A question even I get asked as a school counselor; how do you manage laptops in the classroom? Good question, and one with out a solid, universal answer I think. Managing laptops in the classroom environment is just another (albeit challenging) aspect of classroom management. And as we all know, those of us who have been in other teacher’s classrooms or tried some team teaching, every one of us has a different management style, approach, and level of tolerance.
As with general classroom management, I don’t think there is a more right or wrong way of doing things-everyone has to find out what works for the individual AND the particular group of students you might happen to find yourself working with. I know that there are certain classrooms and groups of students that require me to alter my management style-this is not really different for managing laptops in the classroom. I also feel it is about a personal comfort level, too. For example, some teachers use the ‘lids down’ approach when there is direct instruction happening. Others feel that the level of attention they get from their students with ‘lids up’ works for them. Again, find what works for you and your kids.
Another strategy I find myself using is borrowing from the experienced! Just like we do with other classroom management issues, we ask those that have figured out how to make it work. Every time I see a teacher using laptops in the classroom I learn from it-whether it’s what I want to do when I’m using laptops with students, or it is what I don’t want to do!
For those that are concerned about students being ‘off task’ and not using the computer for what they are supposed to (i.e. on Facebook), I don’t find it to be that major of a concern. I mean, really, that’s not much different than the student who is always hiding her novel inside her science textbook during class (hey, I WAS reading classic literature some of the time). I was able to still do pretty okay in my classes. Whereas Eli, who sat next to me, managed to distract himself quite well with just the molecules in the air-and he did not do so well academically. So having laptops doesn’t seem like it changes things that much. The kids who can be off-task and still do well, will. Those like poor Eli…well, computer or no computer, his teachers had an uphill battle! Maybe the laptop could have actually helped distracted Eli…