As always, I had out my paper and pen to make notes (I still old school prefer to write and then type up later) and scribbled away. As he became a new dad in August, he shared some of his life story with us and talked about how his child was born with internet access, YouTube, all kinds of technology as a given. Like breath. I think we often forget that. Kiddos come to school and are told to put away their critical connection to the world. He said that we live in a "culture of don't" and students are frequently just told what not to do. But, none of us are as engaging as YouTube and if given a choice between you and a great YouTube video, you may not be able to compete with that. But, if you have a good relationship, you will have a better result. I totally agree... I try really hard to build positive relations with my students. I'm sure I fail many times, but it's a priority for me. Oh, and one more big takeaway--he said that social media (like Twitter) is literacy now and students need to learn how to use it or be considered illiterate (and adults too). I agree! (as a business teacher, it is difficult to teach some of this with so much blocked at school and it's a big part of business nowadays)
I digress, but man, it would be amazing to teach under the leadership of this guy!
Then, I attended his breakout session, which turned into an open forum. We had to ask questions in an online form, and he picked mine to answer (I'm not sure how thrilled I was about that... lol). I questioned him on how to better deal with cell phones in the classroom. I teach in a lab and trying to find the fine line between 'you can use your phone' and 'put it up' is difficult for me. I wanted some advice on how to better deal with it. I've asked my daughter, who is 15, about her feelings.. .and of course, I know that if "students are engaged they will tune in" but I also know they are teenagers and they experience great FOMO so phones can easily distract (and many are not mature enough to self-regulate). I had already planned to loosen up my policy for the next school year, but I just needed some help. His advice was basically to set the bar--tell them what you expect (you know they will be on SnapChat or Instagram, etc.) and that it is fine to use their technology for what they feel is suitable. But, that only works as long as their WORK meets a specific standard. So, if you are able to listen to me, learn the content, apply it... it's fine. If it's a distraction FOR YOU, then it's something we need to work on.
Well, I'm going to try! I hope it works. I suppose George can expect a report from me in August or September with how this works out! (and, let me tell you, I am terrified starting loose that I will be stuck the whole semester if they don't respond well to this, but I am going to give it a shot! Oh, and I am a "Desktop" person btw. Follow up: After the session, I found this interesting blog post about phones. Check it out.
Lunch was up next and we had students share technology things happening in their schools. It was a pleasure to hear them--I knew most of them since I am from around this area, but it's so nice to see students talking about the things they enjoy at school! One of my Advisory students even presented. How cool!
"School sucks for kids."
"You can't force a kid to do something they don't want to do."
He said that motivation is critical. And if we agree that most of what we teach students they won't use again, how do we teach it to them? There is a difference between motivating for compliance and motivating for learning. He said grades don't motivate students to learn (they motivate smart ones to comply) but positive feedback does (think social media likes). He talked about autonomy, homework, and other factors that help or hinder learning. His presentation was intended to ruffle some feathers (and it did ruffle some!) but it was a good reminder to review how you teach and why you do things the way you do them.
To end the day, I gave my own presentation on Multimedia tools. Check it out!
It was a fabulous conference and so energizing! If you didn't go this year, you have to go next year! :) Mark your calendar for June 19 & 20, 2018.