Today, student discipline referrals marked another setback for using personal technology in the classroom. Students in two different classes used their phones to take photos of their tests and sent them to other students who had not yet taken the tests. To make matters worse, the students who received the pictures chose to hold a loud public conversation about the test in the hallway where it was overheard by the teacher who was giving the test.
Several students spent a large part of the day in the office as principals dealt with the matter. It will mean many hours of parent meetings and phone calls, as well as the time lost in dealing with those students in making up the work missed from their time in the office. One principal commented to me in passing "are you sure you want them to use their electronics for class?" indicating "I told you so" about my inquiries into possible changes in policy.
On a more positive note, I have created a couple of resources for students that help them self assess their behavior and participation. One resource is a bulletin board and handout combination that includes the types of questions that I want students asking themselves on a regular basis. These include questions like "am I on schedule?", "am I on task?", and "do I understand *why* my answer is incorrect?" It is not a perfect solution, but it underlines many of the classroom expectations and provides a starting point for some much-needed frank discussions.
The second resource is a paper dialogue based on the Responsible Thinking Process (RTP). For the last 3 years, we have worked to implement an RTP system throughout our high school, providing students and teachers a graceful way to get out of conflict situations. However, due to a long story involving the say the State counts particular discipline data, we have been told that we cannot keep the system in place. I made the determination that I would keep the better parts of the system for use in my room, even if the building-wide system was no longer running.