Quick—What’s the most challenging part of classroom teaching?
Chances are your first or second answer is classroom management and that’s in the ordinary classroom. With one-to-one classroom technology integration, classroom management takes on a whole new meaning. Not only must you manage between 20 and 30 students, their individual learning paths, and the classroom environment, but you must also help them to use technology tools in ways that deepen learning, enhance creativity, and maximize time on task whenever possible. Make no mistake—this is no mean feat!
Computer technology alone does not improve student learning. It is how a teacher and his or her students use these tools that make technology a game-changer or a hindrance. WeAreTeachers asked educators who have experience with a one-to-one classroom to share their best tips on classroom management. Here are the six guidelines we heard most often:
1. Teach the Rules
“Teach good ground rules from the beginning,” writes teacher Canda King. Throughout the year, teach each new procedure for using laptops, starting with how and when to take laptops out and how and when to put them away. Be consistent with your rules. Post the procedures in your classroom so that they are always available to you and your students. Roll computer use out slowly. For example, teach safe search practices before sending kids online to research.
2. MWA—Manage By Walking Around
“Set your room up so you have plenty of space to walk behind students,” says fourth grade teacher Phil Weber. You want to be able to see screens easily to make sure students are on task not on Facebook and to be available to help students when they need it. If possible, use lab management software that allows you to see all screens and restrict access to only the applications needed, when appropriate.
3. Set Expectations and Goals
“Have clear goals for work needing to be completed,” says Maine teacher Marielle Edgecomb. “It is easy for kids to get distracted when they are online.” But if students know that they must have a page written, an outline produced, or an online assessment completed in a specific period of time, it will help your students stay focused.
4. Have a Backup Plan
“Be prepared for when students’ computers are being repaired,” says Kansas teacher Kelly Powell. Batteries can die, water can spill, and servers can be down. Be ready to change your lesson plan or your daily schedule to accommodate the inevitable glitches. In doing so, you’ll be teaching your students that there’s more than way to solve a problem!
5. Allow Exploration (with limits)
Students are less likely to want to play Minecraft in the middle of social studies, if they know that there are times during the week when free computer time is allowed—as long as class rules are followed. Give your students a chance to earn 15 minutes of free computer time through hard work and good behavior. “You’ll be amazed at the cool sites they’ll introduce you to,” says Pennsylvania teacher Sarah Moses. “Be open to letting your students take the lead.”