Competing with a machine is a downhill battle. Instead, teachers must focus on what they do best – connecting with students. Ratherthan lamenting about students being glued to their smartphone, teachers should consider whystudents do it in the first place. You can’t solve a problem if you’re not asking the right question.
Step #1 Discover the underlying cause.
There is no doubt that smartphones have changed the way we live and learn. Which is why educators (including myself) must take a step back and reframe the smartphone problem.Student distractibility existed long before smartphones. Lack of attention is the common denominator.
We doodled. They text.
We passed notes. They facebook.
Step #2 Reexamine how you teach.
We all have an idea in our mind about how we perform at work. Yet the only way we will ever have an accurate picture of our performance is to collect data on our concrete behaviours. Click on Teacher Behaviors Inventory (TBI) to obtain a PDF of this suggested assessment tool (used in my doctoral research).
Sample items from TBI inventory –
The TBI assessment tool will help determine how you engage students, capture their attention, and sustain curiosity with instant gratification just one click away. The TBI also includes a measure of how you spark student interest and arouse curiosity in the lessons you teach. Completing the inventory will give you a baseline of your current teaching techniques. It will help identify areas of strength and challenge (potential growth).
Step #3 Model what you expect.
The next step in student engagement is to “become” what you expect from your students. Motivate students by being motivated! For example, I write motivational quotes on the blackboard each day. The goal is to model each quote I post. And encourage students to do the same.
Grab attention by being attentive to the unique needs of each student, and responsive to the distinct personality of each class. Engage students by being engaged, passionate, and excited about the topics you teach. Enthusiasm is contagious! Stimulate curiosity by being curious about how students think.
Step #4 Show students you care.
In order to move from instant gratification to meaningful interactions in school (and in life), we must show students how much we care. We must be present and mindful in our own classrooms. And in tune with each student and teaching moment.
For students need to know how much their learning matters. How much they matter. Week after week. Class after class. Students are our reason.