Change Can Be Scary: Who Does the Connected Classroom Leave Behind and How Can We Help Them?

I am 12 or so weeks into having iPads in the classroom, and each week, new revelations occur.  An area of focus this week has been answering this question: “What type of student will thrive in the 1:1 classroom and what type of student will struggle?” The obvious follow up to that question is then “What supports can I create for the students to help them adapt and thrive.”  

Today in class I was doing an activity using Hindu god cards.  (Find more about this specific activity here).  The goal is to generate questions about the values that are represented and symbols that are present in the Hindu religion.

In the past I have provided some lecture instruction prior to the activity. This year I did not.  I am less likely to do so in general because I am growing used to the students seeking the answers themselves. I can create a lesson that generates interesting, compelling and student generated questions.

As these types of lessons become more common I find that there is one category of student is likely to get frustrated, even agitated by them: The high achieving and intelligent student used to high instruction, heavy content classes. These are good, even great students who want to do well and are eager to be told how to do so.  They are used getting the answers and learning them.  They are highly intelligent. They excel on tests and projects and will be the one with many questions about “the right way” to do things.  They are masters trained in the art of the teacher centered classroom.

And they are going to STRUGGLE when faced with the changes caused by open ended and interpretive lessons that are becoming a part of my 1:1 classroom. They wonder when I am going to lecture and start giving notes and they wonder why there aren’t more worksheets and packets for them to complete thoroughly. Very often, their parents are wondering that same thing.

I believe that very shortly they will adapt and learn how to be successful and grow more comfortable but in the interim  I will need to develop a completely different set of supports to  help them to adapt.  I will need to have a dialogue from the beginning to explain how and why the model has shifted.

In the end it comes down to the “Why” behind your classroom.  You need to know the “Why” behind your what you do and begin sharing it on day 1.  Sharing these goals and helping to develop a set of class values is key. If students know why you do what you do, they can trust you, overcome their initial discomfort, and succeed.

These graphics are what I devised to share my vision with my students. They will be on the wall in my classroom.

The Old Model: 

The New Model: 

3 thoughts on “Change Can Be Scary: Who Does the Connected Classroom Leave Behind and How Can We Help Them?

  1. Shawn- great picture of you teaching! You look like a stick! (ha). I had a moment today teaching in which I realized with 1:1 we are coaches and guides. There is hardly a need to be the “sage on the stage” in a 1:1 setting, and because of this I feel I can differentiate and tweak lessons to help my students better…I can assess my students faster and better…I can see that they are learning not just content, but 21st century skills. This change in my classroom has led to high engagement and deeper understanding demonstrated by my students. However, the best part of 1:1 is that I am getting to know my students so much better because we are all learning together.


  2. Shawn, I appreciate this post. I am so glad your students (and parents) are struggling with the model. I’ve had only one parent so far asking me to defend the changes I’ve made this year, but it forces me to articulate what I’m doing in a more effective way. Your post will help me get there!

    My favorite part of the changes (we are not 1:1, by the way – I’m just talking about the way I’ve stepped aside) is the time I’m able to devote 1:1 to the students now. When they are working more on collaboration or independent inquiry, I can really focus on one student at a time. This, I feel, is much more valuable feedback than a grade on a worksheet… Thanks again for this post – I’m using some of your words in following conversations!


  3. Terrific visuals and explanation Shawn. There is plenty of current research supporting the benefits of “struggle” as it applies to learning. We are in the midst of the biggest learning revolution that mankind has ever known – how great is it to be smack-dab in the middle of it?!?


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