No really, when?

A few years back I remember reading an article about how we, as teachers, would soon look back and shake our heads out our former selves for banning cell phones from schools.

Why isn’t that time now?

Do teachers and administrators expect students to walk inside the hallowed walls of our fine institutions and cast away all thoughts of the outside world? When are we going to realize that students are people just like us?

In today’s world it is hard to imagine being cut off from the outside world for an hour, let alone an entire school day. But that is what we expect our students to do each time they walk through our doors. Under our current cell phone ban, students have to sneak their phone out of their pocket or ask to use the restroom in order to steal some time for a text message. If students were allowed to use their phones between classes, we would greatly decrease the need for secrecy and sneaking around.

Our students, much to the dismay of teachers, have lives outside of school that are very important. Lives that they care about, and lives that they can even learn from!

Instead of focusing on the social aspect of cell phones, think of the possibilities for learning and student engagement that they present. Facts and information are more powerful when found by a student instead of told to a class.

How are we going to find a balance with cell phones in schools? We have students with phones that can film HD quality footage, be used to blog on the go, or even to read a book. We also find information at the blink of an eye as well. But somehow schools continue to ban these powerful tools because of fear. Cell phones are resources that students are already familiar with. We want students to feel ownership and care for the devices they use? Use devices that they own!

Right now my middle school supplies each student with a netbook. Want an easy way to cut costs and make students happier, more engaged, and perform better? Let’s start bringing our own devices! And if a student is unable to afford a device, they can check one out for the year from the school. Even if only half of the students choose to bring their own device, think of the costs that will be cut! This article from Forbes is a good resource that addresses some concerns.

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These Tweets over the weekend were fitting. Let’s take the devices out! Allowing teachers to use these student-owned devices at their discretion could be a huge asset to classrooms, especially those that are concerned about budget issues.

Like it or not, we rely on our cell phones and so do our students.