Phones in the Classroom: 9 Suggestions From a Teacher & How Parents Can Help With This Battle by Kathy Sprenger

Phones in the Classroom: 9 Suggestions From a Teacher & How Parents Can Help With This Battle

The other day I was talking to my brother about the struggles I have with phones in my classroom. I teach 9th and 10th grade social studies in an urban school. Every single day I battle against the phones in my class.

You may say, just take them from the students. I say remember the love and relationship you have with your phone. The part that pushes it over the top is when parents text or call or message their child during my class. We will be discussing the Crusades when a student is on their phone again. I ask them to put it away and they say they are texting their mom. When I mentioned this to my 40-something-year-old brother, he went, “Oh, well, that’s a wake-up call for me. I text my daughter during the day knowing she will respond immediately. I assume she’s in lunch or study hall.” That conversation and my frustrations inspired these suggestions.

  • Don’t call or text your child during the day. If your child returns your text or answers your call, that means they probably are not paying attention to what is going on in class. Countless times I’ve asked my students to put their phones away and their response was that they were texting their mom. When you text your child during my class with them, you are putting your child in the middle. The good news is that your child will probably side with you, but it's so much better if we can avoid that power struggle all together. 
  • If you must get in contact with your child, learn their schedule. Learn when they are free with study hall or lunch. 
  • If there is an emergency, get in contact with the school to get in contact with the child. It is so much better for the student and the class in general if a student is not in the class when they learn sad news or of an emergency. There are social workers at school to help your child deal with whatever the situation is, and the social workers are not in the classroom. If you really need to tell your child directly, again, do it through the school so that all parties know what’s occurring.
  • Check their phone. Look at the students schedule and see if they were online or texting during the day. Ask about it. Be nosy. They are still children even when they insist they’re “grown.”
  • Take their phone away. They will be perfectly safe at school without their phone. If the phone becomes an issue, take it away. Let them see how they can survive without their phone attached to their face. 
  • If you take their phone away for punishment, let the school(or at least their teachers) know. That way, if a teacher sees them on their phone when the student isn’t supposed to have it, the teacher can let you know. Students borrow friends’ phones or even get second phones cheaply that parents do not know about. 
  • If taking the phone away isn’t an option, turn their data off. 
  • Find a place for their phone to be. If students are bringing phones to class, be sure the ringer is turned off and that there is a place for their phone to be for safe keeping, like a book bag or purse. Many teachers would even allow students to keep their phones on the teacher’s desk to take the temptation away. I know I do. 
  • Believe the teacher. When a teacher calls home, believe what they are saying. Listen to your child but know that teenagers often have a persecution filter. They often view the world, especially adults, as out to get them. It truly isn’t the case. Teachers choose their profession because they want to help students. 

Any way you can help us teachers is greatly appreciated! Chocolate is nice, but taking the phone battle away is even better!

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Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Oh my gosh, yes! Wonderful suggestions for a growing problem (even in middle schools and earlier). Many thanks, Kathy Sprenger . Welcome to our community of inspirers at 30Seconds. We look forward to learning and growing with you!

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