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LanSchool Air enables Washington Elementary faculty to stop spending time managing students’ online behavior and start teaching again

Challenge: Teachers struggling to keep students focused with devices in the classroom

When Washington Elementary, based in Waterbury, Connecticut, began introducing computers into its classrooms, teachers found themselves with a host of new challenges to deal with.

“The drama that came from computer use alone during academic learning time — it was out of control,” Mallory Brito, Washington Elementary grade 2-5 Language Arts teacher, said. “We needed something to help teachers refocus from managing computer time back to learning and teaching.”

For many Washington students, classroom computers are the only accessible digital devices. That meant they were maximizing their opportunity to use devices while in class, often engaging in off-topic Internet exploration. They were also good at circumventing the school’s security measures.

“Students were finding YouTube settings we didn’t know existed to get around our security. They were using incognito windows, hiding tabs, downloading Chrome extensions, and sometimes introducing viruses,” Brito said.

All of these challenges got worse when a substitute teacher was left in charge.

Moreover, the school was having trouble realizing the benefits of digital device usage, including student self-directed learning. Brito knew if the school wanted to enable self-directed learning and get a handle on student device usage, they would need to leverage classroom management software.

But implementing classroom management software came with its own set of challenges. She needed it to be easy enough to implement that her school district would agree to help. And she also needed it to be user-friendly enough that even her less-tech-savvy colleagues could easily learn and use it.

Solution: LanSchool Air makes management easier for teachers and admins alike

Brito’s former colleague in Florida recommended LanSchool, saying it had helped her regain control of her classroom and “flip the classroom” to enable self-directed learning. Working with LanSchool enabled that teacher to launch three software programs built for self-directed learning and give students individual guidance as they completed their lessons, without having to worry that the other students would get off task.

When Brito learned about the suite of features LanSchool offered, she was eager to get started. Weighing the different delivery models offered by LanSchool and LanSchool Air, she soon decided software-as-a-service LanSchool Air would be the better choice for her school, as it would require less overhead and ongoing management from the school district. LanSchool Air is cloud-based, and hosting, security, and feature updates are all handled by the software’s providers.

Once Brito connected with her district’s Google Administrator to get access to a LanSchool Air trial, she was on her way.

Brito’s principal loved the idea of incorporating the software into the school’s classrooms, and other Washington Elementary teachers were interested in participating in the trial.

Seeing the opportunities ahead of them, the school administrator submitted — and qualified for — a technology grant that enabled Washington Elementary to provide 1:1 Chromebooks to its students. Suddenly, LanSchool Air became more necessary than ever.

“The LanSchool Air team was super helpful in guiding the entire process as we were updating our infrastructure,” Brito said. “I felt so taken care of. I felt so often that I was being a squeaky wheel or a thorn in the behind, but Lee and her team never made me feel that way. They called to check on me, and it validated the effort I was putting forth.”

Results: LanSchool Air transforms Washington Elementary classes by enabling productive online learning

Brito’s efforts paid off rapidly. After launching a 60-day trial of LanSchool Air with 10 teachers, Washington Elementary immediately saw the benefits of the software.

On day one, Brito showed each of her classes her LanSchool Air management dashboard so students could see how she would be monitoring their success and interacting with them on their digital devices going forward.

I made it clear that this was an environment where we were all responsible for each other’s success. We would take a group approach to how we were going to be responsible,” she said. “I didn’t want to frame it as me watching them, although that’s how some teachers have chosen to use it, and that may work for them. For us, it was about transparency and teamwork.”

Since then, Brito said, students have simply adjusted their behavior to meet that expectation.

“I don’t even have to send a reminder to any of my students about sites they should or shouldn’t be on. They don’t even bother trying,” Brito said. “Responsible device use is in the air, in the environment — it’s part of the culture now.”

One of the earliest benefits Brito and other teachers noticed was how approachable the software was, even for teachers who were less comfortable with technology.

“So many things you want to do on LanSchool Air just take one or two clicks of a button. The user interface is very old-fashioned-teacher friendly,” she said.

One of Brito’s favorite classroom management features quickly became the “Web Limiting” ability.

“Web Limiting is hugely important, because the first thing our students want to do is look up a video their friend was talking about or activate a chat on Google Chat. With LanSchool Air, we can block all of that,” Brito explained.

She also appreciates the Monitoring and Push Website features, particularly because online exploration plays an important role in English Language Arts. Because of these features, Brito can give her students the freedom to conduct research without having to worry they’ll engage in off-topic work.

Moreover, she has made innovative use of the Chat feature to help stay connected with students even when a substitute teacher is in charge.

“I was absent one day because I had a sick kid, but I was able to sit at home in my bathrobe with a cup of coffee chatting with my students and watching them complete an assignment I created on Google Classrooms,” Brito said. “It also helped the substitute teacher because I was able to answer a few questions she couldn’t. I even spotted a video error popping up and was able to message my students the correct link, so class could go on uninterrupted.”

This gave her confidence that productive learning would continue even when she wasn’t able to be present.

“Next Tuesday, we won’t have a sub, so my students will be split up into different classrooms,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where they are; I can still see them on one screen from wherever I am.”

Continuing Success: Washington Elementary faculty gets to focus on teaching, not just managing student behavior

Since completing the trial period and becoming a full LanSchool Air subscriber, Brito has become a strong advocate for using the product in other schools facing the challenges of digital device management.

“LanSchool Air is really transformative. You get to be a teacher again,” she said. As Brito’s classes approach their computer-centric testing period, she feels confident she’ll have the student attention and focus she needs to talk about test taking and learning in an effective way.

“LanSchool has improved my overall environment,” she said. “It’s more positive and efficient.”

The other 10 Washington Elementary teachers who participated in the trial are also big fans of LanSchool Air, according to Brito.

“They feel the same way I do. The focus has shifted from constantly circling through the classroom to check screens. It’s gone from management to instruction,” she said. “No one wants to manage all day. We want to teach; that’s our job.”

She noted that, all too often, teachers are scared to use tech in the classroom because the management piece is so intimidating. They feel a loss of control with 1:1 programs, so they don’t incorporate devices into their lessons very often, if at all.

“This software empowers teachers to explore bringing technology into classrooms in a way that is monitored, responsible, and allows a healthy balance for instruction and integration of tech without having to do a whole behavior management thing,” she said. “It takes the fear away for teachers who are scared of technology, and it’s liberating for teachers who aren’t scared of tech. Everyone is able to focus on what they want to focus on as a teacher.”

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