Put away that electronic device, or else!

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Today was one of those days that made me wish I worked some place else.

I work at a grade 7 and 8 middle school that is filled with wonderful teachers, counselors, administrators and support staff, many of whom will stop at nothing to help students learn. Some of them are quirky; some are funny. Some have marvelous ideas about how to make education better; some just wear a never-ending smile that always makes your day.

Sounds great, right? So why would anyone complain about a place like this?

The problem, you see, is that while these marvelous people are willing to go the extra mile for kids, many of them think the best way to do this is to control students.

As I watched students work cooperatively, independently, quietly and noisily in my results-only classroom, an e-mail landed in my inbox, quickly followed by another and several more — all on the same subject.

“This place is out of control, and it has to stop,” was the gist of the lot. The students, it seems, are listening to their Mp3 players and iPods in the hallways, and the safety of the school, perhaps even that of the entire civilized world, is at stake. (Okay, that was poetic license run amok.)

Still, a steady stream of loud complaints cascaded throughout teachers’ email, demanding a change. By the end of the day, the change was announced by our principal. If only we could get an important decision made this quickly.

As you may have guessed, my take on this was quite different. Sadly, my suggestion to teach the students appropriate use, rather than take the devices away, was met with criticism.

It makes me wonder, will we ever join the 21st century digital age? Or, do I need to look for a new place to hang my hat. . . and my iPhone.

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series, The uNseries, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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