Changing Cell Phone Plans

Windsor teachers are implementing new cell phone policies.

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Changing Cell Phone Plans

Cell phone caddies like these are in many teacher's classrooms this year.

Cell phone caddies like these are in many teacher's classrooms this year.

Austin Williams

Cell phone caddies like these are in many teacher's classrooms this year.

Austin Williams

Austin Williams

Cell phone caddies like these are in many teacher's classrooms this year.

Austin Williams, Staff Writer

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In the 21st century, a cell phone is more than a communication device but rather a tool that is kept in everyone’s pockets at all times. However, like any other tool, it is only good when used properly. Especially in a classroom setting, cell phones contain a multitude of ways to be used improperly. This has led many teachers to create their own policies on the matter.

How teachers go about controlling cell phones is a complex issue that falls onto a spectrum. Teachers could allow cell phones; however, doing this creates the possibility that students abuse that power. Teachers could also completely ban cell phones from the classroom. This option often creates backlash from the students, ultimately disrupting the class as if cell phones were allowed in the first place.

At Windsor High School, many teachers have found a solution that lies more towards the middle: cell phone caddies. The cell phone caddies used at WHS are large pieces of fabric hung up on the wall with many different numbered pockets for students to put their phones in. Teachers Mark Franke and Chris Malec are two notable users but in completely different ways. 

Previously, Franke had completely banned cell phones from his classroom. This resulted in many students disobeying and having their cell phones sent to the office. This made many students upset because their personal property was being taken away from them. This resulted in Franke, along with other teachers, looking for a new solution.

“I was looking for a way to allow a way for students to listen to music at the end (of class) during homework (time) and remove temptations from other things,” Franke said.

Since the implementation of his new policy, behavior has improved along with grades possibly going up as well.

“I haven’t had to turn in a single phone to the office this year yet,” Franke said. “(And) due to the students’ higher focus, grades are likely to be a little higher on average.”

While the cell phone caddies are a great improvement for students and Franke from the previous policy, they are not perfect.

Franke said, “A few students have attempted to not turn in their phone unnoticed; however, due to the high number of phones, it is easy to tell.”

Franke also mentioned how he is able to weed out those who don’t put their phone up over the first few weeks of school. This can prevent the problem in the first place.

Malec has a cell phone caddy in his room, but uses it in a very different way. Under Malec’s policy, the caddy is only optional.

Malec structures his class around an instructional strategy called “flipped classroom.” A flipped classroom is where students receive the instructional content outside of class and do the activities in class where they can receive help from the teacher as needed. This classroom structure allows more leeway for cell phones.

“The whole point of my cell phone policy is to promote student responsibility later in life,” Malec said. “I won’t take phones. It’s not zero rules, but I expect you to be responsible with your phone. I expect you to use it to watch lessons sometimes if you don’t have your chromebook. And if you’re not being responsible, the first thing I do is go to you and tell you to fix the problem. And then when you don’t fix the problem, then I have to contact parents and say ‘Hey, they’re not being responsible.’ But my thing is, it’s not my job to take the phone away. It’s your job to fix the problem, or that’s your parents’ responsibility to take away your phone, not mine.

Malec’s cell phone caddy is incorporated into this theme of student responsibility.

“I have (a caddy). Students can put them in there if they feel like they can’t be responsible (with them). Or if it’s distracting them, they can use (the caddy) all on their own. They can use it on test day too if they want to trade in their phone to get a calculator,” Malec said.

This policy seems to be one that many students like; however, it may not be one that will work in all classrooms. It definitely seems to be working in Malec’s flipped classroom, yet WHS has still to see if it can work in other classrooms.

There are pros and cons to both Franke and Malec’s policies. Each policy is serving its intended purpose. Both offer ways to allow students to have access to their phones but also leave an option for some students to slack off. 

Only time will tell if there is a cell phone policy agreed upon by students and teachers. The variety of methods represent that teachers are continuously looking for change. For now, these are some of the methods WHS students have to work with.

“This is my compromise,” Franke said. “If my students from five years ago were to see my policy now, they would see I am much more lenient.”

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