It’s so easy to do. We inject technology into classrooms and schools and offer lots of professional development. Time goes by; in some classes it takes, and in other rooms tech integration still struggles. We hear the teachers cry, “we need more tech PD” and we scramble trying to figure out what we missed and how we can create more effective professional development.
It happens all the time: we put technology into a classroom, things don’t go as planned, and we blame the technology. That must be it, right? Not necessarily. At what point does it stop being a technology problem and start becoming a classroom management problem.
Teaching strategies from 20, 10, even 5 years ago may no longer work. Our students are different, our strategies must change in response. If you take a room with poor classroom management and introduce an educationally disruptive and potentially addictive device, what do you expect to happen? Of course it won’t go well. But that’s not a technology problem, and because of that all the technology PD in the world won’t fix it.
So what do we do?
We need administrators (evaluators) to help out. They need to work with teachers to refine their classroom management skills. If teachers struggle with teaching reading or math we know how to have those difficult conversations about improving. But too often we seem to look the other way when it comes to classroom management, even though it transcends every lesson we teach! We say to ourselves, “everyone is different,” “everyone has their own style.” Yes, that’s true, but some styles are ineffective. And those styles need to change. We’re not doing our students any favors by overlooking these rooms.
If technology integration, if 1:1 environments, are going to be successful we need classrooms with strong classroom management skills. Period.
My district emphasizes the importance of engaging lessons; I agree that’s extremely important to what we do. But engaging technology-filled lessons with poor classroom management will lead to failure every time. And not because the teachers need more tech PD. If we’re going to solve this problem, we need to address the root causes.