Respecting the Phone Policy

Jill Stevens, Staff Writer

New year, new cell phone policies. While every teacher has some sort of phone policy, it seems some teachers have opted for stricter policies this year. There are some students who absolutely despise the new polices, while others don’t care very much.

Teachers will introduce a phone policy in their classes for various reasons. It seems most have a policy simply because phones are a distraction; a distraction from the teacher’s instruction, from finishing work, and from interacting with each other. A sampling of some of the teachers that have a phone policy this year, includes: Mr. Vincent Lundin (a Spanish teacher), Mrs. Amanda Tibbitts (a language arts teacher), and Mrs. Angela Beatty (a math teacher).

This is Mr. Lundin’s first year with a phone policy requiring students to put their phones in a pocket during class. He says, “We (not just students) are distracted by our phones.” He felt like some students were always on their phones and he didn’t want to keep getting mad at them. He even puts his phone in a pocket because he admits he can be distracted if his phone is readily available to him. He says that without cell phones, students might talk a little more in class but he’s ok with that because they’re more “present.” He said, “It’s not like I’m punishing students, because I have the same problem. I love phones, they’re amazing – but they are a distraction.”

Most teachers make it mandatory to put your phone in a pocket during class, but there are some who have chosen to offer extra credit for handing over your phone. Mrs. Beatty has a voluntary phone policy because she said that kids were just on their phones the whole period. They’d try to pretend they weren’t on their phones, but she could tell they were. But still, she doesn’t like saying, “You have to do it,” so she gives extra credit as encouragement to put the phone in a pocket. She said, “I like the idea of giving extra credit for doing it – so it’s on your terms, not mine.”

Mrs. Tibbitt’s tried one year without a strict cell phone policy and then one year with a strict policy and found that the year she did the stricter policy, students spent more time engaging with their peers and spending more time on their assignments. This is because they didn’t have their phone immediately available to play with as soon as they finished. Also, at the end of last year (when she had a stricter policy) she gave the students a survey and asked them which policy they felt had been most helpful for them. The most popular answer was the stern cell phone policy. She says that a student’s behavior with the phone policy corresponds to that student asking for behavioral favors. For instance, if a student wanted to turn in an assignment late, she didn’t have to accept it. But if they had been putting their phone in the pocket and following the policy every day then they were giving her behavior that was worthy of an exception.

On the students side, many were only mildly bothered by a strict phone policy. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, admitted that it helps her to pay attention and focus, but it still bothered her because it’s her property. Another student (also anonymous) said that she feels like she’s being treated like a child or being punished because other kids can’t ignore their phones.

Three out of five students admit that they have a fear of not having their phone on them. One said she feels kind of naked without her phone and another student said she gets anxious without it. Another anonymous student said that she just feels weird if she can’t feel it or see it. Sophomore Shelby Birch said that she can live without it because, for example, she can’t use it anyway when she goes somewhere without service.

It can definitely be hard, but remember to stay off your phones during class and show some respect when the teacher is teaching. Cell phone policies are pretty necessary these days but it’s nice what Mrs. Beatty does because, as she put it, it’s on our terms, not hers. If your teacher has a cell phone policy, it’s probably for a reason – not just to make you miserable.