Dealing With Cell Phones in Class
Apr 4, 2010 Classroom Management 4991 Views
Cell phones are everywhere, and chances are that you have a special relationship with yours. The sad reality is, however, that more and more often, teens are bringing them into the classroom and setting the stage for a plethora of problems. Not only is cell phone use at many schools prohibited during school hours, but use of text messaging during class sets the stage for distraction from the tasks at hand, academic dishonesty, and even bullying. Depending on your school's particular policy, you may need to talk to your students about your own personal rules regarding cell phone usage in your classroom, even if you cannot change the rules about having cell phones on campus.
Disadvantages of Cellular Phones during School Hours
Although it is certainly debatable, cell phones have a lot of negative implications for use during school hours. As mentioned above, cell phones are (in a best case scenario) a distraction from the learning process. Most teens have one and stay "plugged" in 24/7/365. It is the first thing they reach for when they roll out of bed, and they stay hooked to it the entire day. This can present a real problem when your lecture on polynomials is being sidetracked by continual text messages popping up on their phones. Cell phones can also be used for the purpose of academic dishonesty when students' text answers back and forth to one another during a test. And in some instances, they are used for cyber bullying of other students in school, which opens up a whole new can of worms altogether.
There is a wide variety of policies when it comes to cell phone usage. Some districts simply ban them altogether in all schools. Others may have a partial use policy that allows students to use their phones at certain times during the day, such as between classes or at lunch, while others may say that students may use cell phones only after school when communicating with parents about extracurricular activities. As an educator, you must be aware of the policies of your district and follow those guidelines.
In Your Classroom
Most school systems allow teachers to establish their own set of rules for their classrooms, as long as those rules don't impede any rules that have been set out by the board. In districts where the rules on cell phone usage during school hours are lax, you are well within your limits to disallow the use of cell phones in your own classroom. Like any other "toy", you do not have to allow your students to play while they are supposed to be engaged in learning. Set your rules and stick to them. Many teachers will confiscate the cell phone and turn it into the office if they catch a student texting or otherwise using the phone during the class period. Then the parent must come to school and retrieve the device. This is a great way to put a halt to the problem, as most parents are not too happy to make a special trip to school because their child was busy texting instead of paying attention - and thus parents are more willing to cooperate with your efforts to stave off this increasingly bad habit from their end.
No matter how you choose to deal with the cellular phone debacle, remember to set a good example. If students observe you texting often, then they are going to assume that it is okay to do so themselves. Monkey see, monkey do - so don't.