Monday, July 18, 2016

Tip #5 for a Successful 1:1 Implementation: Make Classroom Management an Early and Continuous Focus

“Teachers new to 1-to-1... need help with classroom management and technology management issues. 1-to-1 programs can thrive or disintegrate on this one issue alone...” (Livingston, Pamela. 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs That Work. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education, 2006. Print.)
Even room arrangement is important when moving 
in to a 1:1 environment so teachers can freely walk
anywhere in the room to help students as necessary.
This statement from ten years ago still holds true today. When failed 1:1 initiatives make headlines, I often wonder how much was due to the planners' lack of understanding on just how much classroom dynamics change. Managing a room of students with individual screens and the Internet at their fingertips is not something most teachers were ever taught to do in their undergrad preparatory courses. Plus, until recently, very few teachers ever experienced this environment in their own schooling. It is critical to plan for and address classroom management when beginning a 1:1 program and it is also essential to repeatedly revisit classroom management throughout the following years of implementation in order to be most successful. Like almost all professional development, once and done on this topic isn't enough.

Even though we are starting our sixth year of 1:1 for students in grades 5-12, we continue to revisit and discuss best classroom management practices with our teachers during trainings throughout the year. Each year we also have new teachers hired who are also new to a 1:1 environment, so they need this knowledge and benefit from hearing tips and ideas from their more experienced colleagues, too. Some of the best practices we cover include:

  1. Teachers discuss the need to set up class expectations and routines to help students make the best use of a device and make sure they understand expectations and appropriate use. This includes instructions and discussions with students about listening, focusing and staying on task when using a device. It sounds simple, and some may assume that the students will know what to do, but taking time to discuss "My job" and "Your job", expectations using the devices and what focus and attention mean and look like will pay off.
  2. Teachers also use common vocabulary to efficiently communicate iPad use expectations during class time.  This common language allows for smoother and quicker transitions as students switch between the various activities in a given lesson. Statements like "iPads flat" or "Apples up" (the logo on the back of the iPad, meaning the iPad is face down on a desk) are known by all students in our program.
  3. While it may seem obvious, we remind teachers of the benefits of proximity teaching, moving around the room as they teach versus standing up front. We also encourage teachers to evaluate their room arrangement (as pictured) to make sure they have multiple pathways around their classroom, including a way across the back of the room. For a fun take on proximity teaching, check out Carl Hooker's 2Eyes and Feet App.
  4. We also use technology to help with proximity teaching. Teachers utilize Air Play through a desktop computer program called Reflector to mirror the teacher's iPad. We provide teachers with Splashtop, a remote desktop app, that allows teachers who have traditionally taught from the front of the room to be “unchained” and move freely in their classrooms, improving their use of proximity teaching as a classroom management tool. They are able to control their desktop computer and SMARTBoard which are connected to a projector from anywhere in the room. With both of these tools, teachers have the flexibility to instruct from any location in their classroom using whatever tools they want to utilize. As these tools improve, interactive whiteboards will become obsolete. We are discussing plans to not replace them in the future.
  5. When students aren't following the rules, teachers address the misbehavior and not the device. Think of a student who may be playing a game or watching a video; the misbehavior is being off task. Taking away the 1:1 device would be similar to taking away paper and pencil from a student a decade ago if s/he was caught writing a note or reading a different book. Don't take away a student's learning tools as punishment. Instead, students who are off task may be reminded by the teacher to focus. If the student doesn't stop/correct the issue, perhaps a discussion with the student's parents is scheduled, or a visit with a principal after multiple occurrences. For some students, a solution may be to put their device in Guided Access or remove some apps through Restrictions managed by our MDM. After some time, then this is removed.
These are just a few classroom management tips, but there are more. Our teachers are innovative and creative and always coming up with better ways to do things. This is one of the benefits of our continual professional development; they are always sharing and learning new tips and ideas from one another.

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