Day 22 (of 187) modelling phone use in class

Day 22 (of 187) modelling phone use in class


I do not have a problem with phones in the classroom. And I admit that not everybody is as comfortable as I am and I will support “the rules in the classroom” , but I will always prefer adults modelling appropriate “mobile device usage” because we know that kids do what they see.


So when talking face to face, I try to use “active listening skills” which means I’m not looking at my phone….for the most part….


….because I appreciate the jobs the device can do:


  • asynchronous communication: the ability to send a message is very helpful – and as principal I appreciate getting a text letting me know if something is going on – both positive or negative. It is often much easier than trying to find me…. and much more discreet of a way to send a message or a “heads up” than making a call.
  • documenting learning: I had a student ask me if I had my phone with me, because she has learned that I like coming in and getting photos and videos of learning occurring to add to our “month in review” video – and she had something she wanted me to add in….
  • eportfolios: the nice part with mobile devices is how it can help document (and provide descriptive feedback) student learning – right away. Not a week after a task was complete, but much more immediately. And the feedback does not always have to be written down – we have a powerful tool that fits in the palm of our hands, and we can video a discussion, use an audio recording to focus on feedback, photograph a note/notes that were taken, and document works as they are “in progress” until they are “complete”
  • quick lookups: sometimes there is something on the tip of your tongue and you need to look it up to confirm something. It doesn’t need to wait until the next day, it can happen in real time. Thats powerful.
  • Distractions – sometimes we all need a distraction, especially after a tense moment. That may include music….social media (I tweet better than I yapp) or even a youtube share.
  • tools – it used to be said (in math) you need to know it because you won’t always have a calculator with you….but the device can be a calculator (and I get upset when my own kids were told they couldn’t use their phone and its calculator app and they expected me to purchase another device that had great limitations. grrrr. Heck, now my iPhone can even act as a ruler! Pretty soon Im sure Ill be able to access a protractor….maybe even a compass (not a N/S/E/W one – already got that…!)


Will kids push boundaries? Absolutely! One youngster showed me how he could spell hello on his calculator (but we don’t talk about banning calculators as distractions) and I know he will soon discover many “other words” he will be able to spell out… But during one of our IEP planning meetings when a child was struggling communicating via his agenda between home and school, I asked if he had a phone (mom said yes…a little sheepishly, but a yes is a yes) and I casually “suggested” why doesn’t he take a photo and bring it home…or even better, take the photo and text it to mom so she sees it even before she gets home. Written output issue solved!


Will adults push boundaries? Absolutely! I know parents have checked facebook and social media during class time. I also know that sometimes those are the best ways to communicate to parents and homes.  And they are modelling how to appropriately use the device – not doing 1:1 time. Not while teaching. But sometimes while the room is calm and in a “work zone” it can be good to check and see what parents need after-school plans changed.



BUT – if the teacher says “no devices” I also expect them to model that. And I know many are more comfortable with that….but as I remind them, texting me may get my attention faster than trying to find where I am…but if kids can’t use mobile devices in the classroom, the teachers device should also be locked away. Otherwise you are hoping “Do as I say, not as I do” will actually work….even though we know….kids do what they see…!



Use the most powerful tool for differentiation and communication that has ever been able to have impacted the education system!

About technolandy

Principaling on the Pacific in Powell River BC Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback to personalize learning!
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