Yesterday I took away my first cell phone. I told a student to put it away and that if I saw it one more time I was going to give it to my mentor teacher for the rest of the school day. I walked away and two minutes later I saw it out again, so I took it away. Cell phones are a constant issue in my mentor’s classroom and this was the first time I really took action. I feel like I’m constantly telling kids to put their phones away, which I hate doing, so this made me think about how I could make cellphones part of learning.
This reminds me of something Rory brought up earlier in the year. We are living in an age where whatever we as teachers do in the classroom has to be so engaging that students won’t want to have their phones out in the first place. While I agree with this, it sounds like such a daunting task. I’d like to think that I’m an engaging educator, but this seems tiring. One solution would be to use apps in the classroom and integrate cellphones into instruction. Then again, I toy with the issue of equity in my classroom. From a survey I administered early in the semester, I know that all students do not own smartphones.
I also think students need to learn how to be respectful with technology. When you hang out with friends or family, it is not very polite to be glued to your cellphone. Is this how kids are when they’re out of school also? I also think about what is going to happen when students apply for jobs or for college. Will they still be distracted by their cellphones and how will this impact their job or future academic performance?
While I don’t have the answer now, I think there needs to be a balance between using cellphones for instruction and putting them away when it is not appropriate. Just as we need to teach students how to manage their online life, we need to teach students how to manage their real life with ubiquitous tech use.