Teachers deal with the distraction of cell phones

The use of technology in the classroom is a helpful educational tool and has changed the way a modern classroom works. However, it has also become a nuisance to many teachers and a distraction to many students. Cell phone use in classrooms has become a problem for several teachers.

Several teachers have implemented different strategies to deal with the problem. Some teachers have purchased phone caddies. Students put their phones in the caddies at the beginning of the period and the teacher uses it to take role, so if a student’s cell phone isn’t there, they are marked absent. Ms. Melissa Havel installed phone caddies in her classroom towards the end of the first semester, as did Dr. Michelle Laferve-Bernt, Ms. Jennifer Carlomagno, and Ms. Karen Arcangelo.

“I put them in because I was having such an issue controlling phone usage in class,” Havel said. “Even when phones are supposed to be turned off and put away, I knew students were taking them out. I think they work really well because now students don’t have anything else to do, like play on their cell phone. Now the volume of the classroom is louder because students are actually talking to each other versus just being on their phones.”

Many students are reluctant to put their cell phone in the caddy. Students have refused to give up their cell phone and have been sent to the office or given a referral. Restorative Justice has been a frequently-used tool for dealing with cell phone disputes that lead to bigger problems between teacher and student.

“I feel that students should have the option between being on their phone or not, considering it is their grade and not their teacher’s grade,” said junior Lauren Enslin. “Checking phones is one thing and being on your phone the entire class is another thing. If kids believe that phones are distracting then they don’t have to be on them.”

Another teacher approach to cell phone use is simply letting students use their phones in class, which puts the blame on the student if they don’t succeed. Teachers often give a warning or take phones away for the rest of the period if they see a student using it in class. Students are not allowed to use cell phones while taking tests, for the obvious reason that they could send pictures. Many teachers give students zeros on tests if they are caught using their cell phone. Cell phones have also made cheating and distribution of homework easy and frequent activities for students.

As of now, it is up to each teacher to decide their own cell phone policy. School administration does not plan to make a universal policy, so teachers are dealing with cell phones in their classrooms however they feel is appropriate.