Is this rude?


Photo by Jason Wun

I’m not talking about what I do with it. Just the device itself.

Is it rude?

I realize that people can use it in rude ways, but does that make the thing itself rude?

I ask this question because after sharing my experience that my previous post describes with some colleagues, the reaction I got was something like “Oh, well … I mean, that’s unfortunate, but it was a cell phone.”

And when I ask, “So if it had been a lap top, or my iPad, or a piece of paper, would it have been rude?” the response is “No, I don’t think that would be considered rude.”

So what is it about the cell phone that immediately makes some people automatically attach labels like “rude” “unprofessional” and “off-task”?

I think this is a case of residual anachronistic perceptions about what cell phones are used for, and at the risk of sounding ageist, I think it’s (sometimes) generational. I’m not sure when the last time was I actually used my iPhone as a phone–actually yes I do. I used it to do a Facetime call with my friend who lives in Alberta. The rest of the time I use my phone to text, send email, blog, enter information into my calendar, listen to music, search the web, and jot down ideas.

I suspect that those colleagues who winced when I said “cell phone” are the same people who, if they own a cell phone, only use it as a phone, and therefore have a hard time understanding how it can be used for learning purposes. And this is not an ageist thing, now that I think about it because I have a colleague who is younger than I am and she also winces a bit when I talk about cell phones in the classroom.

My friend Royan ominously commented on my previous post that:

Seriously though, I think your little experience has touched on a growing divide in our systems. I think there’s something of a quiet civil war occurring.

A quiet civil war? Yikes! I’d hate to think that’s really happening. Don’t we have more important things to worry about than the devices students (or teachers) use for learning? Shouldn’t we be worried about the learning itself?

How to Shut Down a Learner: Intention and Perception in Classroom Management

I had a pretty earth shattering learning experience today that I feel the need to reflect on it in the hope that this profoundly negative experience can have a positive outcome.

I was at a PD session today, and in the interest of respecting the privacy of the people involved, I won’t mention names or specific details. As the presenter opened the session and discussed “housekeeping” issues, she mentioned the process for supply coverage. Being a naturally disorganized person, I’ve learned that the best way to deal with new information is to act on it. So I pull out my iPhone and jot down a quick email to my secretary (because that makes her job easier and I respect her professionalism).

And then there’s silence. Crickets may have chirped. But I thought, nah… she’s not seriously doing the disapproving teacher silent treatment. Then it got awkward and I looked up and yep, that’s exactly what she was doing. And so, silly rational girl that I am, I quietly and politely explained what I was doing, to which she replied, “Your secretary can wait until tomorrow.”

So I stared for a moment, baffled and humiliated while all my peers watched and waited, and I said, “Okay…” and put my phone away mid-email.

So here’s what I learned:

I can not and should not assume that all PD facilitators are comfortable with the ways in which adult learners (and frankly… any learners) use technology. Some people still perceive technology use by participants as disrespect. They may be wrong, but I still need to remember that my colleagues in real life are not the same as my colleagues on Twitter.

But more importantly, I learned first hand how students feel when a teacher decides to “make an example” out of a student. You want a sure fire way to incite antagonism, conflict, anxiety, anger, and humiliation? Mission accomplished. Not only did I feel demeaned and misunderstood, I lost face in front of my peers. I could feel the gaze of 40+ pairs of eyes boring into the back of my head as they wondered, “Who is THAT loser?”

Did I ever tune out and shut down. She lost me for the rest of the day. I gained some useful information in the afternoon after I could vent to some friends, and I did have a fairly unproductive conversation with the presenter at break. She seemed to be under the impression that we were in cahoots and she thanked me for letting her make her point about cell phone use. I tried to politely but firmly explain how she made me feel and that in the future she might want to consider that adult learners (just like student learners) have different learning styles, and just as some people need to take a moment to jot down information in an agenda or on a sticky note, others might use technology. That didn’t seem to have much impact. She thanked me again and reiterated her respect for me, which left me angry and even more demeaned.

So, students, do I ever get how you feel when a teacher decides to make an example out of you and I SWEAR to never do it again. I’d like to think I don’t do this very often but once is too much.

This really isn’t about technology; it’s about how a teacher can effect the climate of a classroom and a students’ willingness to take risks and participate. If you want quiet, demure, compliant students (who are seething with rage and resentment) go ahead. Humiliate them. Make examples of them. Center them out. But I don’t think that’s what you want. It’s sure not what I want.

And once the awkwardness and humiliation has faded, DON’T bring it up again just before you depart for the day, thanking the clearly unwilling and humiliated learner for allowing you to make that point you felt you needed to make, and then wait for acknowledgment from the defeated and raging learner while the entire “class” fidgets awkwardly or gawks at the learner. That’s just cruel, and rubs salt in the wound.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

I made the paper!

When Jennifer O’Brien of the London Free Press wanted to write an article on the proposed cellphone ban repeal in the London District Catholic School Board she asked for a teacher’s perspective. Since we follow each other on Twitter, she asked for my input.

I hesitated a moment before replying because I know that some teachers (and some colleagues whom I very much respect) have some pretty strong anti-cellphone feelings and I wondered about expressing my somewhat controversial opinion so publicly. Then I remembered Rodd Lucier’s tweet from this month’s RCAC conference where he observed:

So I decided, to heck with it. And here’s the article:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thoughts on the Innovation Lag in Education

It’s Labour Day weekend. I’m sitting in my living room wearing a big sweater and getting a bit high off the scent of vanilla and cinnamon from the apple crisp I’m baking. It was 32 degrees two days ago but fall is here now. I know this because I bought a pumpkin spice latte this morning.

Anyway, now that I’ve set the scene, I’ll get to the point. I had my first “back to school” day on Thursday. No kids, but we had a full day of PD involving a scintillating recorded powerpoint presentation (complete with bullets, narrated slides, and improper apostrophes) on CAS reporting practices, memos mandating ugly shoes, reminders about field trip paperwork, and… discussions about cell phones and assessment practices. And this is when I realized that I don’t actually work with the teachers that I talk to on Twitter.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have awesome, dedicated, professional colleagues. But sometimes I forget that we don’t always have the same concerns, philosophies, and passions. Sometimes I get caught up in a passionate discussion about assessment policies (yes, I know. I’m a geek) and the person I’m talking to is smiling and nodding and then slowly I see her face glaze over and I realize I may have gone too far. I also have to remember that just because I’m passionate about something doesn’t mean I’m right. I think I’m right, but I could be wrong, and even if I’m not wrong, that doesn’t mean that I won’t learn something by listening (with an open mind) to someone who doesn’t share my beliefs.

Even when they say cell phones need to be banned.

Even when they say technology is distracting and unnecessary.

Even when they say if we have to deduct late marks to prepare students for university.

All that being said, I’m looking forward to an exciting year. I get to go see Damian Cooper in November, I’m presenting at two conferences, I’m starting my master’s, and apparently I’m helping to coach cross country. I’m not really sure how that last one happened.

The only downside I see is this ridiculous health and safety policy banning pretty much every pair of shoes I own. I don’t understand how standing in front of a class of 17 year-olds and walking down the hallway suddenly became activities that require rubber-soled steel-toed shoes. I’m usually a very rule-abiding person. That may have to change.

Doing more with less

Rumor has it that due to decreased student enrollment in our board, there won’t be any money for computers for our schools next year. My first reaction is a new (and therefore outrageously passionate) technophile, was shock and horror. How on earth can we prepare students for 21st century without the technology resources?

Then I realized, maybe this could be an opportunity. Maybe this will be the push teachers and administrators need to stop trying to ban cell phones and mp3 players and see them for the potential learning tools they are. Maybe we can’t afford a class set of clickers, but most of our kids have cell phones they can use in conjunction with something like Can’t afford a class set of digital cameras? Most of your kids already have them.

Thanks to Mike for his thoughts below:

Necessity is the mother of invention. Right?