Happy Friday! The whirlwind of the back-to-school season has almost calmed in the Petty household. We’re almost settled into our crazy weekday routine of laying out clothes the night before, setting cell phone reminders, packing backpacks and lunches, ensuring that all dance, soccer, and piano requirements are ready to go, enjoying a nighttime read, and finding some time to rest and recharge as a family. Thank you, Lord, for coffee!!!
I’m entering my 11th year teaching and it blows my mind how many things have changed in education during my relatively short tenure. For example, during my first few years in the classroom, earbuds/headphones were not only banned, but teachers were required to confiscate them if they were seen. Now … earbuds/headphones are a REQUIREMENT for my class! In years past, students were not allowed to have their cell phones visible while at school and now, students frequently use their cell phones in the hallways, the cafeteria, and sometimes the classroom.
How do you tackle personal devices in the classroom? Do you ban them completely? Do you allow them for school purposes? Are your students allowed to use their phones to listen to music? Can they text in class? Step out to make a phone call?
In my building, teachers are able to set their own classroom procedures for cell phone usage. When we discussed cell phone usage, I saw many eyes pop open when I said, “we’ll use your phones in class. Sometimes I’ll ask you to locate resources with your cell phone, submit projects with your cell phone, use your phone to view trending topics on social media, etc.”
Crazy how things have changed over a short time!
I also broke the news to my students that there would be days in our class that they would not be able to use their phones. For example, when we’re taking summative or state standardized tests. I post these images on the “Important Info” board in the front of my room so students know what to expect each day in regard to cell phone usage.
When I first started teaching, I saw cell phones only as a classroom distraction that I couldn’t and wouldn’t tolerate. Now, I welcome cell phones and respectful use in my classroom. Here’s a quick rundown of our classroom norms for cell phone usage:
- Please put your phones in “courtesy mode” when your classmates or Mrs. Petty are talking (courtesy mode = cell phones facedown, earbuds out)
- Finish your work before you use your phone unless you’re using your phone to work
- Don’t answer a phone call during class – yup, I’ve had to address that
- Be respectful and responsible with your phone
I see my job as a teacher not only as a designer of learning experiences that encourage my students to think critically, collaborate, communicate, and create as they learn, but also as someone who should model appropriate cell phone usage in the classroom. Cell phones aren’t going anywhere, friends. I hope I’m able to help them learn and practice respectful use of their personal devices, which will hopefully continue long after they leave my classroom.
I’d love to hear your classroom cell phone policy!