In a recent workshop, I was asked: “Do you think that kids should just be able to bring phones to the classroom whenever they want?”
At the end of the answer, I always share that ultimately, the decision should be with the teacher as they know their community the best, but here are some things that I wanted people to consider.
- If you throw a “device” in the classroom without changing any of the teaching and learning, it will be a disaster. It is always best to see how we can use devices ourselves as educators in our learning and try some of those strategies with our students.
- The focus should be on “quality” of work than compliance. Some people, students included, benefit from having access to devices, and the quality of what they do in their learning will rise if they have access, while some are a detriment. If we make a blanket rule, does that hurt our students who would benefit? The focus for learners should be that we create opportunities for them all to be successful, but that looks different to each and every one of us.
- Focusing on the “don’ts” before we even have time with our students will never be as beneficial as setting high expectations of “yes” in the classroom. Telling learners (I include adults as well) they can’t have access to devices before I even meet them displays my assumption that they will do something wrong.
Again, each classroom community and student are different, so I always default to the teacher on what they believe is best. These are just some of my thoughts.
As I was discussing these opinions with the group, one teacher said to me, “So ultimately, your whole focus on this issue is about trust.” She summed it up beautifully, and I agreed with her. I believe that it is essential to give trust before it is earned, and that is what the vast majority of people working in any organization, including schools, would prefer. Yes, some people would let you down, and that sucks, but many more will live up to and beyond your expectations if you give them a chance.
Starting with the default state of trust is not always easy, but it is what we would hope others provide for ourselves,