Teaching in the Computer Lab
I’ve discovered a few things as I transitioned from teaching in a traditional junior high classroom to teaching adults. One thing is that often my junior high students were better behaved! The other thing is that when they misbehaved I could assign consequences… with adults, not so much!
Teaching in a lab setting with either adults or students requires a little bit different classroom management. You have to be on your toes much more than in the classroom because with the internet, kids can get into places they shouldn’t with just a click of the mouse. Also, especially with older students, they are continually trying to find ways to “beat the system”, such as going around the filter with a proxy server.
I thought I’d share a couple of tips I figured out as I went along. The first one is that when I need the students attention to give instructions, demo steps of a project, etc. I want them to look at me. That’s fine if I’m looking at them, but when I turn my back to point or use the computer sometimes I lose them. I discovered that having them put their hands in the their lap wasn’t enough. They’d still sneak a hand back up to move the mouse or click or something. What works for me is to have them turn the mouse upside down. Then if they turned it over when I wasn’t looking, it would make noise and I’d know someone was off-task.
Also, at the end of class we like to use the ABC of dismissal.
A= area Make sure student clean up their area and collect all their belongings
B= ball Many of our computer labs have mice with a ball inside. For some reason kids sometimes steal these. Have them turn the mouse over to check if the mouseball is still inside.
C= chair Make sure the student push in their chair. It makes the lab neater and less likely for someone to trip and fall.
For younger students I sometimes add D= Door. I check the ABC and then dismiss them individually to line up at the door.