7.3 Engage with the parents/ carers
7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities
They are great when you are out and about to locate friends or your children, but do they help or hinder learning in the classroom?
Currently the NSW government is conducting a review on the risks, benefits, issues of bullying, sexting and internet safety with the use of phones at school. France has banned them and Dr Pasi Sahlberg (a Finnish Educational expert) believes that smartphone-related distractions is one of the reasons why Australia is falling in international student assessment rankings (ref)
Most of the debate regarding the positives in learning resides around the argument that they can be used as a learning tool. That is, Apps can be loaded onto them to collect data etc. However, for our College, we have iPads that can do this, so there is no reason to use phones in class.
In my experience, the problems of student distractibility has increased over the past few years to the point where students are constantly using them for texting, game play, listening to music etc, all of which take their focus away from learning. When the teacher intervenes and asks a student to put it away, the teacher focus is taken away from teaching, helping others and monitoring student safety during practical lessons just to mention a few.
It is for these reasons, I have placed a mobile ‘parking station’ at the front of the room into which they place their phones. The pockets are numbered and correlate to the students number on the class roll. They collect them at the end of the lesson.
When I asked the students last year, there were mixed views, but surprisingly, most students were in favour of it. They must realise how distracting the phones are.
I think it is a good idea. I mean, you can’t take them into a 3 hr HSC exam, so why not be without your phone for 50min?”
On the fip side, students who were against placing them into the hanger said they need to be in contact with their parents. However, they are too young to remember a time when there were no phones and messages had to be sent to class. (which still occurs). They also don’t realise that teachers to have similar responsibilities. Teachers could also say I need to contact my child, need to ring the bank, ring council, organise an appointment etc……. However, they don’t. They realise that being with the children and being active in the class learning is important and the reason they are there. The teacher can wait (as should students) until recess or lunch to use their device.
Some schools have banned them outright or have rules of switched off and in their bag (Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School in Belrose) . If a student has a phone in their hand, they need to hand it in and then collect them at the end of the day (St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney).
At our College, we have not gone to these extremes, however, I am getting them to place them in the pocket and not touch them during the lesson. They are safe and available at the end of the lesson. If they want to use Apps, listen to music etc, they can use their iPad.
It will be interesting to see what the government decides, but for my classroom, the holder will help them focus on learning… at least for 50 min.
Mr Darin Carr