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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Continued Contemplation of Cell Phones

Good suggestions concerning the post below; here are some of my responses:
  1. I can't confiscate a student's phone. That's their personal property, and at the college level, I have no authority to take their possession, even if it were only for the duration of the class.
  2. Currently, the college has no behavioral policy regarding cell phone use (although my guess is that we're about a year away from composing one); right now, most instructors treat cell phones under the general "disruptive student" policy the college has which allows an instructor to ask a student who is a disruption to the class to leave and to mark him/her absent.
  3. My syllabus describes cell phone use under my "student conduct" section and essentially I say that it won't be tolerated -- just like rude language or other offensive behavior -- however, I don't have a "consequence" spelled out in my syllabus if they violate this policy (for years, just stating it worked fine -- but also for years, my evil eye and my stopping class to stare at them worked as well, but now? not so much).
  4. I was trying to think of some kind of positive reinforcement that might encourage them to leave their phone alone. My best idea, I think, was to track how many days in a row they could go without anyone using a cell in any capacity -- because anymore, it's really about the texting, not the ringing -- and it would be like jobs where they track a certain number of days without an accident; I could set a goal number of days and if they achieved that, I would reward them with something. Then, if someone was responsible for breaking that pattern and ruining their record, the class would berate that person, and I wouldn't have to. But my husband said I shouldn't reward them for doing something they should already know better not to do. Plus, it would be a lot of work on my end to track that for 6 classes.
  5. In the end, after reading your suggestions, reading some material I researched about the issue (apparently a concern at colleges across the country), and discussing it with my husband, I think the most viable solution is to make cell phone use an absence.
  6. And yes, it's too late in this semester to change a policy so I am looking to rewrite that section of my syllabus for next semester's courses.
  7. It's tiresome to have to spend my energy focusing on etiquette when students should already know what kind of behavior is rude and obnoxious, but I suppose, that's just the way it is. But for those of you who are parents? Please, please, please, reinforce basic manners in your children: they'll be such better adults.

Again, thanks for your input -- you guys had some forceful opinions on the topic! -- and it helps to know that I'm not the only one who finds this behavior unacceptable.


David said...

I guess I wonder what constitutes "confiscation" in a situation like this. If you don't have definitive possession, but neither do they, and the location of the property is in plain sight, is it confiscation?

Doug said...

I agree with your husband, don't reward them for doing something that is common sense. "Good job, you didn't use the F word in class today. You get candy." That just doesn't make sense.

You say it is "in the syllabus," but do you really hammer it into their heads? Make sure they know how much it pisses you off. And remind them not to piss off the person who determines their grades; and their future.

Marcy said...

Darn!!! That's too bad that you can't take them. But I do think it's a great idea to count it as an absence.

It totally sucks that you have to keep after them for common courtesy *sigh*

J~mom said...

I think trying to reward them would create way too much work on your part, like you said. Sounds like you came up with a good solution. Let us know how it goes next semester.

I am working on my kids, I promise. ;>)

RunningCrazyAfter3 said...

I agree with Lisa that your plan sounds like a solid one. I also think, like Doug mentioned, that you really need to drill it into their heads that this is not a rule you are willing to give on.

I am always constantly amazed at how some parents choose to raise their children. I know mine would have knocked my block off if I used a phone in some of the situations I have witnessed teens using them!

Diana said...

I agree that the reward system seems like a lot of work for you, and it seems so juvenile. Though I guess if the shoe fits... Anyway, Hopefully this will be addressed by school policy, and maybe next year it won't be such a big issue.

It would be really cool if there was a way to block cell phones in just the actual classrooms.

p.s. Marley is a german shepherd/lab/husky mix. :-)

Viv said...

At a college level they should have some manners. UGH! It is just rude. I promise I am teaching my child some manners. I hope the new system works for you. I read they are trying to allow cell phone use on planes while in flight. I would take the nearest fire exit.

Diana said...

Okay, so I was just in class and the professor is standing at the podium lecturing along with a power point. A cell phone starts ringing. We all look around. After a few seconds, the professor states "that's just my phone, I'll just let it ring and keep going."
It is easily the 5-6th time this has happened this semester.
Guess sometimes professor's aren't any better than their students.

keith said...

I think it's ridiculous that we have to "reward" young adults (who ought to know better) when they manage to do something that isn't obviously rude and inconsiderate.

Texting or talking, unless it's a "how to use your cell phone" class it doesn't belong in class. Looks like you came up with a good solution. Don't let them whine their way out of it when you bring the hammer down.

Anonymous said...

My brother-in-law has the same problem. Good luck.

brunettechicagogal said...

I was always against the whole positive reinforcement thing, even as a high school teacher. In fact, Alfie Kohn wrote a whole book about it called "Punishment by Reward," detailing the harm we do our children by promising them something, like candy, for good behavior.

No, I'm more about punishment by PUNISHMENT. Sadist that I am. Clear consequences are important to establish from the get-go, so I say to put it in the syllabus and go over it the first, second and third times your class meets (in case some people aren't there for the first few class meetings). I once took a class at a gym with this instructor who, before every class, would say, "Now, I know it's hard to believe that people could be so rude, but I've had to ask people to shut off their cell phones and to not text message their friends during my class. Yes, I know, can you believe it? So I'm just putting it out there so we're all clear: Please do not do those things during my class, or I'll have to ask you to leave." And no one DARED to cross him, ever.

Jes said...

I thought of you (well, this post) yesterday while I was confiscating stickers from my kindergarten students. It doesn't matter what age the students are, there's always something to distract them and drive the teacher crazy!

Laurel said...

I couldn't agree with you more on the "manners" issue. It is by far my biggest pet peeve and living in South Florida only makes it worse.'

J has these same issues with his students and he has a lot of athletes in his classes, which sometimes makes it even worse (not all the time, but sometimes).

He hasn't come up with a solution either. I like the absence idea. Just make sure to stress it at the begining of class, that way you wont have 30 students at the end of the quarter trying to fight you on it with. "I didn't know you were SERIOUS about that!"