- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.