Classroom Charging Stations

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!

5 thoughts on “Classroom Charging Stations

  1. As a new teacher, I have faced the same dilemma. I’ve opted not to allow the charging on the basis of if I let one, then I have to let all. However, at my school cell phones are not supposed to be on during school, period. As a new teacher, I don’t want to be known as the one who lets the students not only have phones out, but lets them charge as well. (I already am the only one with a full-length mirror which makes my room a little too popular between classes; the mirrors have been removed from the restrooms.)

    I must say though, your rational for allowing students to charge is very valid. Providing the charging stations and using them as monitoring stations is smart. Using the open technology policy as a springboard for discussing social media issues is a wonderful way to positively impact students’ lives.

    Thanks for giving me a new perspective from which to view this cell phone issue. 🙂

  2. Having a popular classroom during break isn’t a bad thing. You see students that may need someone else to tell them how nice they look. Take advantage of that. Did you know you can use a dry erase marker on mirrors? Leave a note of encouragement or a reminder about an upcoming even. It might just make a difference.

    By the way, I have a feeling you are an awesome teacher. If for no other reason than your name totally ROCKS!

    Tammy Neil

  3. My daughter is a new math intensive teacher in middle school. This is the schools first year to computerize this class. The computers are antiquated Lenovo (huge) laptops. What do you suggest she use to charge these monsters up? She wasn’t provided a charging station, no extension cords allowed, she was told she can purchase a multi-adaptor to use to charge multiple computers at once, but I guess they sit on the floor to charge? Seems a bit careless and sloppy.

    Help!

    • Doreen,

      First, let me apologize for taking so long to respond. This is the very same scenario I had when I started teaching Game Design three years ago. Extension cords could not be permanently used. I had to unplug them as soon as machines were charged. There is no great solution to this problem.

      I had several power strips and students huddled around those outlets to keep their computers going. It was stressful and not the best for learning, however, we adapt as we must. I wish I could give a better answer.

      Tammy

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