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Banning The Use Of Cellphones in the Classroom

Updated on January 18, 2015

Studying for Finals

Studying for Class back in 2009
Studying for Class back in 2009

What's Your Classroom Policy?

Are you a teacher in need of help in reducing cell phone activities in your classroom? Are you tired of the unwanted distractions? The key to reducing classroom cell phone activity is achieved when, students are made acutely aware of how their cell phone use affects those around them. Followed by making them accountable for their cell phone activity.

According to Sydney Fulbright, PhD students underestimated the number of times they accessed their phones while in class. I can believe that wholeheartedly, and when you combined that reality to recent data complied by The Teaching Professor newsletter study, 98% of college students polled admitted that they have texted in class. According to Maryellen Weimer, PhD., "56% of the cohorts said they were currently taking a class in which the teacher banned texting. While 49% said they texted anyway."

Can you say, "WOW!"?

Banning Mobile Phones in College Classes

Have you ever been in a classroom, where the cell phone jabber and text messaging buzzers, beeps, or vibrations get so distracting that the teacher is force to take away, every bodies' mobile devices? Well I have, and let me tell you this- there is something to be said about cell phone usage, when a teacher is forced to pass around a basket, in order to collect peoples' cell phone/mobile devices. If that was not bad enough, more should be said as to why this teacher then had to spend the next 30 minutes of class time, explaining to individual students that their mobile device would be returned to them at the end of class. How ridiculous is that?

Back in 2009, my Surgical Technology training was costing me $12,000.00 to attend. It was an eleven month, accelerated program where every minute of classroom time, was being spent on something of relevance to that career training practicum. It's not like any of us, in the program, had many opportunities to daydream without missing out on something important. Something ironically, potentially life altering or life threatening. For example, the day the cell phone basket was passed around the class, the subject for the day was Neurology and Neurological procedures. Speaking from experience- I cannot find the words, to explain how disarming it is to be in the middle of a cranial fracture on a 3 year old, asked a question by the attending surgeon and not know what something is anatomically, because your classmate, sitting next to you the previous day, was fighting with her boyfriend. Do you think the surgeon cared what the fight was about she was having or that you; actually do keep your cell phone locked in the car during class? Hell no! Needless to say, it was not my finest hour...

The Common Misnomer of Educators

Respect! Respect! Respect..., rather the lack there of in my personal opinion, is the most common misnomer teachers have about adult students. Yes, I agree- you'd think that adult students would have a maturity level greater than most adolescent children, and thus, be capable of implementing self-discipline, and show their fellow classmates mutual respect in learning. WRONG answer, WRONG school of thought, wrong, wrong, wrong!!!

My personal experiences with adult students, have lead me to believe that there are not too many differences between adolescent and adult students. The most common behavioral familiarities, which I noticed the most were; talking out loud or out of turn, loud yawning sounds, and social giggling or whispering. Whereas adolescent students might create unnecessary racket by passing notes to a friend or even "pssst'ing" loudly to get the attention of their comrade; adult students have tinker apps called "Candy Crush," or other low-level, background noise emanating from their cell phone device. Moreover, the fact that it doesn't seem to matter if it was the teacher citing lecture, a professional job recruiter speaking on experience, or a community action leader talking about the need for FEMA volunteers; class time, was chatter time and chatter time, was class time. Here's what I mean by that...

One day, we were having a lecture about Orthopaedic fixation screws and pins for certain types of bone breaks and fractures. By coincidence, one of my classmates happens to be a former elementary school teacher. Coach Georgia was MY second and third grade P.E. teacher. She was a real ball-breaker back in the late 1970s, and I remember her loving to make us stand out in the heat of a hot, Missouri, August, day if we were too noisy during PE class. She would make us run laps around the kick ball playground, in 95+ degree temperatures. It was just miserable. Well..., guess who was sharing Facebook photos through her cell phone, to two other students sitting next to her in class? You could see her pointing and scrolling up and down through her Facebook account, using her smart phone, during the class lecture, which ironically the teacher had stop doing to confront Georgia about it. "Seriously?", I thought to myself.

I bit my tongue that day even though, I really wanted to badly say, "What the _____, Coach? Can't you just shut up already?! Not all of us here, has our schooling paid for by the government!"

Devised Reduction of Cellphone Usage Ideas:

-Dismiss a student early from class for the day, when they're caught texting or inappropriately using their cell phone in class.

-Give student a pop quiz on subject matter. (No grade will be asset)

-Make students write an essay on "How students are distracted when students text in class, and how studies show that others are affected." Make the respect and accountability essay due the next class period, and implement a 10% grade clause.

-Implement a "3 strikes your out" mandate policy, and include it your class syllabus and class room handbook.

-Have students sign a cell phone/mobile device agreement.

-Adults who behave like children, get placed in the designated "Cell phone Time-Out Chair."

Government Paid College Tuition vs Cash Out-of-Pocket Paid College Tuition

I think there is a lot to be said about that too, "government paid tuition" students vs. "cash out-of-pocket paid tuition" students. Maybe that is where some of the real differences stem from. Now I am not at all saying that everyone who receives government aid are bad students. I am not implying that all. What I am saying is that in Vocational training programs, which mine was that there were/are a lot of people, who may not apply themselves as completely as maybe someone paying for the class, on their own might. That I am saying. It's free money, right? And..., in so many ways, a hand out of sorts that ultimately has zero accountability attached to it and sadly never needs to be repaid by the person. There is something to be said when something is given for nothing and nothing in return is expected.

At least in the case of my particular class, this was very much the case. Out of 19 government paid tuition students, only 5 of those students passed the certification test to become a Certified Surgical Technologist. The two students who were self paid, not only passed the test, they became employed Certified Surgical Technologist within two weeks of graduating the program and one of those students, graduated with top honors. Maybe teachers should consider putting in a balanced teaching strategy in situ just for those students, who are there of their own accord and financial affirmation. Whatever the case may be, the students who paid for their tuition without any government aid, didn't have their cell phones placed on top of their notebooks.

But let's stick to what we do know for certain, and that is listening can be hard work to begin with without all the added distractions of cell phone chatter. It is a known fact that most students, only retain 20% of what they hear in a lecture. Leaving the eighty percent to be learned by reading, researching and studying. Listening at anytime, I find to be a difficult challenge. I especially have problems completely listening, if there is constant sound muffling overtures, drowning out the teachers voice.

I cannot even been to imagine, being one of the teachers, who had taught that class all year. I honestly do not believe that there is a dollar amount, that would make me want to be a teacher nowadays. Kids are bad enough but, if my class; consisting of students over the age of 18, was any indication of what goes on in the adult classroom these days, they're definitely under paid. For example, allow me to provide you with a little excerpt from my personal journal, which I wrote after training one day towards the end of the program (July 2010). Now keep in mind, I was one of 2 students of a surgical technology class consisting of 21 students in all, who was actually paying for the surgical technology training and program, completely out-of-their own pocket.

Yesterday at Clinicals (which are held at a hospital)- I was the only student who showed up completely dressed out, in my surgical scrub attire and ready to work on time. I don't get that. Especially since on Wednesday, we get an extra hour to be ready, which is 7:30a.m. verses 6:30a.m. Out of eleven adult students practicing at the hospital where I'm at now, only one shows up on time??? One!......., me. I am so embarrassed. I hate feeling like the super-dubber geek, and class brown-noser. Did nobody hear Jane say, be here, dressed and ready? Am I just dreaming this shit or what? Now they'll really give me shit for being the "over-achiever." Two more weeks and I am outta here........., done! I am tired of feeling like the know it all girl from the Harry Potter books, Herminia Granger.

Nevertheless, it is becoming quite clear to me that most adults students, have lost the real definition of class room respect, and replaced the original meaning with their own, individually defined meanings. Combined that with a horrible work ethic, and an unlimited data plan, people like myself don't stand a chance. Let's face it, technology has its advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to the classroom however, for me the disadvantages of cellphone usage in the classroom, out number the advantages by a considerable margin. I get the feeling that some disrespectful behavioral patterns were inadvertently developed when certain advances were being made in technology (text messaging, voice to text, wifi, bluetooth, game apps). I can slightly (but barely) understand it when my "twenty-something" classmates got a text in class and talk about it openly but, what about the Coach Georgia's out there? There is simply no excuse for that type of disrespectful behavior coming from a former school teacher, such as Coach Georgia. Who by the way is in her upper 50ty's lower 60ty's. She was old enough to be a retired school teacher, and was my P.E. coach from 1978-1980. It is my direct conclusion that so-called adult students, are not so adult at all. With this all said, I hated going back to school later in life. I hate the fact it appears that maybe cell phones, have led to a downfall in how people act and conduct themselves in public. I truly feel that mobile devices have taken over the classroom, and feel that teachers must insist going back to pen and paper. I hope that in the future teachers begin to devise teaching strategies that get mobile devices such as personal cell phones out of their classrooms, so us private paying students can sit back and be allowed to listen to a lecture, we've paid hard earn money for. How hard can this be?


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Website Examiner 6 years ago

    I enjoyed reading this. It is well-written, a personal perspective with some vivid descriptions. Seems you have given the subject some thought.

  • IntimatEvolution profile image

    Julie Grimes 7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

    Thanks Hon! I greatly appreciate you and our friendship.

  • profile image

    kimberlyslyrics 7 years ago

    Intimate I can't even begin to imagine the stress, like the world and life isn't enough. Having not passed after grade 8 I really can't relate but now have a better understandings of what you go through.

    I think your awesome, just even for the fact I can't believe everything you juggle and yet stay true to yourself.

    Proud to be a friend


  • IntimatEvolution profile image

    Julie Grimes 7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

    Oh yeah, I feel for her. I hate group projects!!! We even had to take a "group" test. The group was made up of 3 indiv. One smart person, not so smart person, and one class idiot. And to answer a question, there had to be a group consensus. Needless to say, it is still my lowest grade ever! Why did I have to leave my test answers up to the class clown and the village idiot? Oh I was pissed! Still am, if you couldn't tell. However, our grade helped them to pass the class. So they were thrilled. Irony.

  • BJBenson profile image

    BJBenson 7 years ago from USA

    I know you'll make it. My husband is on his last two classes. He is going to school on line. So is my oldest, Raven. She hates doing group projects because she feels like she the one who does all the work.

    Good luck!

  • IntimatEvolution profile image

    Julie Grimes 7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

    Yeap, I think you are absolutely correct. Great line of thought.

  • mikicagle profile image

    mikicagle 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    And we wonder why children behave so badly and are disrespectful when all they are actually doing is emulating their parents poor behavior.

  • IntimatEvolution profile image

    Julie Grimes 7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

    Bob, I never thought about the church thing. That is pretty bad. Deborah you are right on about adults, and mrsmillich I'm glad we think alike.

    I think all of us "do gooders" need some good luck cheer, once in a while to help get us through. Today was a typical day- but you can tell I've just about had enough. July 26th, cannot get here soon enough.

  • Deborah Demander profile image

    Deborah Demander 7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

    I know exactly how you feel. I thought it was just me being old. Adults are the rudest, most inconsiderate bores out there. We are why children have no manners. I hate it when I'm at lunch with my friends, and they are texting away under the table, ummmm.... I thought we were having a conversation. Is it that attention spans are much shorter? Or maybe common courtesy has flown the coop.

    Great hub.


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    Robert E Smith 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

    You are brave to go back to school at any age. I admire and respect you for trying. My wife is now trying to go and it is hard. It is too hard for me and almost too hard the first time. As for the cell phones, what happens when the ringing and talking occurs in church and you're supposed to love those folks? I tell you, you look at them and wonder, "what is your problem?" Please keep at it and don't let the KIDS get you down. Remember you were a kid once and though you don't remember being too obnoxious, chances are you may have been a little. I will pray for you and think of you often as my wife struggles with the same things. Love you Julie.

  • mrsmillich profile image

    mrsmillich 7 years ago from New York

    Ha! I know how you feel! My schooling does not cost nearly what yours does, but it irritates me nonetheless when people distract me during class. Talking out loud while someone else is talking drives me freaking crazy!!!

    Good rant, hope the situation improves soon (although I wouldn't get my hopes up).