My wife dropped the big bomb on my yesterday. We were talking about the cell phone issue that seems to be surrounding the educational world lately–something akin to “I Love You, You’re Beautiful, Now Change,” replayed like “We love them, We all Have Them, Let’s Ban Them.” She asked me how I would use a cell phone in a classroom situation. I ran through my Polleverywhere.com deal and my Flickr email address picture thing, and mentioned how Liz Kolb said this and showed that. And then it came. The words I have been expecting for some time:
“But you are not in the classroom anymore, and you think ‘in theory.’ How do I make that work for 90 kids over the course of 8 periods in a day?”
In actuality, I loved the question, because it occurred two days ago and I haven’t gotten it off my mind (which tells me it was a keeper, as is she). But man, it stung slightly when it was originally posed. I miss the classroom. I miss kids and their messiness as they figure things out. However, what I am doing now challenges me in ways that I am not ready to give up.
Classroom teachers are asked to do an inordinate amount these days. Between knowledge of IEP’s for students and the push to differentiate instruction AND infuse technology into their practice, there is little time for some administrator type coming in and saying that cell phones are the savior. I get that. I get that there has to be some example, some established practice that shows results.
My response to not only my wife, but to everyone who would have reacted that way, is simple. What are you doing to engage your students? What is making them talk about your class and what happened in your room in third spaces? It happened when I was in school, so as Barry says, it’s not about the technology. But it is about their motivation.
I taught history. Some teach math. Any subject area teacher, aside from anything associated with the present day, struggles with relevance. I spent the majority of my time creating references and comparisons to present day situations so that my students could see the relevance in the events of the past. This is what we do: we find ways to reach our students and motivate them to learn about things that normally would not garner notice.
Recently, Jonathan Glater’s article in the New York Times, “Welcome, Freshman. Have an iPod,” spoke of how universities are beginning to leverage mobile technology to both lure students to their schools, but also to engage learning:
“We think this is the way the future is going to work,” said Kyle
Dickson, co-director of research and the mobile learning initiative at
Abilene Christian University in Texas
I agree, and Liz Kolb’s recent projection of mobile phone capabilities backs that up: smaller, faster, even more ubiquitous. I don’t know about the lot of you, but as for me, I’ll take anything that engages my students in learning. Tech or no tech. This just makes sense to me.