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Technology in the Classroom

Not all technology advances are "SMART."

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Technology in the Classroom

In the interest of enlightening the youth of America, educators have been encouraged to incorporate technology into their classrooms. Chromebooks, Smartboards, Kid Blogs, FlashNotes, and many other programs, gizmos, and gadgets have been introduced to the classroom in an effort to stimulate and maintain student interest and attention. Too often though, the only technology students are interested in is their own smartphone. Teachers are constantly battling the ever-growing list of distractions that a smartphone offers their students. The logical among you will say: “Duh! Just don’t let them bring their cell phones into the classroom.” Nice try, naive ones. Other than sporadic districts that employ techniques of hypnosis and the use of stun guns, I think the last successful enforcement of the “No Phone” policy was back in 1875, before Alexander Graham Bell opened up his can of worms. It’s actually cute for me to see when a new principal comes into a high school building promising to confiscate phones from students who are using them during class.

Here’s the way that usually goes:

H.S. Principal:Mrs. Fonzarelli, I’m calling to let you know that your son Potsy was using his iPhone during Trigonometry. As a result, Potsy’s phone was confiscated and he has been assigned one day of detention.

Mrs. Fonzarelli:Excuse me?!?! I don’t think so! If Trig class was this morning, then Potsy was probably just answering MY text. I planned on doing some grocery shopping this afternoon and needed to know if he wanted Boo-Berry or Count Chocula. You ain’t punishing MY son for having a conversation with his momma.

H.S. Principal:But M’am, he was texting during class instruction. We have a policy!

Mrs. Fonzarelli: POLICY? POLICY? If you don’t give my son back his phone this second, I will call a lawyer and sue your school and your policy! How dare you keep a child from talking with his mommy? What if an emergency happens, like I run out of Bon-Bons or something? I wonder what the newspapers and T.V. news teams would think about your school keeping my Potsy forcibly separated from his loving momma?

H.S. Principal: But M’am, we’re not separating you, just asking your son to pay attention in class. Can’t he talk to you about the grocery list during lunch, recess, study hall, or even after school? We have a policy.

Mrs. Fonzarelli:Are you saying that what your precious teacher is doing with my son during his time is more important than when I need to talk with my son? How dare you?!?

H.S. Principal:But M’am, the policy.

Mrs. Fonzarelli:Lawyer. Media. Period. Click.

H.S. Principal (to Administrative Assistant): Ms. Cunningham, can you call Potsy out of U.S. History. Return his iPhone with my apologies, and send a case of Bon-Bons to Mrs. Fonzarelli. Oh yes, and can you remove the section in the student handbook that states students can not use their phones in class? Thank you. No further calls for the day, Ms. Cunningham.

High schools aren’t the only places you have to deal with this kind of lunacy. Over the last decade, I’ve actually found it necessary to write into my college course syllabi, a section (see below) regarding phones, laptops, tablets, etc.

The following is an actual excerpt from my Introductory and Adolescent Psychology course syllabi:

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T…find out what it means to me” (and your grade): Beyond attendance, it is expected that students will arrive to class on time and not leave until the class is over. Cell phones will be turned to silent/vibrate and put away. Unless authorized through the DSS office, no laptops and/or tablets are to be on during lecture; if a student requires the use of a laptop or tablet, they will sit in the front row of the classroom. Respect is a two-way street, so I will do my very best to make sure you feel respected as well.

Some of you may be having trouble believing this has become a necessary, pre-course statement; Well - one of my students this past semester agreed with you - likely however, for a very different reason. I will do my best to quote her verbatim.

“Professor, is this part in the syllabus a real thing, or are you just trying to be funny? ‘Cause, we’re here for like an hour and somethin’ and I ain’t not lookin’ at my stuff for that long.”

I recall just looking at her and not knowing what to say (a relatively uncommon occurrence for college professors). I wasn’t sure what “stuff” she so desperately needed to see. I wasn’t sure if she was joking in an attempt to get a laugh from me or her classmates. I wasn’t sure if my syllabus addition had somehow just violated all of my students’ inherent Constitutional rights. I wasn’t sure if bears did in fact, shit in the woods. So I did my best to get my legs back under me and mustered up a less than confident - “It’s real.” She promptly picked up her backpack and walked out. I will confess to having a very real moment of anxiety where I felt like the 119 remaining students were going to follow her. Thankfully they didn’t. Instead, as the semester progressed, many of them just chose to ignore my seemingly futile edict.

Is history just repeating itself with a different medium?

1972 -

Mr. Lyman: “Victor, are you doodling while I’m teaching you and the rest of this class the capitals of all the states in this country?”

Me: “Ummmmm - no?”

Mr. Lyman: “Then what is that blob of scribble where your notes are

supposed to be?

Me: “Trenton.”

Mr. Lyman: “Principal’s office. Now!”

2017 - Me (stops lecturing to stare up at student who has been texting for last

two minutes): “We’ll all wait until you’re ready to join us.”

Student: “Why?”

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