As we begin the start of the 2018-19 school year, school personnel are reflecting on current and best practices in the classroom. One of the biggest issues among teachers, administrators, and students is the appropriate use of cell phones at school.
One discussion point is whether cell phones are enhancing the educational environment or hindering it. In surveys given at the middle school and high school last spring, over 80% of the teachers reported cell phones are used inappropriately in the classroom, and that they would like a procedure developed to eliminate their use. Among the inappropriate cell phone activities that our administrators have had to address last year are cyber-bullying, gaming, and pornography. Unfortunately, these are not random occurrences and certainly unacceptable.
I believe that our youth need to learn that cell phone use is a privilege and not a right. Also, there are places in our society where cell phone use is limited or prohibited. Examples are jury duty, at the movie theatre, in certain hospital areas, at certain times in an airplane or train, while driving a car (10 states totally ban cell phones while driving), in a locker room, etc.
There are many employment areas that restrict use of personal cell phones during working hours. Understanding appropriate times to use your cell phone is a workplace skill and it needs to be developed in school. This year, the Clinton Community School District is defining the classroom as one of those prohibited areas. The district has made a major investment in technology so that it is available at anytime for instructional activities.
At the high school, there will be a guest network available before school, during the lunch period, and after school so students can check their messages. Middle school students will be expected to keep their cell phones in their lockers throughout the school day. We feel this approach provides the best balance to maintain the integrity of the classroom and the needs to communicate through the cell phone.
We will continue to evaluate the changes to follow best practice for students in the classroom.