A friend of mine recently told me that she was no longer allowed to let students charge their devices in class. I find this notion a little crazy to say the least. In this day and age where so many of us are connected, being able to charge a device seems like a no brainer. This notion of not charging devices sparked a conversation on Twitter. I feel the need to talk in more detail about how I approach the subject.
When I taught math I had charging stations in my classroom. I even had a variety of chargers the students could borrow if they needed one. The rule was that if you charged your device, you couldn’t go back to it without my permission and it had to be silenced while charging. This solved a couple of issues. Students would rush to my class to get a spot on the charger table. When the spots were full, then no other devices could be charged. This kept students from huddling around the various plugs in my classroom. Students that desperately needed power were also generally the ones that were most likely to try to access social media instead of paying attention to the lesson. While their phones were charging, that couldn’t happen.
It also provided me an opportunity to know which students had devices and which ones didn’t. This hidden survey allowed me to decide on what level of technology to use in a given class. Frequently, the students would use their phones to Google background information to share with the class. It was always interesting to hear them talk about who had the most data left on their plan. They may not be great at time management, but they were geniuses at managing data!
This year, I have a room full of computers. Students still ask if they can charge their phones. Of course, I say. But this year, all devices being charged must be “screens down”. Since we have the computers, students no longer use their own data as often. Now they have become the class cameras. I couldn’t be happier.
Do I think they use social media “behind my back”? Of course. I would be dumb to think otherwise. However, I must admit that I passed a note or two when I was in school and still managed to learn the material the teacher was providing. I can either drive myself crazy trying to “control” everything that happens in my class or I can help my students learn about proper use of social media.
I choose to model appropriate professional social media behavior. I discuss my online behavior with my students. We talk about why some postings can cause damage. We talk about our digital footprints. I share with them the value of a Professional/Personal Learning Network (PLN). I only hope they are listening. Maybe I’ll give them something to tweet about.
I hope so!