. Classroom Management in the Digital Age could be read by a teacher just delving into this new world of education or those who simply need some new ideas. I will definitely be implementing some of these concepts into my class in September.

Tracy Morrison I am a proud teacher and mother of 2 boys. I have been teaching for 20 years and I love working with students of all ages in non-traditional classroom settings. I love change and reading new research / going to workshops and conferences is a passion. Connect with me @tracymo22

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