When I got hired at a 1:1 school, I was excited but a little apprehensive as well. I knew I had a lot to learn about managing a modern classroom. Technology is here to stay, but we need to think seriously about how kids use it in schools.
All of my middle school students have Chromebooks. While this has its advantages, it can also has serious disadvantages. During my first year at this new school, whenever kids had a device at their fingertips, there were always a few who used it as a distraction rather than a tool. My lack of preparation and knowledge about using tech tools in the classroom was partially to blame.
Like any classroom management practice, it’s important to set expectations and consequences about the use of technology. I asked teachers for their best advice on managing kids who are abusing and misusing the internet. Here’s what I learned:
When students misuse computers
- “Require kids to keep their laptops on top of their desks, not hidden in their laps. They are not allowed to use them while sitting crosslegged on the floor, for example.”
- “Ask kids to screenshot and submit their browsing history. Do it at random so they can’t delete. Kids know how to delete their history faster than the most hackers.”
- “Walk over say “put your hands up” and take the computer and look at the history… some days I get a good laugh!”
- “Arrange your classroom in such a way where you can see every screen from one vantage point, if possible.”
- “Hang mirrors around the room at an angle so you can see screens.”
- “Do a lot of circulating around the classroom.”
- “If you think a student just closed an off task tab, you can click “ctrl+shift+T” and it will reopen their last closed tab! I’ve caught so many kids playing snake that way😜”
Some schools have software in place that helps teachers manage classroom technology, like Go Guardian or Vision. However, any teacher will tell you stories of students getting around these protections.
When students misuse phones
- “Ironically, one solution to the problem of kids being addicted to their phones is an app called Flipd. It creates incentives for less phone use, creating a game-like challenge.”
- “I require kids to place their phones in a hanging phone holder that I got from Amazon. Each kid has a number, which makes it easier to manage. Best decision I’ve made in a long time!”
- “I have a hanging cell phone “parking lot,” and it doubles as a charging station. I have a power strip right beside the phones. Since kids are always trying to charge their phones anyways, this kills two birds with one stone.”
- “Kids are always asking if they can charge their phones. I say yes, but the charging station is behind my desk, so I know it will be out of their hands during class.”
The bigger picture solution
When kids are invested, they’re more likely to be on task. If you can build a classroom culture of achievement, you will have fewer of these problems. Ask yourself: are your kids “on a mission” towards a destination that matters to them? Do you continually reinforce the relevance of what you’re teaching?
The ideal classroom is one in which students are passionate and joyful about their learning. Students have a sense of urgency about the work. Creating a classroom like this is easier said than done. But that’s what the profession is all about!
What are your tips for managing students who abuse technology? Leave a comment!