Many teachers biggest fear is losing control of what their learners are doing. Few things are more out of a teacher’s control than the moment they allow learners to disappear into their device/ smartphone when setting up a new app or user account for a new learning activity using technology. Compounding this “messy bit” are the moments of organised chaos that comes in a BYOD classroom that has ESL/ELL learners. The settings of the devices are in various languages and the icons are not always obvious to the teacher that is trying to trouble shoot for the students. Further to this is the anxiety of the learners, to be up and going, and their impatience at the seconds that it takes to download vital apps.
The best advice for teachers at this time is to take a chill pill, relax, the students will get to where you want them to go as long as you have asked them to find a bona fide web site or app. It just takes time. It seems an age but in reality it is just moments. In this age of super fast technology we sometimes,and often the students, expect the technology to be faster than it really is. If the teacher has modelled simply the stages of what is expected of the learner and the wifi set up is sound, it will happen. Simply be explicit when letting the students know before the activity that it will take a minute.
As teachers we have to learn to let go and trust that our students are able to manage the simple procedures of setting up passwords for themselves. It is is up to us to let them know that these “messy bits”, these chaotic moments are normal, that we are comfortable with these “messy bits” and that after them we are able resume normal service.
In fact these messy bits have been times in my lessons where I have been able to identify students who are able to manage their devices more expertly than others and they often become my go to people, who help their classmates rather than it being about the all knowing teacher. This builds great relationships between the students and a more mature and trusting teaching environment with even the younger and most skittish of learners. It also frees up time for me to get the next stage of the lesson ready to roll out and therefore ensures a better flow to the lesson when normal services are resumed.
Sometimes there has to be a mess made before any learning is done!