A typical, cell phone scene in my classroom, during testing.
This September, I changed my Course Outlines to officially state that my classes were a BYOD-learning friendly environment. I did this for a few reasons.
First of all, I figured that if, as a student in a Masters of Educational Technology couldn’t find a way to successfully integrate this technology– this pretty amazing technology– into the classroom, then perhaps my admission should be revoked.
Secondly, every time I allow students to actually use their phones during class time, engagement seems to increase. Admittedly, this is observational, on my part.
Thirdly, it makes my “cool” factor incrementally increase every time we use technology effectively. (I do care about this, for some reason. It is the same reason why I still have my tongue pierced. #streetcred )
Lastly, incorporating a technology that for many high school students is more like a body part, than a piece of equipment, allows me to temporarily “sneak” into their world. As a digital shepherd, I feel that this is an imperative component of my job— to make my students believe that I am not a complete Luddite, and that I can actually help them with their on-line development. (I suppose this is somewhat the same point as the former— #morestreetcred)
I am fortunate to teach at a school that allows staff to have their own “mobile use policy”. Many teachers out-right ban the phones from their classes. Not that students don’t sneak use anyway. (There is a hilarious image I put on my desk top at the beginning of every semester– see below)
With that said, I am a firm believer in standing up for what you believe in. If someone doesn’t want phones in their room, then that is fine with me. Most educators and parents learn pretty early on that you have to pick your fights and if phones is a fight you like, then fight away! Our school quickly abandoned the cell phone fight, however.
The policy was a four-step process.
One: Warning given
Two: Take phone for the duration of the class.
Three: Bring phone to administrator for the duration of the day.
Thankfully, the “school-wide” policy has gone extinct. Handcuffing teachers to one, blanket mobile policy only serves to clip the wings of those wanting to soar to new places in education. This week, I have “Gone Google” in my classes for the very first time. Being only two days into Google Classroom, class blogs and personal blogs, I’m am unsure how my students will feel about this new way. I am not using Google for everything, but as I become more comfortable, I am certain that both my teaching and student learning will become more dynamic, engaging and overall, more awesome.
On the other hand, when students self-report to text message over 500 times per day, I think that non-ed-tech teachers have every reason to be wary. In my last week of semester one, I caught a student cheating on his test with his phone up his sleeve. Recent articles have also come out detailing a new epidemic– students are not allowing themselves to be bored any more. This brings an entire host of issues surrounding creativity and lack thereof. For me, phones are like my students themselves! Sometimes I want to high five them, sometimes I want to hug them, and other times I want to toss them over a cliff! Figuratively speaking, OF COURSE.