Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Do you know what this is?
(I took this photo during lunch, these were the abandoned ones.)
From time to time I substitute teach at the same school where I teach Art. Last week I was in familiar territory, Junior High. My teaching career feels at home in Jr. High, fits like an old shoe. Little has changed in my six year absence, teenage hormones still run amok. One thing that has changed is cell phone domination. EVERYONE has a cell phone, smart phone, excuse for needing to use one. These "shoe" organizers are in every Jr. High/High School classroom but rarely if ever used. I used to walk into the classroom and greet my students with cordial hellos and good morning conversation. Now when I substitute I say this: "Hello, for those of you who do not know me, I am Mrs. Botting. Please bring your cell phones to the "phone" organizer and turn it off. If you fail to turn off your phone before placing it in it's numbered pocket and it rings, chirps, dings, vibrates or sings to me during class I will discard it until the end of the day and you can pick it up in the office tomorrow morning." This greeting is returned with scoffs, complaints, more excuses, jaws dropped and reluctance, but never is it returned with disbelief. I follow through with my promise. I am probably a loathed substitute, the "one who deprives teenagers of their lifelines." But here is what is confounding to me. The school, K-12, amounts to 220 students. Each teacher has a phone on their desk in each classroom. It is connected to intercom and therefore the school office and other classrooms. There is a live person working to answer phones in the office in case a parent should need to contact their child during class. Why then do 11 to13 year-olds need cell phones or even smart phones on and operating during class time? Why do teachers let this interruption exist? There are a lot of issues in American education which prevent students from grade competency, internationally our educational system ranks poorly (have you seen Waiting For Superman???). Is the luxury of allowed cell phone usage helping students to learn the material given by the instructor? Is there even ONE Jr. High school student able to ignore the interruption of an incoming text? 
Today during six grade Art class, a student sat directly in front of me with headphones in her ears. I stopped the instruction and told her to "put it away, how completely inappropriate." She replied unmoved,  "it's paused." 
Yes, I flipped a lid.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my heavens...I would have FREAKED out. I cannot believe more schools don't have a stricter policy on cell phone/ipod use during school hours. It's completely unacceptable, especially for those under age 18. Its only contributing to their inability to focus.

    The college I attend is a laptop campus, meaning we're expected to bring our laptops to every class. This tends to be nice for taking notes, keeping ontop of emails, etc...but there are students around me that carry on facebook conversations and play video games for the entire length of the class. It's so rude, and I may just have to channel you and go CRAZY one of these days.

    Totally agree with you here!