6 Strategies for Managing Behaviour in an iPad Classroom

Classroom management is one of the number one topics discussed in iPad schools, by principals, teachers and parents. Many teachers I have met, many of who have taught for years, are afraid to use the iPads for any new tasks in case it causes classroom management issues. Below are a list of six strategies that I have found are the most effective in ensuring students are on task when using their iPads.

Self-Organized Learning Environment

Using the iPad in non-traditional ways helps stop challenging behaviours

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Andrea Hernandez via Compfight

Let go of some control

One of the reasons that many teachers fear technology in students’ hands is because it means there is another commanding force in the classroom. Students can search up relevant things (answers to questions they have) and irrelevant things (checking the sports score) during class time. This is challenging for people who have a ‘sage on the stage’ approach to teaching.

What helps me in this area is remembering what schooling was like before technology. It was not a magic time when all students listened attentively, hanging on to every word the teacher said. Students still passed notes and whispered or drew pictures all over their books. You can only control certain aspects of your classroom. Keeping this in mind will help your wellbeing, whether or not technology is involved.

Have clear expectations

Just as with any learning, if the expectations are clear then they are easier to follow. When using technology, the instructions for the learning task and for using the technology must be crystal clear, with no grey areas. The minute students are confused about what is acceptable and what is not, they will push those boundaries to find out exactly where those boundaries are.

Provide engaging tasks

Students will become distracted by their technology when the learning is not holding their attention. How often do adults do exactly the same thing; checking their phones when they are bored at a meeting or presentation? If the tasks are engaging to students, then they will be less likely to misuse their devices.

Stop the chalk and talk

As with the above, technology is not conducive to traditional ‘chalk and talk’ teaching. While there is always going to be some degree of teaching that occurs from the front of the room (such as explaining the learning objective), this time should be considered in relation to students’ age and relative attention levels. If you are in a 1:1 classroom and students need extra advice, help or instruction, consider using a tool such as Today’s Meet or Edmodo to deliver it – this means that the students who understand can keep working, while the students who do not can seek the help they need before continuing.

Move towards the ‘R’ in SAMR

If technology is used in traditional teaching ways, it is not going to be engaging enough to keep the students attention on their learning. Moving towards ‘modifying’ and ‘redefining’ tasks, as shown in the SAMR model, assists teachers to create more engaging and authentic tasks. Using devices well is a huge step towards managing behaviour; simply, the off-task behaviour will not occur to the same degree if students are interested in their task.

Using a range of tools also allows this to happen – I have taught challenging classes where every student was on task because they were using a fantastic tool that they had never seen before (in one case, it was Tellagami).

If something is vital, make sure their devices are shut

Sometimes, something needs to be said that is relevant and important for all students to hear. In these rare cases, ensure that all their devices have the screen of or are shut. It is only when they are shut that you can increase the likelihood that the students are listening to the fact that the sports carnival is on tomorrow/their excursion money is due etc.

Rebecca Davies

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