30 March 2015

5 Ways to Respond to a Students' Phone Being Out Besides Smashing It

You've seen a video like this, right?

I don't want to get on a high horse and pretend there hasn't been a time or two through the years that it hasn't been a dreamy proposition, but is this ever justifiable when you're awake, and of sober mind?

I had a Facebook friend propose this should happen to any student that has their phone out. Who does this help? Is there a follow-up to this video where the student whose phone was destroyed (or anyone else in the room for that matter) comes to see the errors of their ways and begins proselytizing in the name of luddites everywhere?

I had one of my "good" students in a class of several that cause me trouble who I caught FaceTiming with her friend. Was I frustrated? You bet. Does she need a consequence? Of course! But the only thing an over-reaction does (even a referral, I think) is take a student that is much more often than not an ally in the room and turn her against me. So I had her shut it down immediately when I found it, then as she was about to leave for lunch, I called her over to conference with her and asked her what she thought her consequence should be. (Believe it or not, I did not yet have one ready for "FaceTiming in class instead of working on guided practice" LOL)

So, I'm still working out what exactly this students' consequence will be for today, (although I'm leaning toward some kind of essay on appropriate tech use/PSA/fix all the iPads backgrounds back to normal work), but until then, here's a few other ideas. 

1. Treat it like you would if the student were your own child. Especially if its an isolated incident, do your best to laugh it off, tell them to put it away, and move on to the next battle.
This is easier if you actually ARE a parent, but teachers are great at empathy, so I'm sure you'll make due. Besides the fact that you probably would have had a hand in paying for that device (or the replacement), you would also have to parent and have a relationship with this teenager after your moment of phone-smashing passion. Its tough to recover from things you say/promise/or do in moments of frustration. 

2. Call/email home and let the parents know that their son or daughter is using class time to Insta-tweet-book instead of asking a question about the course content or getting in extra practice.
 If your student is obsessive about it in your room, their parents are probably equally annoyed by the behavior and they will no doubt have your back. Make sure you back up the threat, but in my experience, kids will do a lot to avoid an effective call/email home. 

3. Have a charging station in your room away from everyone's seat. 
I have a strip by my desk where kids can plug in their chargers and put it in a box.  Time/space to charge a device is a hot commodity in my buildings, and when its in the box, its not a student's desk, distracting them with notifications every 3 minutes. 

4. Give them something to do USING IT PRODUCTIVELY.
Recording audio notes, setting a reminder for homework, responding to a backchannel discussion, pulling up a video related to their work, sending them to a page like thatquiz.org with some readymade practice (math, science, and geography). Redirecting their thumb swiping to a positive activity is an easy redirect.

5. Start a conversation about your favorite educational/learning/productivity app.
Once I put the TED app on my class iPads, my favorite question has always been from students assuming it was related to a Seth McFarland movie by the same name. :) People don't know better until they know any better - maybe your student will delete one of their 5 messaging apps and make space for your recommendation. 

What else have you done effectively? Leave a comment!

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Thanks for sharing!