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4 Ways To Deal With Mobile Phone Use in The Classroom

If you know anything about the relationships people have with their phones, you know that taking them away from each other is like separating someone from their best friend. A move that only leads to increased friction and distraction and is, therefore, in a way, even more, useless than doing nothing at all.

This leaves teachers with a bit of a conundrum. How are you to deal with students whose attention is constantly lost to Facebook and Snapchat and can't be held in one place for long enough to absorb an instruction never mind a whole lesson plan?

Luckily, many teachers and professionals have long been thinking about the same question. And as a result, through trials and testing in the classroom, have come up with a bunch of effective ways of managing and even stamping out mobile phone use for good.

Here are some of those ways that are particularly effective in helping teachers to steal back their student's attention from their phones.

1. Set expectations early

The beginning of the school year — or it it’s too late, the start of a new calendar year — is the best time to lay down expectations of how your students should behave with their phones in the classroom.

That’s not to say you need be completely punitive in your approach; rather, like anything else, there are a set of rules regarding mobile phones that should be adhered to. That means, just as there are times when they should be turned on silent and stowed away, there are times when they can come out, and even when technology can take centre stage in the classroom.

2. Don’t ignore technology

As mentioned, technology certainly has its place in the classroom and shouldn't be ignored just because it can also cause disruption. Students can even put their own smartphones to use, by downloading certain apps and engaging in educational group tasks and activities.

Socrative is a good example of this. The intelligent app allows teachers to initiate activities like quizzes and games that the whole class can take part in on their phones. The teacher can create their own tasks and monitor the progress of students in real time, making sure every student is engaged with the app and creating a handy air of competitiveness.

3. Stick to your guns

Some students stick to their phones like they physically couldn’t function without them. And it's for this exact reason you shouldn't hesitate in taking them away.

While they may oppose the act and sulk for the best part of the class, they’re on their phones all day long and it will be of benefit to their learning, resilience, and employability, and their long-term mental health, to take a definitive break from using them. To do this effectively, designate technology-free times and have your students put their phones in a basket at the front of the room.

This immediately eliminates temptation and creates a sort of ‘we’re all in it together’ attitude that students may even find novel and amusing.

4. Designate tech breaks

Rather than your students simply waiting until they’re free from your evil Luddite clutches to get their phones back, every half an hour or 45 minutes, you can set ‘tech breaks’ that give them some free time to check their phones or do as they please.

This can free students from the anxiety of being away from their phones for too long and allow them to maintain focus during the period in between.Another benefit of setting tech breaks is how you can use them to monitor how your students use and interact with their devices. You may find some have intimate relationships with them, while others couldn’t care less.

Understanding this dynamic can lead to new insights into how you can manage and improve your students use of technology.

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