Classroom Management Strategies for Laptops

By Michael Hilkemeijer

Mobile learning in education has come a long way since its introduction into classrooms. Most of the schools I have taught at now have some sort of mobile technology whether it will be a laptop, iPad and now even smartphones! Student use of this technology is crucial as it is important for those in education to mimic real-world experiences and today mobile technology is becoming more common than has been even five years ago.


Laptops being the first of the mobile technologies in the classroom is still in use and depending on the preferences of the school can still encourage students to learn. Unlike desktop computers however, its mobility can create headaches for teachers if not managed effectively with strategies that help students to understand their responsibility in it use.

So here my classroom management strategies for laptops:

1. Always plan ahead and check with the school technician to see if anything was working the way it should. We all know that technology is not reliable so if something can break down, it will. Have the technician on standby even at the beginning of the lesson sometimes waiting at the door to give yourself peace of mind.

2. Room setup is also another important factor when it comes to using laptops in the classroom. Functional desks and seating arrangements that encourage student collaboration is recognised as the best practice as it not only replicates real-world experiences but also helps you manage teamwork more efficiently. Arrange desks in clusters to enable you to circulate the room better. 

3. How to stop students from drifting off onto other Internet sites is another question many teachers would like to know? One technique that you can trial is called the “Stick ‘em Up” method. This was introduced to me through one of the resources that I have (Pamela Livingston). The idea is that whenever you suspect students’ minds are wandering somewhere else they shouldn’t be simply pulled out your ‘five-fingered six-shooter’ and say ‘Stick ‘em Up!” Students would need to know that as soon as you do that must raise their hands in the air and allow you to check their screens. Be sure to check to see if they have tried to hide them as well by minimising them. Believe me I have seen it happen many times.

Another technique also introduced by Pamela Livingston was the ‘Lids down’ approach and the name is quite explanatory here. You would simply tell them to close their lids to about fist height which is too low to look at properly without having to scrunch down. In this approach, you will need to be quite vigilant as students might still try to type something.

4.  My final bit of advice is about how you would benefit when you continually structure your lessons so that they are student-centred. Through facilitating these kinds of lessons more work can be accomplished and this is because students come to expect the structure of the lesson. A good way to start would be to discuss with the whole class what they are going to do, answer any question they throw at you then send them off to do their work.

Mobile technology in the classroom such as laptops brings with it many challenges particularly if they have Internet access, emails, and possibly things that students have installed from their USBs. Classroom management in these circumstances can really test you at times. However, if you plan ahead you can meet these challenges head-on and ensure that students' ICT capability is learned alongside subject content too.



Classroom management techniques

Managing Technology in the Classroom

When integrating technology in the primary classroom, there can be a variety of ICT tools and resources that you may be using. Having successful classroom management strategies with technology can mean the difference between just how successful you will be able to help students use the technology to learn other outcomes whilst developing their ICT capability. By embedding classroom management tips for when using technology in the classroom, you can help them achieve this.


Here are today’s best classroom strategies when integrating technology in the classroom.

Have a Plan B

Having a classroom management strategy like this can go a long way when integrating technology and it involves having a non-tech option on the ready. Let’s face it, with technology there is a whole range of scenarios that can occur. A good example is when technology just gives up and doesn’t work. It is the beginning of when students can get easily distracted and are not participating in the learning process.


What do you do?


Some other effective classroom management strategies for teachers using technology in the classroom would involve:

  • Ensuring that the school technician is at hand before the class to check to see if there might be some issues that might arise. Or even asking them to be there at the start of the lesson to oversee the beginning of the lesson until they are certain that nothing is going to happen.
  • Monitoring student behaviour while using technology in the classroom. As a teacher, monitoring student work is a natural process we practice regularly. However, monitoring is important for technology for two reasons. First, it is common for students to appear to be usefully occupied with the task when in fact they are working very inefficiently and failing to exploit the full potential of the technology. The richness of the ICT resource allows students to divert from the intended task, without it being too obvious from their behaviour.
  • Monitoring the components of ICT capability of which there is more than just the ICT techniques that they use. This will not provide you with the opportunity to intervene for behaviour reasons, but also for assessment purposes as observation is the best form of assessment for technology use.



Good classroom management strategies would also mean asking yourself the following questions:

How will the technology your integrating help students grow in their learning?

If the technology is not being used for a purpose such as a tool to achieve other learning outcomes, then students can become easily distracted. You also need to ensure that you are planning for learning progression in their ICT capabilities because if ICT techniques become repetitive they become bored quickly and this can lead to behavioural issues.


How will technology help them achieve their goals?

Your aim as a primary teacher should be to ensure that they are able to reach the stage where the students’ use of technology becomes sufficiently transparent that they hardly notice its existence. They should be so focused on technology as a tool to achieve their learning goals. This is the ultimate aim of developing ICT capability.


For example, when you are writing something on a keyboard with a word processor, you probably don’t need to search the keyboard for the relevant key – you have passed that stage. However, you are using technology to achieve your goals.


It is the same for students. Determine just how technology will help them achieve their learning goals.


What is the current capability of the students in ICT?

Distractions will occur if you also provide children with software or ICT techniques that is too hard and complex for them to understand. Make sure that you have used the right level for the appropriate age-group or year level. By planning a pre-lesson assessment of their ICT capability, you can avoid this as you will have set them a practice task that you will have formatively assessed their capabilities.  Use this to plan for the learning progression and to set their ICT activities at the comfort level of the students.


Other technology classroom management tips would include:

  • Start with your classroom set up – it is important to first configure the desks so that you can see all the screens of the monitors. Depending on the school you work at this may not be easily done if the technology room is not effective. I know, I have had it occur to me and it is annoying. However, if you can rearrange if you can to make sure that this happens. A good way to start is to have the computer desks face the outer walls in a circular fashion.
  • Back this setup with established rules and procedures when using device. You can also have a system for the students to login.
  • Make digital citizenship in primary school a priority – whenever you plan to use technology in the classroom for the learning of curriculum outcomes it is your chance to teach one of the most essential 21st century skills in the classroom.



Classroom management and technology in the classroom don’t’ have to clash in the 21st century classroom anymore if you employ these management strategies in the classroom today.



classroom management strategies

Other Management Strategies for the Classroom

When classroom behaviour goes out the door, there could be a number of reasons why this might occur. If the students are using technology in the classroom and one of your goals is to develop ICT capability alongside subject specific learning activities, one of them could be that you hadn’t assessed and taken into account their current level of ICT capability. If students are using the same ICT techniques over and over again, repetitive work is major cause of disruption to lesson learning.


Embedding classroom management strategies is the next step and these need to be consistent. The following classroom management strategies are a guideline for you to implement and adapt according to the student learning needs. It is important that you review each classroom management strategy throughout the year to ensure that your students remain focused.


Here are today's best classroom management strategies to employ and embed in your teaching practices now:

Model ideal behaviour

You need to demonstrate the behaviour that you want to see as this effectively teaches students how to act. Be polite, maintain eye contact, keep phones in pockets, and let others speak uninterrupted.


Let students help establish guidelines

A popular method used in classroom management strategies is to allow the students to help you build and set the class rules. This needs to start at the beginning of the year or each semester by having a discussion by asking them what they believe should and shouldn’t be occurring in lessons.


Document rules

Once these rules have been established it is best not to let these go forgotten. Write them up and pin it on the wall somewhere for all students to see as they walk into the classroom each day.


Avoid punishing the class

Remembering back to when I first started teaching it was a common mistake I made and it is easy to do when you think the whole class is not cooperating. You need to address each individual behaviour instead of punishing the whole class and avoid putting your classroom management strategies into jeopardy.


Encourage Initiative

Promoting growth mindset is important and it needs to be injected into your lessons when you can by allowing students to work ahead and deliver short presentations.


Offer Praise

Make sure that you praise the work your students are doing well as this improves academic and behavioural performance. Inspire the class with it and boost the self-esteem of students.


Non-verbal communication

In additional to verbal praise, use actions as well as visual aids to improve content delivery. This will help keep them focus on the outcomes they need to achieve for the lesson.


Understanding strategies for behaviour management in the classroom is significant in your ability to ensure that all students learn from the curriculum without disturbance and interruption. Review these classroom management strategies to ensure that you will keep on top of potential issues that may arise.