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Tips for Setting Up a Classroom Cell Phone Policy

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In today’s world, every student has a cell phone. Check out these ideas for a cell phone policy for the classroom.

Tips for Setting Up a Classroom Cell Phone Policy

Should You Have a Cell Phone Policy?

If you are fortunate, your school or district already has a cell phone policy.

This takes the decision-making process out of your hands, and you can follow the preset procedures for violating the policy.

If you don’t have a school or district-wide policy, it is up to you to create your own classroom policy.

Some teachers try to limit cell phone use with a policy, while others do not.

If you don’t pay attention (for whatever reason), the natural consequence is a low grade.

As the teacher, you can decide whether or not to implement a cell phone use policy.

Tips for Setting Up a Classroom Cell Phone Policy

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Storing Cell Phones in the Classroom

Some teachers ask students to store their phones during class time.

Be advised that some schools have a policy that if you take the students’ cell phones, you are personally responsible for any theft, damage, or loss.

Make sure you ask your administration before you store student’s cell phones.

School Collects the Phones

If your school has a no cell phone use policy during school hours, this may be an option for you.

Students turn in their phones during homeroom, and a bin of phones is sent to the office.

At the end of the school day, the phones are redistributed to the students.

Voluntary Charging Station

If you want to make cell phone surrendering voluntary, provide a charging block for students.

Many students are happy to hand over their cell phones if they are returned fully charged.

Calculator Holder or Shoe Holder

Place a numbered calculator holder or shoe holder at the front of the classroom or behind your desk.

A phone fits perfectly in these pouches.

Each student has a corresponding number. They can collect their phones at the end of class.

Tips for Setting Up a Classroom Cell Phone Policy

Cell Phone Lockbox

To securely store phones, use a lockbox bin.

Students can see their phones, but no one can access them without you entering the code.

Pouches or Boxes on the Desk

If you don’t want to take the students’ phones away (and be personally responsible for them), you can ask students to store their phones.

Try a clear zippered pencil pouch or a clear pencil box.

Have the student place the bin or pouch on top of their desk so you can see they are stored.

Place in Bookbags and Store in Front of the Room

What materials do your students need for class?

Have them remove those materials from their book bags. Then, ask them to keep their bookbags at the front of the room.

They can keep their phones in their bags for all of class or until you permit them to use them.

Set the Example

If you ask students to follow a policy for limited or no cell phone use, make sure you follow the policy as well.

If you must access your cell phone, explain to the students why that would be (communication with the office, etc.).

Tips for Setting Up a Classroom Cell Phone Policy

Limiting the Use of Cell Phones

Many classrooms require cell phones for access to digital materials.

You can’t ask students to surrender their phones for the whole class, but you can use these methods to limit their use.

Phone Light

Keep a light on your desk.

When you want students’ undivided attention (for example, when presenting a lesson), turn on the light.

That signals to the students that they should not be on their phones.

When the light is off, they are allowed to use their phones.

Face Down on Top of Desk

A simple and easy way to ensure students use their phones only when permitted is to ask them to keep their phones face down on their desks.

If they look at their phone when it is not permitted, slide the phone into a paper lunch bag and staple it closed.

Return it to the student’s desk.

Inspect the bag at the end of class to ensure it is unopened.

Alternatively, you can move the phone to your desk during class.

No Scrolling

If students need to access their phones for assignments (or even play music during quiet work), allow them to use their cell phones.

Institute a “no scrolling rule.” A glance or playing music to earbuds is fine.

Store Only for Quizzes and Tests

Phones present a temptation to cheat on tests.

Ask students to store their phones on a shelf or in pouches only during quizzes and tests.

Tips for Setting Up a Classroom Cell Phone Policy

Setting Up Cell Phone Use Incentives

Instead of demanding students give up their phones, provide incentives if they do it voluntarily.

Charging Station

As mentioned before, set up a charging station at the front of the room.

Bonus Points

Have students place their phone in a baggie with their name on it and put it in a bin on your desk.

Give the student two unweighted points per day for storing their phone.

This won’t make a huge impact, but with total compliance, it could boost the student’s grade by 3%.

Tips for Setting Up a Classroom Cell Phone Policy

Issuing Cell Phone Use Consequences

What do you do if students fail to comply with your cell phone use policy? Here are some possible consequences.

No Attendance

If you store your students’ phones in the numbered calculator or shoe pouch, you can take attendance by designating a specific number for each student.

Attendance is a mental as well as a physical state. No cell phone in the pouch, no attendance.

No Participation Points

If the student does not turn in their cell phone (or you catch them using it), they receive 0 participation points that day.

Remove to Your Desk

You can confiscate a phone if a student violates your cell phone policy.

One option is to store the phone in a locked drawer of your desk.

You may require that a parent retrieve it.

Call the Parents on the Spot

If a student uses a phone during class time, call their parent on the spot (even if it is in the middle of instruction time).

Have the parent talk to the student for a few minutes.

Remove to the Office

If it is school policy, you can send the phone (or the student) to the office.

The parent must retrieve the confiscated phone, or the student receives it after serving a detention.

Tips for Setting Up a Classroom Cell Phone Policy

Creating a Classroom Cell Phone Policy

Whatever your classroom cell phone policy, make sure you clearly communicate it to both parents and students.

Have clearly defined procedures, incentives, and consequences.

Cell phones aren’t going anywhere, so you must decide on a policy that suits you and serves your students.

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