This technology policy is written with the high school sciences and maths in mind. This is due to my background in science and paired with my desire to teach high school as opposed to the younger grades. In my PSII practicum, I taught Biology and Chemistry for the most part. I also taught some general science and some Physics as well. Ideally I’ll teach some math once I’ve been employed as well.
I definitely feel that I’m on the liberal side of the technology-in-the-classroom setting. In my PSII practicum, my TA and I had different ideas on the way technology should be handled in the classroom, but he made sure that I knew that when I was teaching then it was my classroom, so I could do what I liked and experiment with my own ideas and philosophies in a safe environment. It was very helpful when figuring out my own policies and gaining experience with their consequences.
First off, although I allowed personal devices in the classroom, I made sure that the students knew that when I was talking, they were not on their devices. I warned the class that if the devices became a problem then they would have to keep them away for good. I used one of my dad’s best lines, “It’s a privilege, not a right.”
The same rule would apply to individual students if phones or devices became a problem while they were supposed to be working then they would also have to put them away. Very rarely did I find that I had to exercise this, as most of the time the students were pretty good about getting down to their work. I want to make a note that I’ve done enough reading to be wary of actually taking a students’ device away from them over liability concerns. If a case were severe enough to warrant it, then I would probably make a “parking space” on the base of the whiteboard and have the student leave their device there to be picked up at the end of class. Ideally I’d have a strike system, giving students chances (strikes) to put away their devices on their own first before requiring them to put them at the front of the room.
My main reason for wanting to make sure that I allowed personal devices in the class is because of music. In some classes, like math or Physics 20 where there is a lot of leg work to get through the questions, I find that most of classroom time is best spent just giving students time to work. Sufficed to say, this can get a little tedious and it makes the time more enjoyable if the students are allowed a little bit of diversion. By allowing students to listen to music, the time can become more enjoyable and a little less laborious. What I find too is that if the students don’t have music then they’re more likely to get distracted by chit-chatting with each other and hence less work gets done. Music then has the dual-advantage of keeping the students in their own little worlds and lessening the temptation of talking with friends.
There is also an aspect of research available to be used for personal devices; I’m big on students finding their own answers, so I would encourage them to look them up online, but only after I’m sure that they’ve gone through some other resources first, such as the notes or friends. For example, if they’re looking for an answer that I knew we’d talked about yesterday, I would have them check their own notes first, and if they can’t find them there then it may be a sign they need to keep better notes. IF they ask several friends and none of them know, then it may be a sign that I need to encourage better note-taking or that I might need to give better notes to begin with. Either way, having the internet in your pocket is a handy tool for being able to find information on the fly and I want to be able to take advantage of that. Ideally I would also like to have computers in the classroom which students could make use of, but we’ll see if that ever happens.
Overall, I find that I’m very liberal with my classroom setup and technology use. I don’t want to run a tyrannical class where students dread to go, but on that same token I need to make sure that I keep the line between liberal and free-for-all well-defined so that classroom management doesn’t get out of control.