Rethinking Cell Phones

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Moogeeg, Nov 7, 2015.

  1. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    Nov 7, 2015

    In the past, I have always banned cell phones. I find that it is difficult to enforce and sometimes creates an unnecessary negative tone in the room. I have also found that a lot of the time when I do call out a student for being on the phone, they really are just checking the time or confirming a ride home. How much of a battle do I really want to have?

    In talking to a coworker the other day, he mentioned that he now tells students that if they really need to shoot a quick text to their parents or whatever, they can do that. He feels that students like being able to know that they are able to use phones if they must, and that he doesn't see as much overuse of phones while he is teaching anymore. If he notices that a student is on the phone excessively, he goes up to the student and kindly asks if everything is okay. He said that students really appreciate that he approaches it in a concerned way rather than being accusatory.

    I am debating trying this out with my next batch of classes. I will probably have a conversation with all of my classes in which we discuss what times are appropriate for using a phone, and so on.

    Have any of you allowed more phone use in your room? What have your results been like?
     
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  3. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Nov 7, 2015

    I let them read on their phones, which can be hard to enforce. They have to earn my trust first. I also let them shoot a quick text or check something if they ask and their work is done. I don't notice much overuse.
     
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Whenever possible, I try to treat students as I'd like to be treated. If I was at a staff meeting and we had an absolute zero use, never look at your phone policy, I'd feel annoyed and insulted. I realize it is completely different with high schoolers as it brings about a number of issues, but it may be something to try. Everything you bring up in the OP seems reasonable as long as they can handle it.
     
  5. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

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    Agreed with otterpop. A policy I've seen a few times in higher education is to allow students to use their phones whenever. However, if they miss out on anything, it is their fault, and you will not repeat it. This puts the responsibility on them to make sure they are paying attention. I'm not sure if this would work with high schoolers. Maybe it would with 11th and 12th graders.
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Our students turn in their phones at morning check in.
    However, if they didn't have to (I teach high school) I could see myself telling them that if they have to glance at their phone, text a parent (pick them up after school, etc) here and there it's ok, and I will trust them that they will make the right decision. But I would reserve the right to take away a phone if I see excessive texting, or a student staring at his phone and smiling, etc, obviously abusing my kindness.
    And if there were several students abusing it, I would take this privilege away from the entire class (this creates peer pressure to do the right thing)
     
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  7. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Nov 7, 2015

    I'm K-6. We allow our students to have cell phones, but they have to be turned off or silenced during the school day. Personally, I don't see any reason why K-6 students should be using their phone during class.
     
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  8. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Nov 7, 2015

    Kids have multiple chances to ask parents things: between classes and at lunch. They don't need to do that during class. There should also be a clock visible in the class to check the time.

    Maybe I'm an old fuddy-duddy, but class time is learning time.
     
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  9. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    Nov 7, 2015

    Thank you!

    I agree. This might be a great way to look at it. What is funny is that our principal (who is well-liked and well-respected) has asked that we no longer use our phones when engaged in discussion during a staff meeting. It was getting to the point that 80% of teachers had their heads down while she was talking! She isn't banning them altogether, but is merely calling out those who overuse. Those who must are free to leave and take a call, etc.
    This is primarily the group I am concerned with. I have a new prep with upperclassmen only and think that this may work. I may ask them for their personal view of appropriate cell phone usage in the classroom and agree on parameters as a class.
    I will honestly probably take away the privilege for individuals only, but I do agree that some limits do still need to be set.
    I agree. I teach 9th-12th, however, so it is a different story.
    I agree with you as well, but I am also sick of correcting kids with phones out and having this be the excuse. As annoying as it is, this is often what they are doing, and it is innocent enough that as long as it doesn't interfere with their learning, I think I need to step off a bit. Parents are the worst at texting during class!
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    No need to have a phone out in my classroom unless I specifically ask you to. I have two clocks in my room. If you can't tell time on an analog clock, I'll be happy to reteach you. Besides, you don't need to know the time. You're not going to leave until you're dismissed. I call time for quizzes and tests. And you are given multiple reminders about time while working.

    I'm having a problem this year with students insisting they should keep their phones on their desks. This is new to me. Usually kids want to hide them away. But this way they immediately know who is texting them, even if they can't respond because I'm watching.

    I find cellphone use during instructional time incredibly rude. I spend hours making lessons for my classes. I would have ZERO problem with a boss telling me I couldn't have a phone during a meeting. At my last job cell phones weren't allowed at all and having one on you was an immediate firing offense.
     
  11. Letsgo

    Letsgo Rookie

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    Nov 7, 2015

    I am wondering the exact same thing. I teach sophomores and juniors. Most of
    our class time is spent either taking notes, independently working, doing group work, or in class discussion. During note taking, they can use their phones if they write quickly or need to check something. I will mention a student by name if they are getting too distracted. During independent work time, they are allowed to use their phones to listen to music or use the dictionary. I will remind them to be on task if they aren't. If I have students who tend to be very distracted, I will tell them a certain goal they need to meet next time I come around to Check their work (Like, "Finish problems 3 and 4 in the next few minutes so I can check them when I come around again.")

    The times they cannot use cellphones at all are during announcements/directions (the first few minutes of class), class discussion, and group work. When we transition to discussion or group work, I always list my expectations, including absolutely no cellphone use.

    I think it works, but I wish I had better control over their cellphone use during independent work time. I still think too many of them abuse it.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 7, 2015

    Adding - I'm reasonable with this policy though. If a child has some emergency I'll allow the phone to be on. A student's father had a heart attack and was in the hospital. He came to school and kept his phone nearby. A student's girlfriend was past her due date. He kept his phone with him. Until it became a problem. Then I kept his phone in MY pocket just in case he got a text from her :)
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 7, 2015

    I find that teacher's can be the worst offenders with personal technology. I've seen colleagues texting each other, shopping online, updating FB status during workshops, faculty meetings, and during 'teaching time'. I see nothing wrong with placing limits on cell phone use... It's distracting and rude to see eyes on phones and not the speaker. If one needs to check for messages, they can do that on personal time, class switching time, lunch, recess, Prep/study periods. Or step into the hall way if there's something pressing which must be tended to immediately. IMO
     
  14. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Nov 7, 2015

    Well said - a time and place for everything. If you really want to see what people are like watch how they behave when limits are off and left to their own inclination. These teaches should get up in front of a faculty meeting or workshop and see what it feels like to look up and see so-called professionals telling them what they have to say is not worth their time. Amazing to me is a principal having to make a "rule" about cell phone use during staff meetings. I will guess the teachers using cell phones today are the same bunch who were correcting papers, socializing and knitting during meetings when I began teaching. I often wondered if they were working in the private sector, say a bank, and the CEO called a meeting, if they would try the same behavior?
     
  15. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    I agree with everything you have said. Unfortunately, it is just too much of a battle for me personally.

    I also completely agree with what you said about phones out during meetings. I never pull mine out. Ever. I found it absolutely horrifying that 80+ teachers who would likely be disgusted at a classful of students demonstrating similar behavior would be willing to be so rude in front of the principal. It was astounding.
     
  16. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    Yup. It is when they start watching Netflix and so on when you know you have a problem. I am really hoping that taking this approach will help.
     
  17. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    Teachers can definitely be a rude audience. I didn't have any problem with what the principal did- i was just astounded that she had to do anything about it!
    It truly is awful. I can't believe the nerve of some people. Unfortunately, while I can't speak for a banking meeting, I have heard similar comments from people in other fields. As a society, we are losing sight of what it means to focus our attention on what is important. I hope that my policy will enable students to be able to manage their own cell phone use at appropriate times. I very well may be proven wrong. However, the battle will only get more difficult as phones become more and more ingrained.
     
  18. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Reminds me of the new Chevy commercial where they take the people's phones and seemingly dump them in a wood chipper. Oh, the horror of suddenly being disconnected. Of course the phones are fine, otherwise they wouldn't buy the new model that will keep them seamlessly connected no matter where they go or do. Another commercial promises the same things to a bunch of kids on an online game. I use my phone, but I refuse to take grief from anyone who tries to guilt me because I missed OR ignored a call. Hey, human brain at work!
     
  19. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Nov 8, 2015

    once, in a prior life, I fired a young guy because he was texting on his cell phone during a critical meeting where we were trying to resolve a very serious production issue. I told him that his priorities were misaligned and his judgement was poor.

    My school is strict about cell phones, which aligns with my viewpoint on them.In emergencies, myself and /or my students are easily reached through the school phone system and intercom.
     
  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nov 8, 2015

    Cell phone enforcement depends almost completely on how serious your school is about it.

    If every teacher is on board with cell-phone banning, and they're completely not allowed to be out during school hours, you'll get a lot less negative reactions when taking away cell phones.

    If certain teachers allow cell phones then it becomes an annoying case of "But Mr. So-and-so allows us to have our cell phones out!" That alone is a sign that students won't take school rules seriously, and can lead to worse behavior in general.

    I recommend you go with whatever your school policy is.

    That said, in my class cell-phone enforcement is as follows: If you have your phone out in class, it becomes mine. If the phone rings, I'm usually lenient and tell them to just turn it off, unless it happens again, then I take it.

    School policy is that students or parents pick it up from the office.

    There are clocks in the room so they don't need their phones to check the time (learn to read a clock).
     
  21. El sol

    El sol Rookie

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    Nov 8, 2015

    There are specific times during a period that I let students use technology. If any student uses their technology in non-allowed times, cell phone is taken away. It's that simple.

    For allowed use of technology, it is a privilege, and as such, if it is abused it is taken away individually. This year I have only taken that privilege away from one student so far. There's many advantages to using technology in the classroom but you will always have kids testing you. New features like the Iphone's quickview or whatever it's called make it harder for teachers though.
     
  22. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Make sure you really know the school policy. I have now worked at two schools where the phones are supposed to be when the teacher allows, but in the next breath, teachers are told they are absolutely NOT to take possession of student's phones. The schools don't want to set themselves up for litigation should the phone be damaged or lost once removed from the student. Once I understood that all of the teacher's options were moot, I simply accepted that cell phones were in the classroom to stay, so I incorporate them into routines and for use with research. I am not going to risk my job to take away a student's phone when the school does not have my back. My solution seems more proactive, at least to me.
     
  23. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Nov 10, 2015

    Oh gosh reading this thread makes think... I survived my teen & college (most of...we had those bag phones for emergency only) without a cell! Lol! Calling mom that practice changed on the pay phone usually using calling card or collect call. Lol!
    Sorry... I had to put it out there! I feel bad for you who do have to struggle with this issue!!!
     
  24. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    Nov 11, 2015

    I actually talked to my assistant principal about it this week. She said that taking phones is supported, and that some teachers do it a lot more than others. The phone is then locked up in the office and is the responsibility of the office. I am thinking that I will bring back the "phone jail" that a student built for me last year if someone is truly abusing the policy. They would place their phones in jail and be able to retrieve it when I tell them to do so. It is not for the entire class- just a small box should people need a break from their phones. I will have a discussion at the beginning of the trimester with students and make a list of when it is appropriate to be on a phone and when it is not.
     
  25. Rhesus

    Rhesus Comrade

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    Nov 14, 2015

    My rule this year was that I don't care if they quickly check there phones during momentary down times, like at the beginning of class when I'm taking attendance, or at the end when we are wrapping things up. However, no phone use is permitted during instructional time or it goes into a box until the end of class. It is not perfect, but works pretty well and for the most part the kids seem to know and respect that I am striking a compromise.
     

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