Download Of The Month: Whatsapp Poster

This month’s download is another poster, this time used for classroom management.

One of the biggest problems I had when teaching groups was the constant distraction of Whatsapp messages. There’s something about the allure of a notification from messenger apps. It’s as if there is a new social rule that if you get a message, it’s almost never rude or inappropriate to stop whatever you are doing to glance down at your screen. And when you are having a lesson, something that should require concentration and work, this can be very disruptive to the students workflow.

So the message that is on this poster is something that I would ask my students. It was a very deliberate question because, in case you are wondering, I am talking about adult students here. In my experience, teenagers, who are used to being school and not allowed to use their phones, were much more focused that the grown-ups. So I was aware that occasionally, the answer to the question on the poster was “no, it’s work, I have to deal with this, sorry.” And that’s fair enough.*

But most of the time, the truth is that it can wait, and that students should be encouraged to maximise the time they have in the lesson. I’m not in favour of banning phones or anything like that because it’s completely unrealistic with adults, and it doesn’t address the central concern of why people feel the need to go for their devices at first possible moment of ‘downtime’. Instead I prefer of questioning it head on, asking the students if they think this is the best use of their limited time in lessons and what else they could be doing while they wait for other people to finish.

The poster helps with this because it gives students pause for reflection on their own behaviour, and a reminder that they could be using their valuable time to focus on the main objective – improving their English.

*Actually it’s usually not fair enough, people should be able to switch off from work when they leave. How many jobs are so important that it can’t wait until tomorrow? But that’s a question for another blog, not this one!

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