Phones in the classroom

photo of person using smartphone displaying rachael crouch calling
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I’m back on educational technology, and specifically phones in the classroom.  I’ll get back to book reviews soon (I’m reading a great wolf book and can’t wait to blog about it), but I saw this article posted by former colleague and Latin teacher extraordinaire, Steve Prince: How to Eliminate Cell Phone Use in the Classroom.

We just need to be done with phones in the classroom for several reasons:

  1.  Our students are addicted to their phones–literally addicted.  Students are anxious if they have to go an hour (or 5 minutes) without checking updates–whether that be social media, texts, or even news.
  2. They’re a distraction to learning.  Even when students are not using/have access to a phone, they’re thinking about it–which means they’re not thinking about whatever task they should be engaged with.
  3. They’ve come to think of any moment of “down time” in the classroom—even a 30 second break to stretch, talk to another student, notice the sunshine streaming in the windows—as “legit” time to check their phone. So they miss a conversation with a classmate, they miss the sunshine, they miss an opportunity to give their bodies, minds, and eyes a needed break. So much learning can happen through casual conversation, but currently, if there is no specific task using every minute, students go straight to their phone.
  4. We do not need them as learning tools.  Can they be helpful at times? Yes. Quicker than a computer for simple tasks? Yes.  But as soon as we give in to this, it’s one blurry line. And when the yes/no cell phone policy is a blurry one, teachers will say “please put your phone away” over and over and over every day. Simply counting the number of times we either say this to an individual student, remind the whole class, or actually ask a student for his/her phone would likely yield surprising results in lost learning time.
  5. As long as schools have a policy of “classroom by classroom,” there will never be a clear expectation for student behavior. I used to be a fan of letting each teacher decide what works best in his/her classroom, but I’m over that. I’m tired of monitoring, tired of politely reminding, and tired of watching student anxiety levels increase. We have to set the limits for them because they cannot do this on their own.

Have thoughts? Please share them.


  1. Your thoughts make so much sense to me. As a former high school English teacher, I can tell you that I would be apoplectic about cell phones constantly coming out on my students’ desks. It’s time schools took a firm stand on the issue.


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