Thursday, January 3, 2013

How to Discourage Cell Phones in the Class Room

034/365 exam week is here again
Exam week is here again (rosipaw)
by Richard D Boyce

What is important is that you need to acknowledge that 'mobiles' are part and parcel of the life of a teenager in the modern world.

As a teacher, you cannot ignore them. You must tackle the problem head-on. Students will want them on their person as a security measure, at least. They have become a 'clutch'.

The teacher needs to explain why they need to have students turn off their cell phones or at the very least put them on silent and put them on the front corner of their desk in full view. A cell phone not on view implies to the teacher that the student may be reading a text message or sending one.

Below are the reasons that a teacher might use to explain the need for this policy.

1. Cell phones will distract the learning process. No one has the right to prevent another person learning.

2. The flow of the lesson for both the teacher and the students will be interrupted and the understanding of new ideas and skills will be made more difficult and time consuming as the lesson will need to restart.

3. Most students who want to use cell phones will be high school students. The time available in each teaching area in high school is limited and the subject content is mandated, thus constant interruptions to the flow of lessons will impact on the students' learning and, ultimately, on their results and then their reports.

4. The majority of calls or texts are of a social nature. Therefore, in the scale of things, they are not important in the long term. If failing to answer a text immediately, breaks a friendship, then the friendship was not strong anyway.

5. There will be, occasionally, a crisis in a family where a student may need access to a cell phone. All the student need do is to tell the teacher of the situation, turn the phone on vibrate and leave it on the teacher's desk where the teacher can indicate to the student to come and get the phone and take the call outside the room.

6. It is also important to remind students that they decided to study the subject. They did not have to do that. Therefore, the onus is on them to respect their decision and the subject they have chosen.

7. At the beginning of each lesson, when necessary, students will be reminded to place their phone on the desk.

8. At assessment times, all cell phones would be handed into the teacher on arrival or left in their locker or left at home.

The teacher needs to outline the consequences of using cell phones while in class.

The first is that the teacher will not reteach the material the student has missed. That student will need to arrange to meet the teacher in their time and at a time convenient to the teacher to learn about the missed material. The student will also be required to do some community service as a 'punishment'.

Obviously, persistent offenders may need to give their cell phone to the teacher on arrival at class or it may be school policy for the phone to be handed into the office at the start of the day. The most serious consequence may be removal from the class for a specified time.

Throughout the whole discussion with your class about the cell phone issue, the teacher must convince the students that the policy is in the best interests of all the students and their future success. It would not hurt to admit it would make your job teaching them easier, too.

One final point: When you know you are going to teach a very important topic or discuss assessment, make sure you make the class aware of that fact in an effort to ensure all students are on task.

Our author, Rick Boyce, has, with three retired teachers, created a website designed to help the young teacher grapple with the day to day challenges of their profession. The issue of cell phones is one of those challenges not addressed in the various academic courses preparing young people to enter teaching.

Rick's website addresses, in various eBooks, what might be called 'The Tricks of the Trade'. These eBooks give teachers strategies to handle the many practical challenges that arise in the day to day world of teaching. The website is

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