My 7th grader has had an iPad at school this year to help him organize and keep all his work in one place.

Yesterday, he came home in tears. His math teacher took away his iPad and humiliated him in front of his whole class. My son admitted he had been deleting music from iTunes so he could update his Notion app (a music notation app for music scores, not for listening to music). He knew he shouldn’t be doing this during class.

Should he have had his iPad taken away? Should he have been humiliated in front of the whole class? This is a kid who never gets in trouble. In 8 years, I’ve had two teachers say one time each to me that he was talking too much in class… that’s the extent of the trouble he’s gotten into. He’s never had another issue with the iPad in nearly 9 months of school.

The teacher emailed us that he’s not sure he can “trust [my son’s] responsible use” now.

Wow. Seriously?

This is a teacher I know has a strong dislike of technology. He feels there is no role for technology for a student. He told me once that the math games on the iPad mean kids are more interested in popping balloons or getting the sharks than learning the math…. You think? Maybe learning math facts isn’t fun for some kids and they need the added motivation to pop balloons. Or maybe they’re so sick and tired of paper timed tests that popping a balloon puts more interest into the process. I honestly think he’s been looking for an opportunity to catch my son doing something so he could take away the iPad.

We feel the punishment was a significant overreaction. Could he not have given my son a warning? Asked him to put it away? Instead he threatened to take it away for the whole day. I give my son credit for pointing out that his entire planner and all his assignments are on the iPad. My son suggested giving it up for the math class, then getting it back.

I mentioned this to two colleagues who know my son. They guffawed. Their first reaction was that the class must’ve been boring and my son (who “gets” math easily) must have known what was going on and was frustrated listening to repetitious instructions.

I’m having a difficult time sending my son back into that class.  In nearly 9 months, this is the first problem we’ve had with the iPad. I have heard from no other teachers about issues of inappropriate use. So why now? Why this? And why this much reaction?

2 thoughts on “Disrepectful

  1. There is something missing, which is the context of the teacher. It is possible that the teacher was having a tough day–possible when it was 90° by the end of the day. Kids act differently on these hot days at the end of the year. Maybe other kids in class had been pushing his technology “buttons.” If the teacher had been spending the day dealing with kids on devices, this might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    And I would want to know what “humiliating” means in this case. If it means that you catch a kid off task, and then mention that you will take away the device–that’s not humiliation. It is singling a kid out of a class, but again, if you’re off task, you run the risk of being corrected. However, if there were put-downs or belittling involved, then that might be another matter.

    Or the teacher may actually be anti-technology. In that case, the teacher will need to work around any documented individualized learn plan you have for your son and deal with it. And you may need to remind the teacher of that.

    You’re right–a warning is certainly warranted, but there may have been warnings in the past, or warnings to other students in that hour. If the teacher is chasing cell phones, kids need to be socially aware that tolerance levels drop in context. Warnings should be warnings to the entire class; not just individual students.

    At any rate, deleting apps is an involved process that requires you to prioritize what apps you value the most…and his intent was to download Notion…and he also had to be aware that there was an update (so must have been in the App Store as well)–so mentally he really was several steps off-task in math class and he probably would admit that. Notion is music–not math–and likely isn’t even used in his music class.

    Take it for what it is and reiterate to him that he is on a razor’s edge in that class when it comes to technology, and that–in that class–he should NEVER deviate from acceptable use. Don’t eat a steak in a pit full of angry tigers.

    We like to say that if teachers make content interesting, kids won’t be pulled away by technology. This is a false assumption. Their lives are more important to them–always–so texting or gaming will always outweigh making the right choice. Always. As a teacher who allows devices in an attempt to teach real world use, it becomes a losing battle. Even techie teachers end up putting in moratoriums because they literally can’t stop themselves. And if you look around at parent meetings or at concerts–neither can their parents. Or if you look at staff meetings, neither can their teachers.

    So…it sounds like an understandable overreaction by both your teacher and your son–hopefully it can be ironed out.

    • crossons says:

      Thanks for your response – I appreciate (and needed) another perspective. I was (am) really frustrated.

      First: the teacher – you are right. It could’ve been a tough day. He’s leaving after this year so may be out of patience. He is well known for strongly disliking technology, so I immediately assume he’s treating this more harshly than other behaviors.

      The school is strongly anti-device. There are very few devices the kids have, and those only because of 504s/IEPs. Cell phones are strictly forbidden. I doubt the teacher had been dealing with other tech infractions during the day. (and this is an early class in the day.)

      My context is also important. I have been working with them for two years on tech integration. I am basically ignored and treated like I don’t know anything. So, yes, my response comes from frustration there, too. If tech was the only way to value a school, my son would’ve been out of there long ago. There are many other wonderful things about the school, so I choose to swallow my (significant) frustration about tech and the way I’m treated because of the good things I see happening for my son.

      I do have to disagree with you on the humiliation aspect. NO CHILD should be humiliated in class, no matter the behavior. Corrected, yes. Humiliated, no. My son is the kind of kid that a glance from a teacher is enough to make him feel horrible. This teacher knows him well enough (has had him for three years, and this is a small school that they don’t just interact with teachers in subject classes) to know this. This situation should’ve been treated with more respect for the child. As far as I know, this is the first time (in 8 months!) that he’s been called out on being off task in class. I think that’s pretty responsible.

      He was updating Notion (I’m not sure why), and no, he shouldn’t have been doing that. At that point in class, the teacher was reviewing things. My son “gets” math, and it is painful for him to listen to review material. I understand that — I still get sick to my stomach thinking about the hours I spent in school going over content I already understood. It is painful and frustrating for kids who need to move faster with material. Don’t say he needed review — he gets the material. His mind wandered for a few minutes. If he’d been doodling on paper, that would’ve been ok. If he’d been daydreaming, that, too, would’ve gone unnoticed.

      I don’t mean to jump back at you — this is helping me process my thoughts on paper (online, in public. not good!) before I proceed.

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