The bell rings and every kid is already in their seat pencils out laptops open and logged in. Every kid has completed every problem of the previous nights homework which will be graded and recorded but does not count at all toward their final grade. Students check their work with the solution document I posted to the web site. As soon as I speak everyone is quiet and listening. I throw a challenge problem out to the class and everyone begins working on it, discussing it with their peers with pencils moving at a hearty pace. They can check their work against the posted solution. I have a two page document (that I just received in an email) I want them to have to use as a reference. Instead of printing it and scanning it, I upload the pdf to the class website while I'm taking attendance and tell them to view it after they have handed in their homework. I then post a question on the site's forum and ask them to respond. My screen is projected for the class to see and within minutes each student can see each other's thoughts without speaking.
Running out of time, I copied answers from an old key and posted these as HW solutions before checking the work myself. The only questions from students regarding the HW assignment were in reference to errors on the old answer key. A learning moment for all of us.
I notice that one student hasn't commented. I look over and see him struggling to log on. He raises his hand and quietly asks if he can go to the "Mac Store." I say yes and he returns 5 minutes later with his lap top fixed, logs in and joins the rest of us. It is 15 minutes into class. I say "Lap tops down" and the kids close their screens and I begin a lecture and discussion on the next lesson.
I haven't heard one student throw an F-bomb anywhere yet. I've not heard, "Mister do you have a pencil?" It is the second week of school and nobody has been absent in any of my 5 classes.
Some teachers here new to the school from the states have been describing the teaching situation they left in the states. Overcrowded classrooms, inattentive students, weak administration, lack of support, low pay, etc. Of course we are not comparing apples to apples here. The parents of the students at this school pay a very hearty sum in tuition. Their is a massive application process and a waiting list. The school serves a majority Asian community (not nec. Chinese) with a cultural bias toward hard work in education.
Compare that to the typical public school in the states that serves every kid that walks in the door. Some have very supportive parents some have no parents. Many come from a culture rich with education, many don't.