Cell phones have become a plague on the modern high school.
I love my cell phone as much as the next person, but I realize there is a time and a place to use it. During the middle of a school day, while I’m supposed to be teaching is obviously not the time to be checking my voicemail, calling my mother or texting my friends about our weekend plans. My students do not seem to understand this.
Like most schools, we have a cell phone policy. It’s sort of a don’t ask, don’t tell situation. We don’t ban them from the building. As long as they are totally out of sight, we pretend the kids don’t have them. If they ring/beep/burst into song during class, we take them. If kids have them out during passing periods either to text or to “check the time” as they always claim, we take them. Even if they are wearing them visably on their person, we take them. It doesn’t seem like a hard concept to follow. The cell phone is on silent mode and put away during the hours of 8-3. Up until the moment the bell rings in the morning and the second it rings after school, they can open up their phones and start chatting.
I’m not sure if it is the specific school I teach at or if teens have just gotten cell phone crazy, but in my 10 years of teaching (man I’m getting old), I have never had a problem with kids and phones until I took this job three years ago. Even my annoying little monkeys in Florida who could barely read, were thrilled to curse anyone out and generally gave me the perfect argument for infantacide, didn’t spend this much time glued to their phones.
The first year I took this job, the consequence for having a cell phone out was to have it confiscated and turned in to an administrator. At the end of the day the kid had to go pick it up. After their third offense or so, they got a detention. I think I took half a dozen phones that year. My second year at this job, the office started getting a bit overwhelmed with phones so they stepped things up. Student phones still got handed over to administrators, but parents had to come in person to pick their kid’s phone up. The second offense resulted in a parental pick up and a detention. I problably took a dozen phones that year. This year started off the same, however, by the second semester, the phones were accumulating at such an amazing rate (the 9th-10th grade VP had a dozen before lunch) that they had to step it up again. Now, any kid with their phone out results in an immediate detention as well as the phone being taken away. The second time it is a Saturday school and their parent has to retrieve the phone. The third time it’s a suspension.
This may sound fairly rigid to those outside the teaching world, but it is ridiculous that the kids can’t separate themselves from a tiny piece of technology. Not to mention the fact that they are a HUGE distraction. Instead of doing their work, kids text each other (and as all the news reports will tell you, they use them to cheat on tests as well). Heck, instead of talking to each other while they sit together they text. Their cell phone has replaced simple human contact.
In the past month, I have taken at least half a dozen phones. The worst part is that instead of just handing them over, most of the kids want to argue. And not just an “aw, please don’t take it” kind of arguing. Half the time it’s lame excuses like checking the time (when they have a watch on). The other half of the time it’s nasty, beligerent, name callling kind of arguing. In the last week I’ve had one kid lie to me about having a phone (which I clearly saw), then curse at me (“how the fuck you gonna take my phone”), walk away from me when I told him to wait so I could write up his discipline form and finally when I told him to come back over to me, he had the nerve to inform me I could say please. WHAT????
Yesterday I tried to take a phone from a girl who refused to hand it over. She told me I had no right, put it in her bag and walked away from me. This was after I explained to her she was trading a detention for a phone for a Saturday school for insubordination. Her response? “I’ll just have my mama call and get me out of it like she always does.” She ended up in the VP’s office with a call to her mom and the Saturday school. She swears she won’t serve it and the VP told her that’s fine, he’d just suspend her instead.
Suspension…over a cell phone. Anyone else see a problem? All she had to do was hand it over. Or better yet, not have it out in the first place. According to her discipline record, this is the third time her phone has been taken away this year. You’d think she’d learn.
I’m not sure there is a solution to the cell phone issue. I realize cell phones weren’t really popular when I was in school, but if I had gotten a detention for messing with mine during the day, my father would have yanked it from me, taken my car and probably grounded me. I can’t even begin to imagine what he’d have done if I’d gotten suspended over one. Then again, I never would have cursed at a teacher or refused to hand something over. And, he wouldn’t have been calling me on the cell phone to risk me getting in trouble.
Despite knowing their kids are sitting in class, it is astounding the number of parents who either text or call their kids.
And teachers get the blame for failling educational standards.