Sunday, July 7, 2013

Why Are We Afraid to Manage Misuse of BYODs?

I push around a cart of iPads to elementary students. The cart and iPads belong to the school. If a student disobeys the rules regarding iPad usage, there is immediate feedback to that student. I have been made aware of many teachers not feeling comfortable with managing misuse of devices in a BYOD environment. To be honest, in the beginning it baffled me but I tend to be on the side of a strict disciplinarian teacher instead of relaxed; I also teach elementary students which makes discipline easier (in my opinion).

So these thoughts have been mulling around in my mind:
a) Are the teachers that feel uncomfortable managing misuse the same teachers that feel uncomfortable with discipline as a whole?
b) Are these teachers the type that want to have positive friendships with their students and therefore feel uncomfortable changing the dynamics this way?
c) Is there a way for these types of teachers to feel more comfortable with technology in the classroom?
d) Isn't discipline something we MUST take on when we decide to be a teacher (might be stepping on some toes here)?
e)  Can we assist teachers in this area to help them?

There is a fine line that we as educators walk when interacting with our students. We know that if we are seen as a "tyrant" teacher, our students will shut down and not listen to us at all. We know if we are too soft, they will run all over us. As much as I love a very "fun-based" lesson, I also know some students have a hard time finding the balance between the "silly" and continuing to learn in the more relaxed environment. I get the a mother of teens, I live that movie as well.

Here is my fear if we DO NOT remain consistent across the board in our discipline of BYOD:
a) Students will see the school's inconsistency and think that the rules are fluid and flexible.
b) Students will sense the fear of the teachers (or see their desire to look the other way) and not see why we have those rules in place.
c) These teachers that seem so easy-going all the time eventually have their "boiling point" and out of nowhere they have a day in class where they snap and get fed up with the misuse because after a while even the rule-follower students start seeing there are no repercussions for breaking the rules. Then the students are like, "What's up with Mrs. Davis today?"  Our hypocrisy will be eaten for lunch.

So what do we do?
We have to be engaging in our lessons, we have to set limits from day one, we have to move around our classrooms and challenge the students that seem to be off-task by giving them a technology-based task. "Jessica, did you hear that term I just said? "Digital literacy," please look it up on right now and tell the class what the definition is." We have in that one statement, brought Jessica back into the classroom discussion and allowed her to use the technology in her hand.

We must remain consistent across the board because students need boundaries and teachers accomplish much when students remain within these boundaries. Does this mean we ban twitter, vine, or other social media? No, it means it is to be used as the teacher sees fit in the classroom but not opened if it has not been teacher directed. See my earlier post  for helpfulness on how to manage and set standards up front for you and your students.

Will it be easy?
Not always. Every lesson plan that I teach has varying degrees of responsiveness and qualities of engagement. I do believe it can be managed and the main thing is, we must not give up. As the new school year begins we must pinky promise each other that we will remain firm in our resolve to deal head-on with misuse of technology. We must work to be engaging. Our focus is not the technology, if we have to constantly deal with misuse, the lesson plan is lost. The technology should be what lubricates the lesson and makes it more fluid. We have to remember that the classroom is ours, and even though that device belongs to the student and their family, you have a right to expect proper use while it is in your classroom.

If a student was poking another student with a pencil during instruction time or throwing a pencil across the room at you when you were writing on the whiteboard, you would take the pencil and respond to the actions. The pencil belongs to the student just like the device does. Misuse is misuse and there are different degrees of misuse that you will have to deal with in the classroom.

How will you revamp your lessons to best meet the needs of your students now that you have the blessing of technology in your classroom?