Cell Phone Policies

Okay now that I have somewhat of a routine down with our newest family member, it is time to empty this brain of mine. For those of you who read my blog, prepare for a wave of blog posts this week and next. My brain needs some major dumping and blogging is where it is at!

Recently my principal asked me for my input on our districts cell phone policy. Since the second half of last year, I have been using cell phones in my classroom from time to time as a digital writing tool. This year it has really taken off with the use of Celly. As a result of engaging my 21st century learners and knowing that today’s “screenagers” are “wired”, my principal is looking to make a change. On the other hand, the misuse of cell phones is another cause for my principal to re-examine our policy. It is not just misuse by the students either, it is misuse by the adults, the so called professionals. Now, I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to checking my phone to see who texted me or emailed me. However, to check my phone and to be on it for an extended amount of time, is different. Just sayin!

Though I have not sent anything in writing to my principal, I have been diligintly thinking about how a school district can find a perfect balance between discipline and usage in the classroom when drafting a cell phone use policy. Some questions to ponder are: Does a school district involve parents when trying to determine a policy? If it takes a community to raise a child, shouldn’t we at least consider what parents have to say with the clear understanding that the school board, administrators, and teachers have the final say? Second, what about the student’s input? In my opinion, students are going to abide by a policy if they are the ones that helped construct it. Obvisously you can’t have every student participate. I think starting with a small survery for students about the use of cell phones in a school setting would be an excellent start. On the other side of the coin, consulting teachers and support staff about changing the policy will provide any district with a substantial number of people who can help develop and draft a policy.

With the help of many different people, I believe it is vital to think about appropriate times students can use a cell phones. In addition, we need to consider the appropriate times adults can use cell phones. Composing a list of safe digital sites associated with cell phone use can help ensure teachers such as myself that cell phones can continue to be used in the classroom as a digital tool. Then, there is the issue of consequences for those students and teachers who do not abide by the rules. Many schools confiscate phones for a day or contact parents. Whatever the punishment, it should be enforced and students, as well as teachers, should clearly understand their boundries.

With all this being written, I may be leaving some things out. I am certain that I am. However, I just want to make everyone think about the current policies in place at their school/district. I strongly believe that a policy, like a piece of writing, is never finished. It will continue to be a work in progress and should be revisted before the start of every school year to be revised. I am confident a majority of schools will be revising their cell phone policies in the future for the good of the cause. If your school doesn’t have a policy and you don’t know where to start, consult school districts around you to see what they have in place and use theirs as a stepping stone.


2 thoughts on “Cell Phone Policies

  1. I’m ready for the thinking you may unleash this week, Jeremy.
    I love your thinking around cell phones — the positive and the negative — and can say that my school is not even thinking about them at all. The closest we have is that we now allow kids to have e-readers for reading time. But I agree with you that schools are going to have to revisit old policies soon, if only to be relevant.

  2. I have been playing around with cell phones in my class for the past two years. We use them for apps, quick polling, “ticket out the door,” reading books, taking pictures of notes, getting alerts, etc.

    There are a zillion reasons to want to use them in class, but I think we’d be foolish not to recognize that there are all sorts of temptations that they put in their hands. I know how easy it is to just check to see what that message is on my personal email account or that text message from a friend when I should be using it for something else. And this is the kind of behavior that worries the administration about students using their phones – it allows for drama to get stirred up and all sorts of other things to happen at the speed of our mobile networks – so much faster than the whispers and note-passing of the “good old days.”

    I agree that parents and students should be part of this policy revision – and I will bring this up at my school. I have heard from a lot of students that parents often text them during the school day with reminders, information about this or that, questions, etc.

    Looking forward to all the posts you’ve promised!

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