Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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Also, on the drive today I was reflecting on another conversation I continue to have with schools, technology directors, school leaders, and educators. That is the idea of student monitoring software. You know…the software that allows teachers to see what students are working on in real-time. Over the years this technology has gone from allowing teachers to see what students were doing on their devices to giving teachers full control to close tabs that students might have open, to see what applications they have on their devices and even lock their screens so they can’t cheat while taking an online test or quiz. 

Now…for years I have had major issues with this software. I understand that many districts need it to comply with state and or federal laws. Yes….if you are in a public school, it is a law that you track students…and employees for that matter. In fact, most businesses I talk to track in some way what their employees do on a business issue or school-issued device. It just makes sense. I get that. 

So first off…let’s tell students that. Let’s tell students we are recording every website you visit every click that you make on your device not because we don’t trust you, but because that’s what businesses do. They track me too. Do students know that? Do students know this isn’t a trust thing…it’s a law thing. I believe it’s important for students to know that….and for students to know this is relevant information for when they are out of school as well. This is transferable knowledge to the workplace. Understand…that if you are on a device owned by a company or cooperation everything you do on that device is probably being tracked. It’s well worth the time to have this conversation with students. 

Next up….educators please stop using this software as a way to punish students. I call it playing whack-a-mole because that’s what it reminds me. Today for example as my training was starting I had three teachers who had this software open on their devices watching their students work on an assignment in their classroom. If a student went off task, aka away from the screen the teacher thought they should be on,…they would just close the tab. No conversation, no follow up, just WHACK! Get back to work WHACK stop going there WHACK! That’s not what you are supposed to be doing. 

Playing whack-a-mole is not a classroom management strategy. Playing whack-a-mole does not change behavior, it does not support learning, it is not a transferable skill. It’s nothing more than a method to say “I don’t trust you!” 

A teacher who plays whack-a-mole needs classroom management strategies to help them in their connected classroom. Every time I see this happening in my trainings or hear teachers talking about how great it is to have this software I can’t help but cringe for those students. 

Put yourself in the student’s shoes…..pretend you’re a 7th graders for a second. What’s going through your mind? How does this behavior break trust and relationship building in your classroom? 

Now…there is another way to use this software, and that is to build relationships with students, to start conversations, to help them with time management…that we don’t teach but somehow just expect students to know how to do. 

In the end, I understand why we have this software. I understand it’s needed and I want schools and educators to protect themselves. But I want this software to come with a caution sticker. 

CAUTION: This software is not a classroom management strategy

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