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Teacher education resource for coping with mobile phone

Teacher education resource should include tips on how to manage student use of mobile phones in the classroom. More and more educators are incorporating the use of mobile phones into classroom learning strategies. 


Group of adultsNo one in this group is using a mobile phone.

It’s sometimes hard for teachers to adapt to students who grew up using mobile phone technology most of whom grew up in an era with no mobile phones or Internet access. One teacher education resource that can help these teachers cope with modern classroom technology is to provide suggestions on effectively managing student use of mobile phones in school.

Teacher education resource expectations

Teachers should establish a classroom policy regarding mobile phone usage during instructional time at the beginning of the school year. Take time to discuss your expectations about this with your students. Include a clear list of times that it is and isn’t appropriate for them to use their mobile phones. It’s also important to agree on and clearly lay out the consequences of breaking the rules. 

One way is to write up a contract or agreement laying out the rules and expectations regarding when it’s appropriate and when it’s not appropriate for your students to use their mobile phones in class. Have them read it over and sign it. Send a copy home to each parent. Don’t forget to leave a copy for your substitute teacher to be aware of the classroom policies you have established with your students regarding the use of mobile phones. This way students know what to expect and there are no surprises when they are caught using their mobile phones.

Another teacher education resource is to build a digital citizenship curriculum that teaches digital citizenship and mobile phone use. This way you can understand how much your students know and understand about online privacy, etiquette, safety, empathy, identity and security. Here are some questions you can ask your students about the mobile phone interaction.

  • What do you like to do on your mobile phone and why? (If they don’t have one, what would they like to do?)
  • What are the most popular apps and websites you use?
  • What do you think are inappropriate ways that mobile phones have been used?
  • How can mobile phones help you learn?
  • How can mobile phones distract from your education?
  • What should teachers know about your mobile phone use that you worry we do not understand?
  • Do you know how to use your mobile phone to gather information or to collaborate on academic projects?
  • How can we work together to create a positive mobile mental health?

Teacher education resource – the cell phone charging station

Cell phone getting charged up.Cell phone recharging. Students can also recharge their phones in school.

Another teacher education resource solution that will help teachers manage their student’s inappropriate use of mobile phones is to set up a visible location in the front of the classroom. If students think that their mobile phone is going to be a distraction in class, they can drop off their mobile phone at the mobile phone charging station in front of the classroom. Teachers can tell their students to plug their mobile phones into the power strip with USB ports, turn the ringer off and don’t think about using the mobile phone for the rest of the day. After the class is over, the mobile phone will be charged up and ready for the next use. Most of the students will probably follow this classroom management technique. The few that refuse to cooperate, will be disciplined separately. 

Benefits of the cell phone charging station include…

  • An atmosphere of adult trust. Students are treated like adults with a choice, not children with rules.
  • An opportunity to self-assess and build self-monitoring skills. Putting the responsibility on the students for knowing their own habits, helps them to build a behavior that will strengthen over time and stay with them when they grow into adults.
  • A community of caring. The teacher is building a caring atmosphere in the classroom. This atmosphere revolves around caring about one another and encouraging the students to care more about the lessons they are learning in class. 

Stoplight Management Approach

Another teacher education resource uses the classroom door to post a red, yellow or green button. The students will see this when they enter the classroom and will know the teacher’s mobile phone usage policy for the day. 

Red means that mobile phones won’t be used that day. Students should turn in their devices at the off location. The teacher will decide where the mobile phones should be kept in a safe place known to the students as the mobile phone parking lot. Student mobile phones should be stored in pocket holders or face down on the teacher’s desk. Students may also store turned off mobile phones placed in their backpacks at the front of the classroom. A physics teacher follows this policy during testing. Before students sit down, they are expected to place their mobile phones in their backpacks before piling them up near the teacher’s desk. 

A yellow button tells the students that their mobile phones should be on silent (vibrate) and placed face down on the upper right-hand corner of their desks. The teacher is planning to allow the students to use them for part of the class period. When they are not in use, the teacher can see which students are prepared to use their mobile phones when asked to do so in class. Students can’t look at their text messages because the teacher will know when they move their devices from the designated storage spot on their desks to turn them on.

A green button means that students will know that they should have their phones turned on (either silenced or set on vibrate) and placed face up in ready position to use throughout the class.

Other teacher education resource alternatives

Teens marching in a parade.Mobile phone apps can make school more interesting for these teens.

The best way to manage student use of mobile phones in class isn’t to ignore it, but to use mobile phones as an educational tool. Mobile phone apps can easily be included in the teacher education resource lesson plans to use for educational and fun activities. These apps engage students by letting them use their own mobile phones in an educational setting. Students use the apps for activities they should do before leaving the class or for other activities they must to do at the beginning of the period. Educational mobile phone apps help bring diversity to daily lesson plans and keep distraction-prone students interested in their studies.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see what students are working on when they are using their mobile phones in class. To make it easier to see the small mobile phone screens that students are using, re-arrange the desks into a semi-circle or in smaller groups. Teachers should also walk around the room more frequently to encourage the students to stay on task while the teacher is watching them use their mobile phones. It’s easier for teachers to identify students using the mobile phones for other activities that the assigned classwork. These students announce their preoccupation with other distractions when they exit out of tabs quickly or double tap their home screen when they notice the teacher walking by.

Teachers should allow students time to check their phones and have some free time. Most students claim to experience anxiety when they’re not able to check their device for more than 20 minutes. Every 20 to 30 minutes, teachers should give their students three minutes to respond to text messages, check social media or look at their notifications from parents or others. This ensures that mobile phones aren’t a distraction to the learning process by relieving their mobile phone separation anxiety.  

Here are five more tips from another teacher about managing mobile phone use in the classroom.

education and technology