Scott McLeod has written a good post on the ridiculous idea some schools have about purchasing technology that would allow them to jam cellphone transmissions from students. He invited readers to share their thoughts about student cellphone usage.
I’ve written about this before, but I thought I’d share the comment I left on his post:
“Jeez, talking about overkill!
I’ve posted about why I support our school’s banning the use of cellphones during school hours (not banning bringing them to school, though). Our large inner-city school’s ban on cellphones (and iPods), I believe, has contributed positively to improving our school climate. It has reduced the likelihood of students using them to organize and/or escalate fights, and has helped eliminate yet one more tempting distraction from our students already chaotic lives.
If a student has a cellphone out between classes, a monitor confiscates it until the end of school. If a student has it out during class, a teacher can do the same, but usually only keeps it until the end of class.
However, confiscations really don’t seem to happen that much — students generally respect the rule. We have what I would call a very “relational” discipline system at our school. Explaining, and reminding, students why we have the ban in place generally makes sense to them. And those times include hearing their feedback. Of course, these conversations are done in the context of a strong teacher/student relationships, which are also emphasized heavily at our school.
Umm, building relationships…That might be an idea schools could consider before they buy high-tech devices that students will figure out a way around anyway.”
You might also be interested in visiting the post I wrote about our iPod ban, too.
All feedback is welcome!
Larry – I get the kinds of use you describe which are really off task and problem causing … what if you had a a project that cellphones would really be a powerful part of though? Where the use was specific … as opposed to just open use? What if time was taken (probably starting in earlier grades) in teaching proper use?
I can see how cellphones could be useful in particular situations and schools — just as most tools or instructional strategies can be. I just think in many schools their use is not helpful — at least not until a number of the underlying problems facing families in our neighborhoods are solved.
At our faculty orientation today we all received cell phones. Yes, the entire faculty received a school/work cell phone. While it is great in theory to ban cellphone usage in schools, the reality is, we as teachers are not being good role models about it. So basically when I come to school everyday I have two cell phones in my possession; one work, one personal. I have mine at work for personal emergencies and have never texted or called on my phone while students are in the room. However, I have seen this and know that it happens in many schools. I think teachers who have cell phones present in front of students lose a lot of credibility when it comes to enforcing cell phone discipline.
I think it is something we need to adapt to. Banning cell phones from school will not work. Enforcing acceptable use policies for cell phones like we do our laptops and network, is something to consider. Obviously, this does not open up the flood gates for students to use cell phones during school hours, but if they get caught, there is a penalty. And what ever that penalty is, has to be consistent and enforced by all, including teachers and aides.