Classroom disruptions are a way of life, especially at high school
Try this fun test: Class just started. Start your timer now to see how long till you have to stop to bring things back in order. How long was that? 10 minutes ... great!
Who are we kidding, unless you are showing the latest Avenger movie (and even then), disruptions are going to occur ... often! Here are some key classroom management strategies we learned from our teachers' experience and by researching some of the most common articles online
#1. Cooking without your pot?
The most seasoned chefs take great pride in their cooking ware.
In most of our research we found bloggers rarely talk about technology tools, they are more focused on classroom management styles or even more esoteric topics, such as the philosophy of classroom management. It's almost as if these blog posts were written 10 years ago with no technology to be found in the classroom.
How can you have 30 students glued to their screens and not expect them to go off on tangents
The top requested feature for us was being able to know what students are looking it at a given moment. The classroom view (see below) shows you the sites students are visiting real-time.
It could also be handy to take a quick glance at their screens (see image at bottom of this article)
#2. A gentle & humorous nudge
When a student goes off, simple force (aptly called FORCE in ClassroomAPP -- see image above) them back to where they should be. If you want to add a humorous tone to it, call them out in the classroom.
Now YOU are part of the fun. YOU disrupted them. And .. you prevailed
Guess what, they WANT their screens (ever see a teen NOT complain about facebook and yet never close their account). You are in control and YOU disrupted them. You politely asserted the upper hand, and they tacitly acknowledged they can't win this battle. But, they still want their screens.
They'll continue playing along and you now have control
#3. Plan, learn, plan ... repeat
Many teachers believe that with technology being so versatile, less planning is needed. It couldn't be further from the truth. It is precisely this versatility that makes it easier to go astray.
- Plan the order of resources (With experience, you will have backups too)
- Make sure your resources are short and sweet (Do you quickly scroll through your facebook feeds? How can we expect a teen to stick to a page for 45 minutes?) A nice rule of thumb is 10 to 15 minutes per activity
- Plan for contingencies -- i.e. backup resources you can use for some students who are done early or can't focus (Use individual force to get them onto that page temporarily)
We listed below a few references on Classroom Management Strategies for High School. They are quite traditional (typically, these articles are written by retired freelance teachers), so would complement well our technology-focused approach.
However, and this is a big however, we sometimes need to adjust the traditional with technology.
Please keep this in mind as some traditional strategies won't work as-is with technology. For example instead of 'Post it on the board' advice, have a Google Doc open that you can force students onto when need be to get them back on track or remind them of task sequence
Finally, teacher are often forced to multi task. Taking a quick glance at student screens while teaching would provide visual cues without disrupting your own thought process