I have been at an incredibly inspiring day of PD today – full of rich conversations with colleagues, enthusiastic and knowledgeable presenters and a carefully planned and executed series of elements to the workshop to keep learners engaged.
However I have a gripe. Just a little one but important nonetheless. And I should preface this by saying I am not having a go at the presenters – it’s an issue that comes up time and time again in similar situations. Mobile phones. The inevitable announcement came at the start of the PD requesting that we turn our mobile phones to silent. Fair enough – done. We were then asked to please refrain from keeping them out on the tables. That didn’t sit so well with me.
When are we going to stop blaming various bits of technology for a small minority’s lack of manners? Had I had my phone out (which I undoubtedly would have until I was made to feel that it was wrong), I promise that I would not have sent a single text message, made any phone calls nor randomly browsed ‘The Age’ to catch up on the daily news. (I understand that it is called a ‘phone’ but I can’t actually recall when I last used it for that purpose). What I would have done was use it to take notes, look up and add links to said notes, add suggested references to my GoodReads account, appropriately sort and file all the awesome ideas and ‘next steps’ that were triggered by the PD today, mind map what I was thinking and learning to help me make sense of it and generally use it to support my learning. And, amazingly, I also would have still been listening to and taking in what was being said. Instead, I did some of these tasks on my iPad which, lacking internet access, didn’t allow me to make all the connections that I wanted to.
I also noted that I didn’t hear today (nor ever have at other PDs) similar reminders about not using pens and paper to allow your mind to wander away from the task at hand however it is equally possible for it to occur with old technology as it is with newer tools.
As I said, small gripe but part of a much bigger discussion that we need to keep having. I know that it’s a difficult move for a teacher of small or big people to let go and trust that learning is happening, even when the learner isn’t looking at you expectantly. But ‘let go’ is exactly what we need to do and accept that we don’t all work and learn the same way – for example, some of us prefer to use tools our teachers aren’t as familiar (or comfortable) with to help consolidate and extend our understanding of the world. And it isn’t rude. Just different.