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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Suggestions Welcome

I need your assistance, peeps. But before you read further, I do not seek running advice for the conundrum below, so if that's what you wanna dispense, you'll have to return another day. No, today I need advice on a teaching issue (that I also think has larger social implications as well, so it may be relevant to the audience at large).

See, as each year and each semester passes, I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated and, to be honest, downright angry about cell phone use during class. To me, it's very rude and disrespectful behavior and even though I know I shouldn't take it personally, I do. Students are so attached to their phones these days (I know, I know, using that very phrase ages me about 50 years) that they are reluctant to abide by my policy to have them shut off and stow away their phones during class. Instead, their phones often ring in class, (and on Monday a girl even got up and left class to answer her phone!), and they receive and send text messages during class (they think I don't see them, but I do).

Now, I've tried a variety of approaches: I "embarrass" them (mostly means that I tell them to put the phone away in front of the class), I have asked students to leave (and thus mark them absent), and I have deducted points from their grade. But nothing really seems to entirely work. Thus, I am seeking creative suggestions to encourage students to not use their phones in ANY capacity during class -- you can offer up a suggestion that has a negative or positive reinforcement, or if you have another creative idea that offers something "outside the box," I am open to those as well.

I'm just getting to the point where I want to have some kind of remote zapper that shocks them every time they touch their phones during class, and that's not a good feeling to have. So, give me your ideas! I need some assistance here.


Doug said...

Well, playing off of your idea.. you could get a tazer?

I agree its a big problem. The only time I get mine out in class is to check if I really did turn it to silent. I'm a good kid, really! It annoys the crap out of me when others do the same.

One of my professors makes fun of the ring tone whenever a phone rings, you could try that to further embarrass them?

Another prof. of mine has a system that really works well, I think. The first day of class he lists off a lot of general rules. Then, he strongly enforces a few of them (i.e. really going off on people who are late), as a result people follow all of them.

You could also try 'confiscating' it to the front of the classroom if it goes off during class. Or answering it for them.

I think embarrassment is the way to go, when points aren't doing the trick.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Oh. My. God. I had no idea it had come to this. Brazen, bold, rude, take your pick. I am floored.

How about instead of thinking out of the box....IN A BOX. All cells go in a box. If they don't comply and one goes off, you keep it until next class and put it in the box for them.

If you see someone using one, take it to the front?

I do like the one Doug said too, answer it?

I have no idea the implications or how far you can go but I think you ought to crack down hard. Now I probably sound old. :D

mh said...

cell phone jammer? It would be great if you could get one that just covers your classroom.

runner26 said...

I am shocked that they think it is okay to use phones in class. Isn't there something called cell phone etiquette? Perhaps when you are establishing your expectations/rules/etc, mention that you find cell phone usage of any kind during class rude, imappropriate, and immature (or something along those lines). Remind them that they are "big kids"/adults, whatever and that they should be aware that their behavior in that regard is unacceptable. Hopefully they will see that you are serious and will respect you. If they have (pardon the expression) the balls to use their phones after all that and you catch them, take them away until after class. That's got to be embarrassing! Especially if they are "big kids."

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

What age group do you teach that allows cell phones in school? Are you a college professor?

Diana said...

I can feel your pain. There are a few students who sit in the back of class and text on their cells for the entire duration of the class. I agree that it's ridiculous.

I also agree with the others that you should go as far as you can. The ONLY time a phone should be touched is if a student has an emergency and lets you know he or she might need to answer their phone. (In my masters program we have a lot of parents, so it happens occasionally.)

Make it as significant a portion of the grade as possible, and do whatever it takes. I would confiscate phones that you see being used during class at least until the end of class. If they don't turn them in to you, kick them out of the class and mark them absent and dock their grades.

We have the same issue with laptops. I use mine during class to save on paper by not printing stuff and because I HATE writing out notes. But others are shopping and on AIM and myspace during class, and unfortunately I get lumped in as disrespectful with them, which sucks. You'd think in a masters program people would have more respect for the fact that they are paying for these classes and actually pay attention, but no. We actually had one girl get up from class, walk out, and return 30 minutes later with a late from the coffee shop down the street.

I don't think that you are at all out of line at all to really crack down on it.

brunettechicagogal said...

Once again, another reason I loved teaching at the K-12 level: Cellphones not allowed in school!

As for the laptop issue that another poster brought up, that stuff goes on in doctoral programs, too. Ebay, MySpace, email...you name it, and I've seen my peers on those sites during class. It's unbelievable.

My suggestion may seem a bit militant, but I think I'd explain how you're feeling and require everyone to either leave their phone in their bag or bring it up to your desk for the duration of class. I see that a few others suggested this, too. And if anyone dissents, they can be invited to not attend class. I don't think it's their god-given right to be there if they're not abiding by the rules of the class, not to mention common flippin courtesy.

Fuckers. I hate rudeness.

ws said...

I have no reasonable feedback to offer. Once I had 18 unruly second grade boys in a swim class and I made them each sit 8 feet apart at the poles of the fence surrounding the pool. That was quite torturous for them. Amusing for me, though.

Perhaps ask them all to leave their belongings at one side of the room before sitting at their desks. That's what my advisor did during exams to prevent (some) cheating.

Shannon said...

I don't really have the cell phone issue with my kindergartners, unless you count the toy variety. As for toys, they have one chance to put it away or I take it away. Obviously, there are some major tantrums when that happens. I bet you might have some tantrums too if you tried that approach!

Loved the pic of Scooter by the way. Can't wait to get my Christmas card!

Erin said...

I suggest you tell us when your class is and let us call you while you are teaching. The first call can be a short interruption where you say, "oh, I am teaching class. Can I call you back later." The next call you could talk a little longer and keep the trend going. Some student will be brazen enough to tell you they are paying you to teach them, not talk on your cell phone. That's your moment to say "no shit fuckers, put your God damn cell phones away. I catch you, you lose your free makeup paper and it counts as one absence."

Or, just put the fear of God in them like I did when I used to teach skating. You talk or move from the boards before I say it is ok, I call you out, embarrass you, or kick you off the ice. I am the teacher, hear me roar.

Yeah, my term ended today. Can you tell I have no patience for slacker or rude students? Good luck! (PS-does your school have a policy on it? It might be nice to get a student movement going on it or assign it as a topic paper to write about during your first lesson. Then you can discuss the pros and cons and come up with a classroom rule that the students feel they had a say in.)

Froyd said...

I hear ya sister, I have the SAME problem, it's pretty insane.

I think I'm going to treat cell phone use as an attendance issue. If they're using them in class, then they're not in class learning. Hence, they're not there, period.

As such, the next semester that I have the students will be told on the first day that cell phone use will net them an unexcused absence and they will be told to leave class. And then I will point them to the policy that says that unexcused absences in total of however many will give you the right to drop them from the class. Out here, it's 8 days for a 5 day a week course before you drop them.

It's tough, because its kind of assholish, but thems the breaks.

J~mom said...

Would you believe that it's been so long since I taught that the problem we faced was with pagers? At the high school level we were allowed to confiscate them but then you have a certain liability with the item itself. One time I had a student steal another student's pager right out from under my nose. Ey yi yi. I don't miss that part of teaching at all.

My father recently retired after teaching for 30+ years at Arizona State. He had an awesome evil eye that would freeze any student in their tracks. He was really bothered by people who read other books or newspapers while he was teaching. He would simply stop what he was doing and just stare until the person gave him their full attention.

I think the idea of giving absences for cell phone violations is a great idea. I don't know how else you could combat it at the college level.

BTW, what is the school policy where you teach?

Laura N said...

OMG I love Erin's idea! The good news is you're close to the end of this term, right, so you can start fresh next semester and lay down the law. Hope you got some good ideas here.... good luck!

miss petite america said...

i support tasering.

if i see that a customer is on the phone when he sits down, i refuse to take their order. if they get mad, i tell them, i didn't want to be rude and disturb them.

maybe, next time, when you see someone on the phone, you stop class, and sit there silent until that person finishes their business. i'm sure the class will take notice, and when you have their attention you can give them a lesson on etiquette and explain the rules.

michelle said...

I've had to take cell phones away from 9th graders in a computer applications class. You'd think they'd try to sneak some porn on the internet or something while my back was turned, but no, they sit they're and text away. I'm all for tazering!

David said...

I would freakin lose my mind if that happened to me. I personally would have a zero policy for phone usage and ringing in class, and if one were to be used or ring aloud, it would be on the desk until after class. And I would probably answer it if it rang again on the desk, completely embarassing the student in the process, if it were at all possible within facility rules.

How do you handle sleepers? We had and instructor in Navy EOD school that told us in the beginning of the course that he would never wake us up if we fell asleep (we had very long days) and were too immature to simply stand and stay awake. Instead, he would speak quieter and allow the sleeper to continue, and absolutely not help them catch up on what they missed.

I guess, simply, I would say that it's your class room, and they need to respect you for that period of time in your class. If they can't, then they need to drop the class and try again with someone else. I would bet there are other students that are distracted by the disturbance that would appreciate it.

But, I'm kind of a d1[k like that.

David said...

And by "desk," I mean your desk, not theirs.

Another option would be, at the beginning of the term, explain your policy and stipulate that any phone usage during class would require an original composition on the development of the cell phone. Of course, becomming part of their grade. :-)

s1n said...

There's a real simple, passive agressive solution that will take care of this matter.

As the instructor (I assume college level), you can kick someone out of your class. Immediately force them to leave the class. Fill out a class drop form and turn it in for them next time it happens (and kick them out after you hand them their copy of the form).

I've seen it before and it gets the message across that this kind of behavior is not acceptable. I assume this is undergraduate level as well, because if it were graduate, you should be able to expect much more out of your students.

Wes said...

I go through this same BS at my restaurant. Can't keep the employees off their cell phones. *sigh*.

If cell phone use is disruptive, then ask them to leave. If its not...

Marcy said...

OMG I would bring in the taser!! That shiz would ANNOY the heck out of me!! I like a lot of the suggestions that were given and I'd probably opt for militant route myself. Take em away baby!! Take em away!!

keith said...

I think the signal jammers are getting cheaper and cheaper. People use them in theatres all the time.

Won't be long before an entire generation is completely illiterate because of texting and general laziness.

Now get off my lawn. Jesus I sound like my dad.

Mendy said...

These are all far better suggestions than I can come up with. While reading the post, I actually thought of the box idea that Nancy mentioned. Have everyone drop the cell in it, and get it afterwards.

I like to see the students commenting to that it annoys them, so at least you know that some parents did a great job at teaching them to be considerate and not rude.

Tough one Jess, but with your clever mind and blog friends, I'm sure you'll find a way to stop this crap.

mh said...

... looking into cell phone jammers for just a few minutes on the internet, I see they are illegal to use in the US. Seemed like a good idea (to me) at first glance.