The dangers of knowing too much …

This drama teacher reflects on her school’s recent implementation of SAMS software (student activity monitoring software). This shows staff what students are doing on their laptops during class-time – data that is usually sold to teachers as offering  interesting insights into student engagement. For this teacher, however, the results were experienced as rather more dis-spiriting. 

Sometimes it is perhaps better not to know … even if the data are available:

I was surprised when I first started using it because I thought that kids were not stupid …. I didn’t think kids were on YouTube and things as much as they probably do.  Occasionally you walk past and during the footy season catch kids looking at the footy scores but I didn’t think with some kids it was such a permanent thing. 

The first time I used it I think I looked at it and we’d done a double period and I set them to work – the first part of the class was doing something simple, and then the second part of the class was really full on – okay now you’re well into the task that you’re doing.  

One kid for almost the full first period had been sitting on some Manga website.  I was like ‘what?’  I was really disappointed because I thought I had more of an idea … like, I can usually read faces.  I always say to the kids, “I always know when you’re on YouTube because your eyes light up and you get this little smirk on your face.”

So, I was really disappointed [when I saw the data]. Because being a drama teacher, I feel like often I try and engage the kids and I often get them really engaged. And I was disappointed, because I thought that was a really good class … but that kid was sat and zoned-out for the whole time we were doing the activity.

[Brookdale teacher – interview 08_11_21]