Monday, March 12, 2007

Cell Phones....

I thought about discussing this issue in a diplomatic way, but I decided that there are times that I do need to “be unreasonable”. Usually I am very easy going; I love to listen and help people, but when teachers are upset about kids having cell phones, I am often a little annoyed. I have studied leadership styles and do tend to favor Greenleaf’s servant leadership, focusing on listening and empathy, but when teachers complain about kids and their cell phones, while carrying their own in their pocket, it really irritates me. I do believe that there are some rules which are different for kids and adults, but not too many. I teach 50% of the time, so I’m not just sitting in my office telling teachers that it isn’t an issue. (I’m really not saying that’s what full time administrators doJ.)

I had my first student cell phone encounter about a year and a half ago, before there was any real discourse on the topic. The student’s phone rang, and he looked at me with sheepish eyes. I politely asked him if it was an emergency and he said not really. I told him that I didn’t want to see or hear it again in class, and if it was an emergency then he could leave it on and set it to vibrate. He could then be asked to be excused and he could take his call outside of the classroom. At that time his brother was involved in a serious court case. That was the end of that, and I know this boy still carries his phone every day to school. I have never had an issue with him again. (And as a VP, I deal with discipline; I’ve never heard of those behavior specialists… sigh)

I think that if we treat kids, regardless of their age, with respect, the same way that you or I want and expect to be treated, then they will. Of course, there will be times that they falter, the same way that we all can. I have engaged in regular discussions with kids regarding the use of cell phones, and they understand the issues better than we do. They don’t want people cheating and they don’t want their pictures/videos taken without permission any more than we do. In my classroom, we come up with the rules together, and then they help enforce them. I make it sound so simple, but it isn’t always this easy. I’ve been in a few debates with kids, but in the end we usually agree on the important issues.

Now, let’s hear yours.

4 comments:

B.Davis said...

I concur. I have also written about this topic on my blog and I have to say that it is hard for me to show empathy on this topic. As all things related to discipline, it comes down to respect; respect both ways. The attitude of "I am the adult and you are the child" does not work anymore with every issue. I have only been a full time administrator for 2 years, but in the affluent district in which I work, even our 2nd graders have cell phones. I have experienced teachers actually noticing a bulge in someone's pocket and asking them to hand over their phone. It is a battle that is not going to be won and the lesson should be about respect.

If you think about it, we introduce things like podcasts and blogging and wikis and we ask kids to "power down" when they come to school.

This does not mean that I advocate cell phones in the classroom but there is a way to carry a phone without showing disrespect. It's part of the maturing process and that should be our ultimate goal with our children.

Scott McLeod said...

As a school law guy, teachers asking students to display the bulges in their pockets makes me awfully nervous...

B.Davis said...

I agree- needless to say, looking for phones in that manner is not something that happens often, but it has happened recently and luckily it was taken in the context in which it was intended- funny the extremes people will go to though.

I am enjoying reading the commentary on LeaderTalk by the way.

Miss Profe said...

At my place of employ, there is a policy re:cell phones: no cell phone use during the school day. Most of the students are compliant. However, there are students who want to challenge authority, and see how far they can roll. The same is true with iPods.