As a 6th grade teacher and being in the elementary school, I really don’t feel as if phones are necessary in the classroom regardless of how fun they might be. Kids in elementary have more important things to learn like how to read nonfiction text, how to take notes, how to study, and some even how to write a complete sentence. Even though they may be a great learning tool, I feel that cell phones would be more of a distraction than anything at this grade level. We have access to a mobile laptop cart per grade level, and that seems to cause enough issues when we have them out, yet alone phones. I know that many of my kids bring their cell phones to school so that they can call parents when they are ready to be picked up from after school activities, but our policy states that they must remain in their book bag all day. If used at the wrong times, staff may take the phone, turn it in at the office, and a parent must come to pick it up at the end of the school day.
Unfortunately, even with phones in the book bags, I’ve had several experiences where cell phones have gone off in the middle of my lesson and I have to wait until it is done ringing, or find the kid who owns it and have them turn it off. Beings that we change classes, if that student is not in my room at the time, it puts a teacher in a tough spot as to whether they can go in the students book bag or not to turn it off. I choose not to and at times get a little silly with it and start dancing to the ring tone…at the end though I am sure to remind students of the policy and politely remind them to turn them off! If parents ask if their child can bring a phone to school and use it to get a hold of them in case of an emergency, I assure them that their child is under constant supervision during the day, and if something were to happen, they would be contacted by the school as long as they do their part and have their emergency contact information up to date.
Personally, like I mentioned before, I think it’s more of a distraction to have a cell phone in the hands of an 11-12 year old during class. I know they all have them and I know they text each other at home, but you often hear about rumors that are being spread through texting as well as bullying. Many argue that saying no to phones is disrespecting teachers and students because it is questioning a teachers’ ability to control their classroom, but I feel as if it is just one more thing for me to worry about. I do not feel that 6th graders, or any students in the elementary setting for that matter, have enough self-control to work with them during class. I have a hard enough time trying to teach some of my struggling learners to read and turn on a computer, yet alone use a cell phone interactively with the lesson. I have 28 kids and only one me and there is not a chance that I would be able to keep up with them all. Plus what happens when you have that one student that is not allowed to have a phone or a student that cannot afford one? I know that for those students who do have a phone, there are still several who do not have their own personal cell that they could use. Kids in elementary school have enough trouble remembering their homework, and I cannot imagine the issues it may cause having phones out during class. I feel as if it takes much more maturity than that of an 11-12 year old kid to use their cell phone at school.
Many sources say that allowing the use of cell phones can cause a few negative effects such as bullying, cheating, harassment, stealing, and invasion of privacy. I agree with all of this being that they are just young children. Students could take pictures of the tests given, they could text during class, since some of them can basically text with their eyes closed, and some may use it to take inappropriate pictures. All in all, I feel that cell phone use in the elementary is just something that is not needed, and it’s just one more thing that could go wrong. I also think that if we were to start using phones in class, then we would really need to look into having our policy on cell phones changed.
Even though I am all about saying no to phones in the elementary classroom, if I were teaching an older class, perhaps I would think otherwise. Being a younger teacher, I definitely can see the pros of incorporating phones into education, but at the high school level only, where hopefully students would be more mature in handling the situation. I could see how older students would be more responsible with the phones when the guidelines are laid out. With that being said, I do not feel as if they are necessary at any level, but are more easily embraced with the older kids.