With technology making it's way into our classrooms, teachers are having to modify their strategies for keeping students focused when necessary.  Creating signals, like "1...2...3...All eyes on me," are staples in the educator's toolkit.  However, as technology begins entering the classroom environment teachers, and leaders, are noticing that it's becoming increasingly more difficult to steal someone's attention when they are staring at an internet connected device.  Below are 3 Classroom Management strategies that I am seeing work extremely well.

1 - 45 your Device

We all know the frustration of asking for someone's attention and not getting it.  Sometimes this simply means they aren't interested in the topic of discussion.  However, more times than not, this means that our audience is more captivated by the beautifully glowing device sitting in front of them.  If the latter is the culprit, then develop a signal word with your listeners.  I like "please 45 your laptop."  This is a great strategy for a couple of reasons:

  1. By creating an understanding around a term like, "please 45 your laptop," you are establishing a common vocabulary.  Early in the year, communicate to your listeners what this term means, and the actions you like them to take.  It will take a little practice in the beginning, but in the end, you will have a strategy, and students will have an expected outcome.
  2. 45ing a laptop will allow your listeners to bring the device back in a quick and efficient manner.  If you ask for attention and the laptop is wide open, it will continue to provide a distraction, and ultimately steal your listeners attention.  If you close the laptop, it will often put it into sleep mode, thus robbing you of valuable work time when it's time to get back to work.  By 45ing your laptop, you are removing the glowing distraction a screen provides, and preventing the device from going to sleep.  

2 - Arms Length Away

When talking about children, and a classroom environment, simple tasks like putting a device away can be time consuming.  Therefore, I'm seeing that keeping a device at arms length, even when usage is hours away, is effective.  By keeping the device at arms length, you are showing that the device can be used for a number of reasons, and that it is on standby incase that opportunity presents itself.  I feel like this puts kids at ease, and can often prevent the question; "When are we going to use the laptops again?"  

Don't have space on a desk?  Try placing them in bins or on a nearby bookshelf.

3 - Let Student's Customize their Devices

Finally, having laptops in a classroom can be a huge distraction.  A lot of this distraction comes from kids wanting to play with their devices.  In many of the classrooms I've visited, I've noticed that students that were allowed to play and customize their devices early on, respected those devices further into the year.  

Think about it.  when student's are allowed to customize their devices, they take ownership over them.  When student's feel like something is their's, they often take better care of it.  Additionally, they will go to great lengths to keep the privilege of having their own custom device.  

I know that this might now work in some situations, but try to find ways to allow students to  gain a sense of ownership over their devices.  Even if it's passing out the same number each time, these little steps can help students feel more ownership.