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Episode 55: Cell Phone Use in the Classroom

Jeff Utecht June 13, 2018 37

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This week I sit down and chat about dealing with cell phones in the classroom. It might just be the hottest topic in education at the moment. I swear every conversation I have with teachers somehow some way turns to cell phones. In this episode I talk about how I go about handling these conversations with teachers as well as how I would structure my high school classroom today to meet students where they are.

  1. Talk about it: I find that if you start the year talking about cell phones in the classroom and face the fact that they are there you can continue to talk about them all year long. “I want you to have them, you want to have them so let’s work together to make sure we’re using them when we’re supposed to.” Is always a great start. A) it shows that you respect them B) You bring them into the fold of creating the cell phone policy for the class.
  2. Respect: I’ll respect that you have a life outside this classroom and for better for worse it doesn’t end when you walk through that door. However, at the same time, I need you to respect this learning environment for you and for others. If you need to use your phone because something crazy is going on in your life…just ask.. I won’t disrespect your connected life and you do not disrespect the limited time we have together as a group.
  3. Continual learning: Constantly have discussions about “being connected”. Learn why SnapChat is so “addicting” to them. Why are streaks so important? I find 99% of the time teenagers just really want someone to care and “get” their life. Bring articles in the classroom about kids being over connected and discuss those (so many blog posts here). We have to engage them in the conversations about being connected and understanding the pressure they are feeling in order to have the conversation to put it down and pay attention.

An article from Brad Stulberg (https://www.outsideonline.com/2297671/most-eco-minded-toughest-gear-planet) came across my twitter feed yesterday. He writes for the blog outsideonline.com and if I were teaching HS today this is the type of article that when I found it I would share and discuss with my students.

It’s a really good article that talks about some research around what happens just having our phone around us. But he ends the article with four things we can all do.

  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Remove your phone from your visual field (for example, out of the room where you’re trying to work or out of your bedroom at night). Doing so immediately dampens its pull on you.

  • Schedule Device-Free Time: Make hard rules for certain activities during which you’ll absolutely keep your phone out of sight. Examples: at the gym, on a hike, during deep-focus work, watching television with your significant other, and perhaps most important, when you’re sleeping.

  • Monitor Your Usage: Apps like Moment, which tracks how much time you spend on your device, surface trouble spots and bring greater overall awareness to how (and when) you use your devices.

  • Tech-Free Mornings: For the first 30 minutes after waking, don’t interact with technology. Instead, use this time to set an intention for the day; fully immerse yourself in a ritual like coffee, meditation, or yoga; or do a chunk of deep-focus work.

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