The summer heat seems to have broken just in time for the new school year. Students have their new backpacks and shoes and their parents are eager to get them back in the classroom. Depending on your school, you may already be a week into teaching or the first day may be just around the corner. Either way, you’ve already been hard at work, preparing for another busy, exciting, exhausting, but ultimately rewarding year.
From the outside, it’s hard to appreciate all the work that goes into making school run smoothly and effectively. There’s new technology every year and a teacher’s job, requiring many different hats already, has now incorporated the role of Computer Programmer, Electrical Engineer, and Database Manager. While you’re dealing with all the logistics of modern classroom instruction, you also have just a few days to establish strong relationships with students. We want to make sure you can focus on teaching your students, not troubleshooting technology issues.
The first three days of the school year are very important to getting to know each other, establishing authority, and creating a classroom dynamic conducive to education. Significant 72, is an initiative implemented in over 200 schools in the US and Canada. It is based on ideas from the book, “Visible Learning” by Dr. John Hattie, an education researcher from New Zealand. The Significant 72 program’s motto is “Connections Before Curriculum.” During those first three days, teachers set aside time dedicated to learning facts about each child and to help each child learn about their teacher. Teachers also help students to begin recognizing similarities with each other and to get to know their classmates on a personal level. Of course, this process isn’t complete after just 72 hours, but it’s important to start the process from day one and then continue throughout the year.
We believe the Significant 72 has a lot of merit in improving the cohesion of each classroom instruction and developing strong rapport between students and teachers, inclusive of the norms around using technology. That’s why we created two checklists of classroom technology tasks that can get the ball rolling in the right direction right off the bat, to alleviate a lot of headaches and save significant time over your school-year. Let’s look at the lists!
Pre-72! Technology Roll Call
The first step of our process is to make sure you have all the technology accounted for and present in either your room or the designated computer space. You can’t use it if you don’t have it! Before the students have walked in, your teachers should be able to check every box that applies:
- Able to launch all teaching software and shared directories
- Power cable located at or near teaching station
- Shortcuts set up for quick entry into key resources
Student Computers & Devices
- All are functioning
- All accounted for, labeled, and organized
- Logins have been created, tested and go to correct landing pages
- Shortcuts or apps are available for quick entry into key resources
- Image is clear and focused
- All connectors, pens, etc. are available for board interactivity; calibration has been done
- Remote is functioning and you have a spare set of batteries
- Document camera has been tested, is stationed in a location with proper lighting
- Phones are live and test call has been made
- Intercom has been tested in both directions
- Panic system instructions are clear and a test has been done or is scheduled
- Guardian and/or student mass messaging system is set up
- Speakers are set to optimal loudness
- No static occurs when you are wearing microphone and circling the room
- Audio plays clearly to all parts of room from teacher station devices
Student Information System
- Login tested
- Proper students and classes loaded
- Training complete for taking attendance, entering grades, and any other district-specific daily responsibilities
IT Procedure Training
- Clear understanding of how to request IT support
- Documented process for checking out shared technology resources
While this list may shrink or grow depending on how your district uses tech, with these boxes checked, you can likely rest easy that a technology issue won’t creep up and derail your first 72 hours of instruction.
The 72: Practice Makes Perfect
Once you’re sure everything is in place and are confident in your ability to access technology when you need it, you can move on to testing and practicing your various systems and applications with your students.
Teaching kids how to use technology is important to their development and safety. Read through your school’s technology policy and get comfortable with the information so that you can pass it on effectively to your students via your classroom procedures and assignments. It is important that early on, students build habits around the healthy behaviors you’d like to see with technology, instead of spending precious time and energy re-norming. Examples of activities and topics to address immediately with your students include:
- Demonstrating proper seating for device use and proper placement of device
- Getting and returning devices from charging stations or carts
- Being gentle with screens, mice, and keyboards
- Reporting cosmetic or functional issues
- Reviewing the school’s technology policy
- Practicing an “eyes-on-me” queue
- Discussing examples of proper and improper device handling
- Discussing examples of proper and improper online behavior
- Setting expectations for BYOD and/or district technology use away from school
- Sharing acceptable ways to communicate with you outside of class-time
- Sharing clearly what systems will be used and for what purpose
- Testing logging in and logging out of relevant apps
We kept the list short, because we know the first 72 is already chalk-full of material, but don’t put your technology norms on the back burner!
Get Started Today
The beginning of a school year is both exciting and stressful. Much of the focus falls on lesson planning, but don’t forget about the technology-enabled procedures and processes that could either distract you from teaching or enhance it. Whether you’re a teacher or an administrator, going through our checklist will help you be better prepared for the months ahead.
If you have any questions about this checklist or want to improve the efficiency with which you use technology in your classroom or school, give us a call! We’ve helped many educators throughout southeast Michigan make the most of their EdTech resources to improve the education experience for everyone involved.