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What, if anything, can be done about the mobile phone 'addiction'??

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by crockedpot, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. crockedpot

    crockedpot New commenter

    I rely on my phone as much as anyone, but I am at the end of my rope regarding my student's obsessions with their phones.
    I teach in FE, so the 'rules' are not quite as clear cut, perhaps, as in schools.
    I spend a great deal of my teaching time telling people to put their phones away - they are, as far as I am concerned, nothing more than a distraction and a timewaster.
    Does anyone have any suggestions regarding how I could get learners to obey this very basic rule - switch it off and put it in your bag for the hour and a half you have to concentrate on retaking your GCSE subject?
    They can do it during the 3 hour controlled assessments so why not in lessons, when the option of simply taking the phones away is not an option?
  2. Landofla

    Landofla Established commenter

    I would straight up start with an agreed scheme, like the one my friends and I joke about where whoever looks at their phone first is the one who pays. No one looks at their phone.

    You could ask the chn to decide on the "penalty".
    Kartoshka likes this.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi crockedpot

    Thank you for posting your dilemma about mobile phones. I too think phones in classrooms are becoming a serious problem and the use of phones is a real addiction and the consequences are a bit frightening.

    Recently, I was covering a class of Year 11s who were revising for an assessment that they were soon to take. The cover notes said something along the lines that the teacher allowed the class to listen to music on their phones since it seemed to soothe them or make them more focuses, but it would be my call whether or not to allow them to use their phones. I decided to let them use the phones since if I had denied them, I would have had a riot. The teacher had set a precedent and I was unlikely to change things in a one hour lesson, but the result was this: most of the students instead of working used the phones to text their friends and mess about. 50% of the class did nothing. Result: students failing exams and having to retake them at your FE college and wasting more time and money.

    I agree with you : phones in classrooms are a massive distraction and time waster apart from their use to quickly look up definitions or pictures which are needed for something else.

    Does your FE college have a policy on the use of mobile phones in the classroom? What are the sanctions for refusing to follow the rules?

    I would be very firm with applying the college's rules and sanctions.

    Since you cannot take the phone away, what are the college's sanctions for breaking the rules regarding mobile phones? Are you at liberty to make your own rules? Since your class is 90 minutes. What you could do is have a five minute break after the first 45 minutes to let the students check their messages. I don't normally agree with even that, but if they are addicted, then you have to be somewhat flexible.

    I haven't worked in an environment outside self employment and supply teaching for some years now, so don't know what the rules might be if they were working. Surely, if they are in an office, they would not be allowed to just whip out their phones whenever they want.

    At the end of the day, at some point they have to decide whether they are going to get their GCSEs and if they are then the phones have to be put away. The thing is though, if they are truly addicted, how can you help them instead of punishing them?

    The time wasted in secondary schools due to mobile phone use is a terrible waste. I have said this before that if I were a head, I would not allow them on site, or at least lock them up at the beginning of the day and give them out at the end. I don't know how much time it would take and the manpower to do it, but I would find a way.
  4. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Does your college have a mobile phone policy? If so enforce it. Issue C4Cs if necessary.
    Some vocational lessons insist that all phones are handed in at the start of the lesson. If your learners are used to this in other lessons, adopt the procedure in your lessons.
    Otherwise, you could have a warning procedure. First time, put it away, second time put it away. The third time the phone appears the student makes the choice as to handing the phone in or leaving the lesson - with consequences if they choose to leave.
    Final alternative - smash all phones with a sledge hammer. Warning - there may be repercussions for you, but you will feel happier.
    crockedpot likes this.
  5. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Tell them to put it away and follow the same procedure if they disobey as you would for any other instance of refusal to follow a direct request.
    Dragonlady30 likes this.
  6. marrsy_2000

    marrsy_2000 New commenter

    I taught some adult learners last year. I thought I couldn't confiscate the phones as I would in a school setting so I had a discussion with them about how mobiles can be distracting. I asked how they would feel if I started checking my phone or took a call during our lesson. I then produced a small box and said during our lesson we are all going to put our phones on silent and in this box. I put mine in first and offered the box to the first student. He followed my example and as more did the same the peer pressure built up and all the phones ended up in the box.

    At the start of each lesson I would get the box out and it got to be a silly little routine we did. Ocassionlly one would try to hide their phone but the others thought it funny to "grass them up" until all were in the box.

    This might not work quite the same with younger FE students but worth a try. Security of all those valuable smartphones might also be an issue so you may need to lock them away and make sure the correct phone gets back to the correct person.

    I did hear of one teacher that said anyone using a phone had to read out their last 3 messages to the rest of the class. Could be really dodgy that one.
  7. crockedpot

    crockedpot New commenter

    Thanks all for your thoughts and suggestions. I am being really consistent with the rule and constantly reinforcing it but the problem is that though we do have a central policy (phones must be switched off during lessons) it is far from universally observed across college. I will keep plugging away at it and try some of the ideas posted here. Sadly, I think until the whole teaching team take the same approach, I am on a lone mission to break this behaviour.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi crockedpot

    You are definitely at a disadvantage if not everyone is following the school's policy.

    As you suggest it is an addiction and you only have to observe the corridors of some high schools: the mobile phones are in the left hands and appear glued to the palms allowing the students to text as they walk along to the next class. The problem is worse in some schools rather than in others, but as the years go it is increasingly more difficult to enforce the rules on phones. Teachers are so overworked anyway that turning a blind eye is sometimes the easiest option. Letting the students sit in form time on their phones with no adult input or activities to do doesn't help and I have seen this happen in some schools.

    I did like the post about putting all the phones in a box at the start of the lesson, but that is not teaching the students self-control - but I suppose that isn't your problem.

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