Choose to say no.


This week’s blog post is brought to you by the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship.

In examining my progress through my major project (which I explain here), I think the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship help me frame how I see my apps.

All three of my apps relate to the third element: digital communication.


The first app in regards to my professional use of communication is Google Classroom. I don’t know how I could teach without it now. It’d reduced my paper consumption by around 75% and increased the number of assignments I receive from students. There’s no excuses for losing paper and they can turn their assignment in from wherever they are.

The problem I have is that Google Classroom is also on my phone. I receive notifications whenever I post an assignment or a student turns an assignment in late. This means my phone goes off at a fairly regular basis the day after an essay is due. I’ll go into more detail about digital interruptions later in my post.


The second app for today is Remind:an app I’ve used for years. I really have enjoyed watching it evolve from a little start-up to the ubiquitous educational company they are now. When I first used Remind, I had to get an invitation because it had just come out of beta testing. It was also a challenge to convince my students to get on board. They were a little leery of texting with their teachers. We had to do a few trial runs before they believed that no, it’s not my phone number. No, I don’t see their phone number. No, they can’t reply (remember, this was at the very beginning!).

But get on board they did.

And I’ve used it every semester since.

I’ve been slowly adopting their “new” features, like replying, over the years. I tried out the reply just this year and I have really enjoyed how it has increased interaction between my students and myself. I’ve sent out reminders to my students and they can respond quickly if they have a question:


Although, this kind of instant communication can mean that students view me as being available for them 24/7. It’s a continual learning process in drawing firm boundaries between teacher-me and non-teacher-me.


This bleeds into another of the nine categories: Digital Health and Wellness. Being able to remove myself from social media and electronic forms of communication increase my personal sense of wellness. I even made a New Year’s resolution to stop using Facebook and Instagram (though I don’ t have any social media proof of it. It’s funny how something like this seems untrue unless I can prove it through a social media trail. Kind of a paradox: I want to avoid using social media but need to prove through social media that I’ve done it.)


I think this is where I agree with the critique of Dr Paul Gordon Brown (and Krisanne’s awesome video) in that I want a separate identity from the one I have online, mostly because the online identity I cultivate is me as a teacher. Being a teacher isn’t my whole self. It’s a portion of myself and it’s the self I choose to share online. I can understand Dr Brown’s argument, but I don’t agree with it.

The one thread I’ve noticed in my apps is the ability to have constant access to them, but it comes at a cost. I think the cost could be the elimination of the barrier between personal and professional and I think that could harm a teacher’s well being in the long run. Teaching is such an emotional job in itself that stepping away is necessary otherwise a teacher risks burning out.

These are all aspects of digital communication I will be examining in my final project (which is coming up faster than I thought!)

Do you have any experience stepping away – or not being able to step away – from apps you use in the classroom?


6 thoughts on “Choose to say no.

  1. 75% less waste? That’s incredible, Kelsie! I wanted to comment on your articulation of teacher burnout in relation to apps. While I do agree that technology has certainly made our lives as teachers easier, I would definitely echo this idea in that, as professionals, we are now “on” 24/7. We have tried so hard to be accessible to students, parents, and staff (which is a great thing, especially in terms of building relationship) but in terms of teacher workload, I think that part of the reason teachers are feeling so overwhelmed is linked directly to technology. Technology change so rapidly that those individuals who want to be “up to speed” with all of the new tech trends in their classrooms have a harder job than ever before.
    While I would definitely applaud the integration of technology and the advancements that it has allowed in classrooms, I would also say that ten years from now, the stress of teachers regarding technology will likely be far less as many teachers are just slowly moving into being more active digital citizens.
    That’s what I’m here for, anyways! Great post, and I look forward to reading more about your final project.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s incredible how much I HAVEN’T printed off this year: no syllabuses, short stories, assignments… It’s awesome.
      I really hope that your vision for the future comes true! It would be really amazing if teacher stress will one day decrease

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the less waste of Google classroom in learning that myself this year. I haven’t used remind myself as a teacher but I wonder if it would work well for a way to communicate with both my LRT students and parents without them having my phone number. I have to say I also struggle with the time to switch from teacher time to personal time. I haven’t used it but is there a way on remind to turn off notifications at a certain time? You can give your students “office hours”. I myself check my emails one last time before I leave work and in the morning. I also check it Sunday night to catch up before school but I give myself evenings and Saturday off. I’ve had some parents email about projects or tests and I usually just start my email on Sunday with an apology that I don’t check my email on saturdays. I struggle with turning off communication since sometimes it’s such a quick answer but I also need to spend quality time with my own family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Remind does have office hours that you can set from their website. It doesn’t turn off the notifications, though. I could always just delete the apps from my phone 😉
      And on my syllabus (that I didn’t even print out this year!) I state that I don’t answer emails past 5PM or on weekends. I try and keep what I would consider “business hours” and think about whether or not I could phone my dentist or doctor and expect an answer and apply that to my job.


  3. Thanks for your post Kelsie. I feel that overwhelming feeling each time I look down at my phone these days. Between being connected to iMessage, Facebook messenger, twitter, snap chat, and all of the other apps in between, I cannot keep up. Today, my phone had over 40 messages, notifications, and God knows what else popping up on my phone, all over an hour’s lunch. When I finally picked up my phone again, I was so overwhelmed. I put it back down and left it. Technology is supposed to make things faster, but I definitely feel the effects of how it slows me down day to day as well. Today was just one of those days I suppose! Looking forward to seeing what you find out about the Apps you’ve outlined!


  4. I like the little example of communication on Remind that you shared. It’s these little transactions – this ability to seek clarity from a teacher in this case – that really make the difference for many students. I know many students who’ve expressed that they are much less likely to approach a student f2f vs. over Remind for a number of reasons. It’s great to see that you have taken this, and other tools up, and have begun to use them effectively! Well done!


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