After being away from class for a few days, I received a not so positive note from my substitute teachers. My first reaction was "how embarrassing." My second reaction was "really, you did what?" And finally, I asked myself, "can I hit the re-set button?"
The instructional coach on my campus wrote about the "re-set" button in a newsletter she sent at the beginning of the semester. I did not think, at that time, it was necessary for me and my students. We have a positive rapport and work well together - but being absent for three days indicated something had gone awry. My students seemed to forget about our agreements with regards to technology use in the classroom, which required that I come back to class with a better plan.
This is the first year I am working in a 1:1 setting with a cart of Chromebooks. There have been some great advantages to this, but I realize that my students have never been challenged with integrating technology for educational purposes. I started searching for some inspiration and found a great site on Edutopia dedicated to the question: Are we addicted to technology?
I used some of the resources to begin a conversation about effectively using devices in the classroom. We started by watching this video:
All of my students (juniors and seniors) laughed at the ridiculous situations presented in the film clip. They thought the representation was a little exaggerated - but then thought about their own actions in class. I asked them to make a T-Chart labelled "Appropriate" and "Inappropriate" so they could identify ways technology is used in academic settings. They quickly came up with a number of ideas; however, I challenged them to re-think the "inappropriate" category. This was a trick question as I was trying to get them to think about the purpose of technology and how our academic goals shift the use of devices and apps. Many of the items they deemed "inappropriate" could be shifted to the other column after careful application. The goal of this task wasn't to limit our use of tech; instead, I think this was the first time my students were even included in the conversation about the use of technology. Removing tech was not my goal. Actively reflecting on learning and the integrations of tech was just the start.
We then took some time to read an article called "Are You Addicted to Your Phone? Change Technology Addiction? Immediately one group piled their phones in the center of the table - taking a hint from the article. I told them that my friends and I had also done this when going out to dinner: all phones piled in the center of the table and first person to touch their phone pays. It was an effective strategy.
This mini-lesson helped me hit the re-set button in our 1:1 classroom. Are all of the issues fixed? Definitely not. Will my students act differently the next time there is a substitute teacher? Hopefully. While the dance party was probably entertaining and when the FAFSA rap they wrote went viral on Snapchat at our school, I knew the sub must have been at his wits end. In fact, my students inspired me to help them create a project using social media in order to share about the FAFSA and CA Dream Act. That's in the plan for the next couple week. I'll post some examples soon.
This situation reminded me that I, too, make mistakes. I admitted that this tech issue was partly my fault. It's never too late to hit re-set.