Every school and every teacher has a different philosophy with student cell phones and with classroom management as a whole. Whether you are on the FORBIDDEN end of the spectrum or on the “do what you want, it’s your grade” end, I just might have a solution that will help in your classroom.
The Cell Phone Charging Station
I’d first like to point out what I’ve named the policy - The Cell Phone Charging Station. It’s not “Phone Jail” or anything negatively connotated. The goal of using a charging station is to incentivize responsible behavior before punishment is even necessary. Here’s what I tell the kiddos in the first week of school:
And that’s it. It’s that simple. From about day four, I had more students choosing to put their own phones at the station than I’ve ever had to reprimand. In the first semester of trying this system, I had one student (out of 125!) refuse to put his phone away and I was able to handle him separately.
There will never be a perfect policy, but this approach certainly created a few things in my classroom:
An atmosphere of adult trust. Students are treated like adults with a choice, not children with rules.
An opportunity to self-assess and build self-monitoring skills. By putting the responsibility on them for knowing their own habits, I hope to be building a behavior that will strengthen over time and into their adulthood.
A community of caring. The tone of our room is one where we care about each other and care about learning - I don’t spend day after day nagging students about this annoying behavior!
Here’s what you’ll need to create your Cell Phone Charging Station:
A visible place at the front of the room. I have mine on the front board so that I can always see who is up there and keep an eye on any funny business.
A power strip that has USB ports. I bought mine on Amazon and this one has room for 14 devices to be plugged in at once. I never have this many at once, so it’s worked out great! Students do have to have their own cord in order to plug in - but most of them live with a plethora of cords in their backpacks so that hasn’t been a problem either.
A few dry erase markers. I ask the students to put their name on the pocket where their phones are so that there are no mix-ups or if they leave and forget the phone I know who it belongs to.
A sign or place on the whiteboard for you to write your rules for using the station.
I’d love to hear how this has helped in your classroom and how you tweaked it to fit your school. Establishing this as a routine in my classroom has become an essential part of the first two weeks of the school year. We need to practice this routine and actually test it in action a few times before we get it down.
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