Cell phone policy?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Pi-R-Squared, Jul 21, 2017.

  1. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Jul 21, 2017

    I'm sure the topic has been discussed many times but I'd still like to know everyone's policy. A little background story concerning me last year.

    I did not have any kind of cell phone policy in my classroom last year. In my 3 years prior, I was at a middle school where cell phones were not allowed. There was no hesitation. If I heard it, saw it, whatever, it was mine and was sent to the office. Last year, I did not collect any cell phones (table / shoe rack method) at the beginning because I did not realize how students having cell phones would be difficult to police and control. The innocent, "May I use my cell phone as a calculator?" question turned into texting, Facebook, etc...... And the final nail was when someone took out his phone to check the time, I walked over and eventually got it, just to have it taken out of my desk. And yes, everything stated above was my fault because I did not enforce the "use cellphones only for calculator" rule.

    This year, I will collect cellphones on the first day by meeting everyone at the door and telling them to silence and then put their cellphone at the back table. There will be numbers assigned per student. Even though the district handbook says they may use cell phones as calculators, I will be supplying students with a classroom set (they're at the front of the room).

    I don't like the "cellphones remain in your bag" idea. It's too tempting for anyone to grab sneak peak when a text is received.

    Who here has a cellphone collection policy and does it work?
     
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  3. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    If students use their phone inappropriately in class it gets sent to the office where they can only collect it at the end of the day, so they lose their phones for the entire day. That's pretty effective for us; no one wants that to happen. But you have to good with enforcing this, otherwise, like with any other rule or policy, it won't be effective if there's no consistent follow through.
     
  4. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    That's why I wanna collect them all before the bell so that I'm not out there policing whether a cell phone is being used appropriately. Since a calculator is really the only reason why a student would access a cellphone in math class, I just give them access to calculators.
     
  5. christie

    christie Rookie

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    Going against district policy may well land you in trouble you don't want or need. I think collecting phones at a back table is begging for someone to pick one up and slip it into their pocket and then you're on the hook for theft.

    I've found that when I go into a situation where students know I trust them - until they prove otherwise - most students will toe the line. When I set it up that it's clear the assumption is that they will break the rules - I usually get what I expect.

    As long as they are using it for its intended purpose, let them. The first time (and it really has to be the first and EVERY time) you see them using it for something else, you walk over with a calculator and take the phone. You don't make a big deal about it, you just do it. You don't warn them over and over. You simply enact your policy. You don't argue, you stand firm. If they refuse to hand over the phone or cause an issue over the phone, then you implement whatever policy you have for disrespect or insubordination.
     
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  6. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    Phones are never used as calculators in my class. If I spot a phone, I walk up to the student and ask them to turn it off. They usually press the side button that makes the screen dark, and then I say, "No, all the way off, please.", and continue to stand there until they completely shut the phone down. Almost all phones make noise when powering up, so this is reasonably effective. So far, they have always complied, often with eye-rolling or a big sigh, but they don't put up a real fuss. If a student refused, I'd let them know security was going to get involved and they'd probably lose their phone for at least the rest of the day. Most students find this policy reasonable and will even tell someone to just turn it off since they can turn it back on as soon as they leave my class, which I agree with. In the past I have taken phones, just for the rest of my class period, but I really don't want that responsibility, so I switched to this other approach.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I've been trying to figure out a new system with the cell phones, but after some debate with myself (and actually getting some input from my 19 year old daughter) I decided that I had a pretty good system last year, I just have to be consistent 100 % of the time.

    My system was this:
    policy:
    - cell phones / headphones are not allowed in general.
    - on occasion (for the whole class time or sometimes for minutes for independent work) I allow phones, and it is clearly communicated. Also phones are only used for music with headphones, no social media, texting, video games, videos, etc.

    Consequences:
    - if I see a phone used, I will ask for it, and keep it for the class' time.
    - if refused to give it to me then sent to office where they keep it for the whole day.
    - if this was a habitual incident, I require the phone handed to me in the beginning of the class for 3-5 days.
    This actually worked well, because the kids saw that when I took their phone, I didn't look through it (I guess they have major trust issues), just kept it in my drawer, no more lecturing about it and gave it back at the end. So most of them didn't fight me. There were only a few who resisted, and then their phones were taken for the day and I think they felt pretty dumb about it.

    Problems I had:
    - it was always a few of the same kids in each class, throughout almost the whole year, who would have on their headphones while I talked - this really made me mad, because I just cannot imagine having music blasting n my ears while someone is talking to me. I voiced my frustration all the time and I think some knuckleheads did it on purpose.
    - same kids always trying to be on their phone, not being sneaky about it, but having out it in the open.
    - I got tired of still addressing the class about the phones in October, in March, even in May.

    All in all, not too bad though.

    Here's the problem for next year:
    This past year sending a kid to the office meant the kid stepped out of my classroom and the front counter (the office) was right there, because my door was always open, they already knew that they were to take the phone away.
    This year we're going back to my old school, which is an outdoor campus with portables. Going to the office means the kid walks across our small campus (it only takes a minute or so) and then comes back, but I don't have time to watch to make sure he makes it to the office and if he came back, etc. He can easily sit down on a bench outside if he's forgotten. So I want to avoid the office, which is a good idea anyways.

    What I don't want to do:
    - I don't want to be responsible for the class' phone. A phone could get taken, a kid could even take his own, pass it on to someone and then accuse me that someone stole it and now I have to pay for a $600 iPhone. I don't think so.
    - I don't want to punish everyone just because there would be 5 kids in each class who wouldn't listen
    - I don't want to take up10 minutes in the beginning and 5 minutes at the end of the class to collect and pass out phones.

    So the only thing I can come up with is keep the same system but be more strict with the consequences. If a kid keeps having his phone out, I need to make a phone call home, have a meeting with the parent, or really put that weekly restriction on the kid's phone and enforce it I didn't do these enough last year.

    If anyone has any other ideas, I am very open to suggestions :)
     
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  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I work in a school with a no cell phone policy, so if I see it, or hear that it is in the building, all I have to do is contact a safety, who then confiscates them. And I mean "them" since many have one or two decoys plus the primary phone. When I worked in a school that totally allowed cell phones as IT devices, my rule was no headphones. That kept the distractible behaviors at bay. Games have sound, so headphones are the first clue that the phone is not being used as it is supposed to. Cell phones also had to remain on their desk in plain view at all times. The office would come and retrieve the phone and owner if the behavior deviated.

    I like mathteachertobe's approach. If they don't need it for the work, they don't need it on.
     
  9. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    This is not a problem now that I'm in intermediate elementary, but when I worked in a middle school, our policy was pretty similar to what Linguist described above. The only difference was that instead of sending the student to the office, we buzzed the office and an administrator came and got the phone. (The threat of that happening was usually enough to get the student to hand over the phone to me because no administrator was ever happy about having to come and get a phone.) Whatever policy you come up with, I would NOT collect a large number of phones unless you have somewhere to lock them up. Also, like others have said, you have to follow-through 100% of the time, even if you don't feel like it.
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    The reason that a safety takes the phones, and that the office would come take student and phone was to deal with students who were eager to "upgrade" at another's expense. A couple of teachers lost a couple of very expensive phones, leaving the school liable. The change in arrangement stopped that.
     
  11. Mshope2012

    Mshope2012 Companion

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    Last year, administration stopped supporting teachers with our cell phone policy. I guess it was just too much work for them. Basically, if we took the phone, parents had to pick it up and the kid got a detention. If it happened again, it was a suspension and the school kept the phone. Also, if a kid refused to hand over a phone it was a big deal and we were supposed to call admin. Yep, did that and the Vp just laughed and gave the kid back his phone. Gee, thanks.

    Now, I just let students use them. I have no computers in my room, so they actually have to use them at times for research, dictionaries, etc. I also encourage them to bring their headphones while doing silent reading or individual work. Are the phones a distraction? Yes, at times. I will say, "Put the phones away. Eyes up here when I need them to focus." If we did have class laptops, I really feel like there would be little need for the phones, so I might do a different policy. However, our principals have made it clear that it is teacher's jobs to police the phones. They changed the wording on the policy so it reads "cell phone violations MAY result in consequences." Basically, they don't want to be bothered.
     
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  12. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    If I showed up to an event that asked me to put my cellphone on a table somewhere I'd leave. That's a sign of disrespect that I'm not willing to put up with. If you can't trust your kids to have a phone in their backpack why should they trust you in return?
     
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  13. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    This is an issue where I ride building policy all the way. In my school year position at the alternative school, kids turn the phones in at the beginning of the day and get them back at the end of the day. At the district I teach summer school, they do allow kids to have their phones, and I rely on the district policy manual to back me up.
     
  14. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Because they're children and cannot be trusted to always make adult decisions? Because it's an academic institution where they're not supposed to have the help of internet resources (or texting other friends) during the learning process unless otherwise told. So many of us teachers have caught kids cheating on their phones for various reasons (during a test, looking up a translation instead of figuring it out on their own during an in-class assignment, etc.). At that point it's reported to admin and they take it very seriously, but policing cell phones is so aggravating. They get caught doing that crap in college and they get kicked out.

    I don't take phones for various reasons, but if a kid gets caught multiple times using a phone they have to put it in their back pack and it gets moved to the back of the room.
     
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  15. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Back in 2008-2010, when I was earning my teaching degree and cert, in order to take the state teacher exams, candidates were required to do just that - turn your cell phone in to an attendee at a table. They would put it in a small plastic baggie with a number. They gave candidates a receipt with the number. When the test was finished, candidates could return to the table to retrieve their phone. It was either go through this process, leave the phone in the car or at home, or leave and don't take the test (which meant not becoming a teacher). I opted to turn in my phone and become a teacher. I didn't like it, but, sometimes, the rules require it. I don't teach high school, so I don't really know what's appropriate for the OP, but I just wanted to point out that there are similar cell phone policies for adults in certain situations. Sometimes we have to decide what's more important - the end goal or fighting the policy.
     
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  16. Mshope2012

    Mshope2012 Companion

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    Trust? I really don't trust very many people. We have had multiple issues with students using their cell phones inappropriately and illegally. For example, we had students prosecuted for sexting in school. We have had other students who have taken pictures and videos of other students in the locker rooms and bathrooms. (Think of someone sticking a cell under the stall while your using the bathroom and taking a picture!) We've had teachers put up on You Tube without their knowledge. I've had students take my picture without my knowledge. It was only brought to my attention by other students when it was on a "fake" website.

    I am paranoid. I try to act like I am on video all the time, because I actually might be. I don't collect student phones because I don't want to be responsible for them. However, I think it is a good idea in this day and age.
     
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  17. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    All I know is that my cell phone "policy" last year was there was no cell phone policy that I consistently enforced. If I do not collect phones at the beginning of class, then I'll really have to be on the ball whenever there is an infraction. Since I'm not going to budge on allowing phones as calculators, then my students will never need them out besides an occasional use for research but I doubt that will happen either. So I guess my policy, if it holds up, will be cell phones are to be put away once you are in my classroom. And this includes homeroom! Last year, EVERY student who had phones would be checking them when they walked into class. This ain't gonna happen and I'll enforce the rule on the first day. I'll train them to put away their phone before entering. Does this seem doable?
     
  18. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    I think it's doable. I wouldn't say I train my students, but I greet them at the door as they enter and if they have a phone out, I ask them to turn it off and put it away before entering. I make sure and say something to every single kid with a phone out. I did this on the first day of school and continued through until the last day. Very few students would have a phone out by the end of the year, but if they did, same approach. There are students I know will put it away before they sit down and students that will try to hide the phone under their leg while seated, but I politely say something to each and every one.

    It sounds like you plan on walking around your class a lot more this year, that should help you spot the phone users, because you will almost certainly have some.
     
  19. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    I understand Rockguykev, I wish it could be this way. However, what got me to change was when I was in the class and a principal evaluated me. The principal noticed two people who were using their phones when we weren't suppose to be allow them. I knew we weren't suppose to allow them but it's interesting how so many people can sneak them. The principal wasn't mean about it but it rattled my nerves a bit to think of a better way this summer to keep kids off them for this year. The wonderful joys of technology in the class.
     
  20. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    When I took my CSETs, they collected phones. I imagine some people didn't turn theirs in, but the threatened consequence was your test being invalidated if they discovered you had a phone. Lots of people turned them in. I left mine in my car.
     
  21. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Our written policy is that cell phones should be off and in lockers at all times during the school day. There are times when I allow students to have their phones (or other personal technology) in class--to use calculators, for research, etc. I am upfront with the students about the expectations; if I am allowing them to have phones, they remain visible on the desk at all times. When not being used (for example, when I am giving a lesson), they are face-down (laptop lids are closed). Students who don't follow the expectations have two choices--put the phone in their locker or give it to me until the end of the day. If I need to confiscate phones because students are not following my instructions, they are delivered to the office for the student to pick up from the principal.
     
  22. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    In this case and many other facets of teaching / classroom mgmt / policy / etc..., I can clearly see that there is no ONE perfect solution. Amazing how all sorts of experts, and I'm not talking about anyone on this message board, can claim to have the answers... But every teacher has to find what works for him / herself! I think when my colleagues start filtering back into their classrooms, I will survey a number of them to see how they handle it. I do not want to be the oddball in the faculty but I don't want to have the same problems I had last year. If I am to have the beginning of successful high school teaching, I'll have to stomp my foot somewhere and it will start with a sensible cell phone policy that I can manage and within guidelines.
     
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  23. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    There's a huge difference between asking for them on a test day and just blanket saying on day one "I don't know you but give me your cellphone just in case."
     
  24. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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  25. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    I've been convinced of not collecting everyone's cell phones at the beginning of class and returning at the end. I see too many negatives especially the time needed to do this and being responsible for electronics that aren't my own. So, part of the "meaning business" aspect of my cell phone policy will end up with my taking a cell phone away when used inappropriately. I would guess that a cell phone will be used inappropriately very quickly and I will just stand there hoping it gets handed to me. I'll have to train myself not to respond to defiance with silly talk or nagging.
     
  26. WordLover

    WordLover Rookie

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    I recently came off a long - term sub job. The teacher I replaced had a hanging shoe organizer on the wall near the door. Students were to place their phones there (not mandatory) and if non-placers were caught with their phones out, they were written up and referred to the vice-principal. I still had problems with some students and their phones so I've decided that - for my next job - I will have the shoe organizer near the front of the room (so all can see) and I'll number the pockets. All will have to put their phones in them as they enter.
     
  27. novaguy1968

    novaguy1968 MS English Educator

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    Yes, they did this at the school where I taught last year as well. From what I understand, it seemed to have worked well.
     
  28. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Be sure to confirm, and comply with, school policy, particularly if you are planning to keep phones after the end of the school day. If kids go home without their phones, there will be some angry phone calls from parents and you want to be sure that admin will back up your decisions.
     
  29. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Out of curiosity, has anyone here done the opposite of the norm and intentionally incorporated phones into the classroom? I'm not necessarily an advocate. Just curious about the concept.
     
  30. Mshope2012

    Mshope2012 Companion

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    To CherryOak,
    Yes, I typically do encourage phones. Our school really encourages them to bring in their own devices, since we barely have any computers. Students are told they are allowed to read on their devices as a rule. A lot of teachers use Kahoot in class to play review games.. In the past I've used some educational platforms like Moodle, Edmodo, Class Dojo where kids could access class information. I found that most kids did not have extra space on their cells for apps and could never remember their log-in information. Also, our school's wi-fi is pretty bad, so they didn't want to eat up their data. I don't blame them.

    I do let students use the phones for vocabulary and even to google things. (I should mention that we don't have textbooks that they can use as a reference anymore.) I have a few extra devices for kids who don't have a phone or tablet or they share. The issue is that it is impossible to police the texting and Snapchat/Instagram usage. I've even set up accounts to send out assignments and pictures/videos of class trips/projects on social media. I found that more effective than Remind because some students couldn't log in. Basically, 95% of the students are fine. I find that their parents are the ones that text them a lot about after school activities. They will often ask, "My mom just texted me, can I text her back?" Sometimes this type of thing causes an issue because we had a kid that when he would get in trouble would text his mom his side of the story and she would call before the principal even talked to him! However, this was one out of a hundred.

    What gets me is when kids are being districted by the cell phones, I say to put the phone down, and they are still texting. I take the phone per school policy and they just give it back to the kid. Due to this type of thing most teachers are my school just keep the phone for the class period and give it back.
     
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  31. novaguy1968

    novaguy1968 MS English Educator

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    I don't think it's harsh at all. Maybe you can give it back in June ;)
     
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  32. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I worked at a school where the cell phone was considered usable tech just like a computer. No ear phones, no calls, no social media, no on phone when the teacher is lecturing, no games allowed. If you incorporate the phones as tools, and you keep changing up what needs to be done with them, which is verified by results on the page, it's not bad. No question that teacher needs to watch, watch, and watch some more to prevent the no-no's from happening. Break the rules, student and phone to admin.
     
  33. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    During college, I admittedly texted through most of my classes and still came out with As. As such, I really don't feel the need to baby the kids.
     
  34. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    You would be surprised how much difference there is between early HS and college in maturity and school rules. If you are distracted in college and flunk out because of the excessive texting, that is all on you. HS rules are designed to limit non-stop texting to prevent student failure - parents react poorly to students flunking out because their kids are distracted by the cell phone use, and they wonder how the teachers could not be in the know and control of the situation. Consider it a failure of classroom management, because I can guarantee that is the complaint that the parents will take to the district superintendent. Parents want their student to be treated as an adult until the outcome is negative, and them they will talk about them as "children." Been there, experienced that. :2cents:
     
  35. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    I teach jrs and srs, not early HS. In any case, my course is not required for graduation, and no one has ever failed it for the year (though I've had kids fail for a marking period). My students, for the most part, do care about their grades and performance. I think there are bigger fish to fry than sending an occasional text message. As long as they are discreet about it, and don't try to spend the whole period goofing off with it, it's no big deal.
     
  36. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Whereas I am stuck enforcing school rules and policies. I now work at a school where cell phones are NOT allowed. They are contraband, and if we see the phones, we are obligated to write it up, and immediately tell a supervisor as well as the safeties. Big difference between public school and a private school, but an even bigger difference between the two populations. Some student populations can't be trusted with internet access. I wish they could, but they can't, so I follow the rules You really have no idea of the havoc they can create, along with dangerous/unsafe situations. Laissez–faire does not work in all situations.
     
  37. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Last year, I had a HUGE problem dealing with cell phones and hesitation when dealing with an infraction. This year, I have a "jail" hanging on the back wall. Students know they are not to have phones out for any reason once class starts. I caught one texting and it went to "jail." He got it back end of day. Another one just had it on his desk but wasn't using. I told him to jail it and he could get it after class. So far, my policy is working. But, I know I'm in the honeymoon period. We'll see how they behave in the coming weeks.
     
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  38. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Aug 11, 2017

    I just found out that our new school wide cell phone policy is that students cannot use their phones what so ever. If they take it out, one warning, if they do it again, they're sent up to the office, phone gets taken and parent called. If we are letting them use their phones, it's only in the last 10 minutes of class time.

    I didn't get to ask questions because I missed the first 3 days of work (no kids yet) because I h ad to fly back to Hungary for my dad's funeral :( I just got back, but the secretary kept me informed.

    I like this policy, it's straight forward and I hope it will work. I used to let them use their phone during silent reading or writing essays, but it's ok, they can be without. I can play music for them.
     
  39. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Aug 11, 2017

    My condolences, Linguist. I'm sorry to hear that your dad passed.
     
  40. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
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    Aug 11, 2017

    So sorry, Linguist.
     
  41. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
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    Aug 11, 2017

    So sorry to hear your father has died, Linguist. There's no good age at which to lose a dad.
     

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