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How to Control Smartphone Use in the Classroom


For years, educators of all grade levels and subjects have battled the issue of how to handle smartphones in the classroom. Teachers these days are not only tasked daily with creating engaging, vigorous lesson plans, but they’re also facing the ongoing issue of how to best keep students off of their smartphones. Most teachers do not want to waste class time disciplining smartphone use and would rather have strategies in place at the beginning of the year for how to control smartphone use in the classroom during instructional time.

Here are seven popular strategies to control smartphone use in the classroom.

Create a Charging Station
One popular incentive to keep students off of their smartphones during instructional time is to offer a charging station. At the beginning of class, students are invited to plug their phones into provided chargers and let them charge throughout the duration of the class period. Once it’s plugged in, it must stay there until the end of class.

Teachers have sited this as a win/win solution for everyone. Students leave class with charged devices and teachers have the full attention of their students once their phones are out of reach. This is an effective way to control smartphone use in the classroom.

Announce “Unplugged Days” Ahead of Time
Giving students a schedule at the beginning of each week that lists “unplugged days” (days without smartphones or computers) gives them an idea of what to expect and what to prepare for. Since many students may choose to use their smartphones during class to deal with personal situations, they’ll likely appreciate knowing ahead of time what days their phones will be off-limits so that they can plan accordingly.

Have a Collection Area on “Unplugged Days”
On “unplugged days”, there should be clear expectations about where to place smartphones so that students are not tempted to get them out. One option is to hang a clear shoe holder in the classroom and label each pocket with a number. Students should also receive an assigned number that sticks with them throughout the year. As students walk in, they understand to place their cell phone in their assigned pocket. The teacher will then check each pocket at the beginning of class to make sure that it’s filled with a smartphone.Another option is to put desks in groups and place a basket in the middle of the group. Students are then asked to place their phones in that basket while they work until the end of class.

Give Students a “Why” 
At the beginning of the year, have a mature discussion with students about why smartphones interrupt the learning process. Answer questions they may have. Remember that countless kids have been given smartphones without any guidelines or rules about when and when not to use them. Many teachers and schools use my book Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World to teach students cell phone etiquette along with social skills and job skills.

Reward Respectful Behavior
If you wish to or feel the need to reward respectful behavior ask students what they believe would be an acceptable reward for staying off of their smartphones. Once a reward system is set in place, ask students at the beginning of each class period to turn their phones to silent and place them face down in the upper left-hand corner of their desks. Reward them according to what the class discussed and agreed upon. Perhaps this is an extra participation point, a monthly class pizza party, or a homework pass.

Make Parents Aware of the Rules
Establish good communication with parents and make clear the classroom expectation regarding smartphone use. Ask that parents help you as their teacher in having conversations with their students about respecting class time and their teachers’ wishes. Ask parents not to text or call their students while they are in class.

Be a Good Role Model of Smartphone Use
Not only do students occasionally misuse smartphones at inappropriate times, but teachers may as well. Teachers should model responsible smartphone use by following their own classroom rules; No texting, no taking pictures, no listening to music, and no making phone calls. Teachers could also go a step further and explain to students how they desire to demonstrate responsible smartphone use and to ask students to hold the teacher responsible just like the teacher will hold the students responsible.

What are other strategies you use to control smartphone use in the classroom?

To learn ways to improve your students’ social skills and job skills and cell phone etiquette check out Kirt Manecke’s award-winning book Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World and the Teaching Guide for Smile & Succeed for Teens. Be sure to also check out Kirt’s award-winning book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service, the essential 60-minute crash course in customer service and sales. Both books are quick and easy to read. Learn more on Kirt’s website.

Posted by Kirt Manecke | 0 Comment
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