Back to School

Week 1 of any new term seems to take some students quite by surprise and they take the week to settle back into routine, while for others, its ‘get up and go’. Working as a Teacher Aide to students with a variety of disabilities, I find there is a definite mix of attitudes, to coming back to school.

I provide support to eight students in Grade 10, in subjects, English, Science and a Student Leadership Program, six Grade Eight students in English and a further eight in Mathematics. The students have varying disabilities including, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual and Speech Language impairments and learning difficulties. Some well below their grade level. Commencement of new topics is underway and has been met with the expected levels of individual enthusiasm.

All students at my school are now required to bring their own device (BYOD). This has presented a range of issues including:

  • families not able to afford laptops
  • students not charging devices overnight (they are not permitted to charge devices at school) and
  • students experiencing technical difficulties

As we discussed in the Week 1 tutorial, student engagement with ICT can be twofold. From the perspective of the teachers I work with and my peers, keeping students engaged with on task behaviours can be challenging. We often discover students have several windows open on their laptops or tablets, and cannot resist the temptation to flick between these or hide behind the screen (generally located at the back of the classroom) playing their latest ‘go to’ game, even after instruction has been given to close unnecessary sites.

How can this be avoided? Is it the pedagogy? Is it behaviour management? Is it lesson content that needs to be adjusted? Are the needs of the students being met? There could be a multitude of answers. With technology increasingly becoming a common tool used in classrooms, the problem of ‘disengagement’ using ICT poses complications for the quality of teaching and learning to occur.

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