Most high school students in this country have cell phones. Many of their schools don’t have strict policies about when those phones can and can’t be used. It has created problems for teachers and administrators. The phones can also prove a big distraction for students. But one teacher has installed an innovative solution to the problem.
“I just needed to do something different,” Michael Lee said. Lee is a digital photography teacher in a school in Washington.
Lee’s isn’t new to the classroom, but he was seeing new behaviors from his students. They would leave to go outside to shoot photos, but would come back earlier. And their edits weren’t taking as long, either.
His theory was that his students were rushing the artistic process so they could get back on their phones.
This year, he bought a phone cubby. Each box has its own lock. They even have electricity in them for those who may need a charge.
“My overall goal was to give kids an opportunity to engage in what they’re doing,” he said. “And that’s hard to do when every few seconds or few minutes there’s a beep on your phone and you have to check what it is.”
When they aren’t staring at their screens, the students are more likely to engage with one another, and with the subject matter, Lee has found.
The new policy is easy. As each class starts, students place the phone in their individual lock-boxes. They hold the keys. At the end of each class, Lee gives the signal and the kids return to their phones.
Those precious few minutes when the phones are locked up may be the only minutes in the entire day when the phones are out of reach of the students.
The results, Lee says, are easy to see. Other teachers in the school are now looking at similar options.