Technology and Me – A Love/Hate Relationship
Unlike many of my fellow peers, I am rarely woken by the “radar” sound on my iPhone. Usually, the early morning ramblings coming from my child’s crib are the first thing I hear in those wee ours. We’ve been blessed with a (very) early riser.
This is not to say that my morning routine is void of technology. In fact, soon after waking, I pick up my phone and check to see if I have any missed messages from the night before, notifications on any social media apps, or emails. Even if I don’t see the little red notification circle on any home screen icons, I still usually spend at least some time scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or more recently, getting the daily Wordle done before I leave the house. I value the opportunity technology allows me to stay up to date with the goings-on in the lives of my family and friends. I also appreciate the outlet it provides to just…mindlessly scroll. Sometimes, it’s soothing.
Though I’m not currently working as I write this (thanks, broken leg), if I were, the school day would involve a variety of tech. Before the kids arrive, I would turn on the projector, as something in my daily plan would inevitably involve viewing a video, PowerPoint to accompany a math lesson, or any number of other things I wanted to make visible to the students in a whole-group setting. A number of teachers in my school division are “Connected Educators”, meaning they have access to one-to-one technology for all of the students in their classroom. Although I applied for this program, I was not chosen for it. Instead, I regularly use an Outlook calendar to book shared devices for my students to use. On average, I would say that my students use the laptops for about 1.5 hours each day, depending on the nature of assignments as well as availability of the devices.
Throughout the school day, I use various digital programs for a range of purposes. These include email, OneNote, Seesaw, Microsoft Teams, Planboard, and Clever. My students regularly use programs such as Adobe Spark, Knowledgehook, and more recently, my students and I explored PenPal Schools, a space that allows students to connect and converse with students from around the world. I have tried blogging with my students here and there, and have incorporated media tools such as Wakelet. Unsurprisingly, many of my students also have personal technology that they use throughout the day, depending on the current classroom policy surrounding cell phones.
This brings me to my qualms with technology. I’m at a point in my career where I struggle to find the balance between encouraging and teaching purposeful and positive technology use and constantly policing improper use during class time. It feels like a never-ending battle trying to pull my students’ focus away from TikTok when they’re supposed to be creating commercials for their business expo products or some other project I wrongfully assumed would be engaging enough for them to not even be tempted by their mobile apps. Sometimes, it feels easier to just say “Okay, no cell phones, period.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t the solution. And truthfully, I know it too. But I do struggle to find that balance. In an ideal world, every student who came into my classroom would have their own personal device and together we could use them to learn and fight for justice and solve all the problems known to humankind. But we live in the real world where inequality abounds, and personal devices such as iPhones allowed in the classroom present the dangerous risk of widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots. As a teacher of adolescents in the process of exploring and becoming who they are, I am more concerned about doing what I can to prevent students from feeling “lesser-than” in their own classroom… (and also with the whole being too concerned with their Snap streak thing to pay any mind to reducing fractions).
After the school day, once supper is finished and my daughter is asleep (or at least happily singing in her crib), I would typically either open up my laptop to do some correcting or planning, watch a show either solo or with my husband, or just relax and scroll. Sometimes, I’m okay to end the day this way. Sometimes, I wonder if I could be doing something better with my time…
And that’s what my day in the life – technology edition – looks like. In a nutshell, I appreciate technology and all that it allows for, including educational technology. I am, however, hesitant and even a bit resistant to fully immersing myself in this complex world. I am looking forward to challenging some of my own beliefs about the pitfalls and shortcomings of digital technology in this course and hopeful to maybe even find some solutions to my conundrums.
9 thoughts on “Technology and Me – A Love/Hate Relationship”
I enjoyed your thoughts on personal devices in the classroom. We only allow students to use their phones for educational purposes and they have to tell me why they are using them. I am short 10 laptops in my classroom and sometimes students need to do a quick search and it’s easier to do that than starting up a computer. I only have about 5 students that bring their phones to school, but it has definitely come in handy when we all need to use technology at one time.
Megan, this sounds very similar to what personal technology usage has looked like in my classroom(s). Maybe I’m especially jaded from this year as it was a bit of a “tougher” class, but how do you deal with devices not being used for the educational task and instead being used for other purposes (Snapchat, TikTok, music selection, texting etc.). I know of course there are probably clear consequences, but this has been such an issue for me this year, even with said consequences.
I like your discussion about tech in the classroom! Such an ongoing debate. I have 1:1 laptops in my room, so my argument is always that students don’t need their phones as they have access to all educational apps on their device, and anything extra on their phones are just distractions (tiktok, snap, etc).
But in discussing privilege and the technological divide, there are major concerns with isolating those who do not/cannot by even doing a Kahoot brainbreak.
Have you taken many of the ECI830-834 courses?? They are great and these types of questions are discussed and debated all the time!
Thanks for a great post!
Hey Dalton. Thanks for the comment! I appreciate that argument and I haven’t spent much time thinking about it that way (if they have a laptop they have access to all of those apps anyway). I think it’s also important to *try to* teach skills to resist distraction even though they have opportunities to not do what they’re supposed to. I guess this is a major part of our days in general…just teaching them to make the right choice. It all just gets a bit overwhelming sometimes IMO lol.
Yes…major concerns with privilege/divide indeed. It’s something that really weighs on me in my classroom decisions as I’m sure it does for you too.
I have actually! Just one, last semester–ECI832. I really enjoyed it. I’m registered for 834 in fall. How many/which ones of these have you taken?
I can relate a few things to your blog. Thank you for sharing your insights and thoughts! What you said “it feels easier to just say ‘Okay, no cell phones, period.'” is my debate interest. Although I haven’t started reading and researching this topic, I support this statement. Sometimes the cellphone needs to be banned in the classroom. Like in China, teachers will hold a basket at beginning of a class and ask students to put their phones into the basket. It might to strict methods of banning cellphone use during the class. I am not sure if it’s practicable in Canada. To avoid students distracting from their cellphone, there might be some sort of easier ways to solve that problem.
Also, I was wondering “if I could be doing something better with my time” too at the end of my day. For example, I could read a book instead of watching videos on TikTok, but I feel whatever makes you relax is important after a busy day. It doesn’t matter if you watch a show, read a book, or watch videos on TikTok. It’s all part of the self-care and recharging period.
Hey Echo! Yeah, this is definitely something I’ve seen/heard of in schools in my division so it’s safe to say this is a practice in Canada too. I have used a hanging pocket chart in my classroom at one point.
Yeah, that’s true–it’s maybe unnecessary to put pressure on ourselves to be doing something “better” if the alternative is just simply self-care, like you said. Thanks for the reminder!
I can relate to the frustration and uncertainty of where we should go with technology in the classrooms. Finding a balance is key – unfortunately everyday I feel as though we are getting further and further away from balance. I’m about ready for a ban – the hard part is having not having enough devices for use in our classrooms.
Yes absolutely! It does make you wonder if there’s a more realistic (and equitable) approach.
At the last school, I was at, we had a school-wide device policy that students and parents/guardians had to read over and sign talking about the proper uses of technology and if students go against it, what happens. This was a useful tool to have all teachers, staff, students, families, etc. on the same page, with the same expecatations. We relied heavily on students bringing their own devices to help bridge the access gap. At my current school, we do not have the same expectations, and it depends from classroom to classroom. This can make it difficult to hold students accountable and teach them good digital citizenship practices. It is something that we definitely need to work towards, but I think that this also has a big part of what leadership in the building takes on too. Right now in our current situation, this practice has not yet been adopted, yet I hope it does in the future.