Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Think That Tomorrow Will be a Fight

Today we had a school wide assembly.  At the assembly the students were told that as of tomorrow they were no longer going to be allowed to have cell phones during class hours.  The cell phones will be collected at homeroom periods and returned during noon hour.  This is okay.  We talked about it during our last staff meeting.   We really have not done much of a job of teaching our students to use the cell phones respectfully and productively.  Our students' cell phone use is really distracting them from their education.  We teach at a difficult school and we are scrambling to help our students succeed academically.

Then our principal blindsides us (during the assembly) by telling all of the students that staff members will be locking up our cell phones as well (contrary to the mandate of the staff handbook).  Let me start with my initial irrational reaction.  No bloody way.  There is no way that you are going to take away my shiny new iPhone.  I will not be separated from having Google in my pocket.

Let me explain a bit before I move on to my more rational reaction.  I finally got my first smartphone a few months ago and I have been working hard at finding ways to integrate it into my daily work and daily life.  I now read my email on it more than I do my computer.  I have my life programmed into the calendar.  I use it to refer to my day plans.  It is a quick reference tool, my calculator, one of my notepads, and my camera.   I read most of my books on my smartphone.  It even sends me texts to remind me when I have supervision.  I feel much more organized when I have this tool with me.  I am an edtechnophile.

And now for something completely different - my rational reaction (after thinking about it of course).  I agree that I will get better buy in from my students if I lead by example.  They are more likely to comply if I am not flashing my own cell phone in their faces.  I will do it (with some grumbling out of student earshot).  I may even agree with doing it.  Enough said.

If I reacted this strongly, how are our students going to do?

I still think that tomorrow will be a fight.

On a related note:  Take a look at the slides from this presentation by David Truss a few years back.


Donna said...

I am sorry to hear that is a direction that you have gone in your school. Your teachers must have reached a frustration point. Other schools in our division have gone in a slightly different direction e.g Macklin is asking students to place their phones on their desks at all times. A graded level of responsibility will be in place: from students asking permission to use the phone for learning purposes e.g. Calculator, google, dictionary to using independently when necessary. I see this graded approach as really important for teacher comfort level as the phones become a part of their instructional practice.

You might also find this article worth sharing with your staff and administration.


Gary Ball said...

That presentation from David Truss was one that I heard at BLC back in 2009. That was the year we were going to get our first cell service in school. It was the golden opportunity to plan for what we would do with and about the cell phones. I spent half a year getting bumped from the staff meetings. I never did get present what I learned.

Maybe the best approach for us is to slowly phase the cellphones back in, teaching responsibility as we go. Unfortunately there was absolutely no discussion about that point. I am sure that there was some applause over the fact that they were banned.

Dean Shareski said...

I'm awaiting a follow up post.

LBG said...

Gary, I feel your frustration. We are so connected until we enter school. Staff and students can access so much through their cell phones and other mobile devices. They are skilled at using the technology but yet we want them to do it in such a controlled manner.

Dave Truss said...

I just stumbled by this post... what's the current situation?

Personally I can't believe this is a conversation being had in 2011!

So, if some students start misusing pencils in class... will those be banned too?