Lift on Cellphone Ban
By Emily Ram, Junior Writer
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced that the City of New York will lift the ban on cell phones at schools, a policy affecting all 1.1 million students and the staff. Prior to last year, “Students used to be required to leave their cell phones at home or leave them outside the building, often incurring a daily charge for private storage that can cost a family on average $180 each year” (nyc.gov).
According to the Hillcrest High School staff, the change of the rule of having cell phones in the building has had a negative effect on classroom management, according to the results of a survey.
However, while some adults standing in front of the classroom most likely can’t stand the cell phones, other adults seem to try to use cell phones for a good thing. A teacher in the Hillcrest staff said, “Cellphones have the potential to be powerful tools for enhancing learning, but can also serve as destructive influences that hinder learning. There are pros and cons, and if students are allowed to use cell phones in the classroom, they must be have considerable discipline to use them wisely in the classroom.” Statistics on the opinions from teachers have been gathered to see how they feel about cell phones in the building.
77.4% of teachers in the Hillcrest staff believe there are more issues with cell phones as frequently as when they were not allowed in the building. Major concerns teachers have about having cellphones in the classroom are as follows; not paying attention to the lesson, taking selfies, filming teachers, texting, or listening to music. 93.5% of teachers interviewed believed texting was a massive concern of cell phones. 90.3% of teachers interviewed noticed their students were not paying attention to the lesson. More than half of the teachers were concerned about being filmed as it violates their privacy.
An anonymous teacher quoted that by using cell phones for those purposes, “Many of my students are less focused on class work and are not working to [their] potential due to this major distraction!” Teachers often stop their students several times during the period to reprimand them for using cell phones. According to statistics, 45.2%, almost half of the teachers, had to stop their students consistently. A teacher who stayed anonymous complained that "students cannot concentrate when they have their cellphone in their bag". The teacher believes that, "students become anxious and find themselves unable to control the urge of checking their phone during class".
On a positive note, most teachers believe that cellphones can be used as an academic tool. According to a teacher organization,a teacher was pleasantly surprised when a student asked if they can use their phone as a timer (ascd.org). This relates to the 67.7% of Hillcrest High School teachers who argued that cellphones can be used to enhance learning. When asked how cellphones can be used for learning, 41.7% of teachers said phones can be used to look up definitions of words and to research while 38.7% of 31 Hillcrest teachers said to take pictures of classwork or homework. When combined, 80.4% of all the teachers believe that these three major actions can be used as a positive note of having cell phones in the classroom.
One teacher in the Hillcrest staff emphasized “I have permitted students to use headphones with their cell phones to listen to music as opposed to streaming slowing the bandwidth in the computer lab. When twenty students stream music or video, it affects the speed of the connection in the lab. If all labs are doing this, then it really interrupts the network. Using cells for these purposes while reading curriculum is desired. It also prevents students from using materials banned by the DOE.” To add on to this, about half the teachers interviewed, 45.2% were interested in following the professional developments such as classroom management, using social media as a tool in the classroom, using them as a research tool and how to use cell phone apps as an education tool. Only 12.9% of Hillcrest teachers said that they had no interest in enhancing cell phones into the classroom.
Teachers believed that there were concerns overlooked by the New York Department of education. Teachers were concerned about potential theft. One teacher in Hillcrest believes it was "short-sighted on the part of the DOE (as) it brought more theft into schools.” In this generation, students are bringing more expensive cellphones and if these cellphones get stolen, it becomes a huge problem and causes chaos within the school. Alongside with theft, cellphones around the country were used for bullying purposes, and some teachers are concerned that now with cellphones in the building this abuse can occur more often. “As a counselor, I've had to deal with students whose pictures have been posted on social media without their permission and often times in a compromising position. It becomes a means of bullying, disrespect and can snowball very quickly”, counselor in Hillcrest High School expressed. Another fear one anonymous teacher was that cellphones will affect observation, as a student might take the phone out, while the teacher is being observed. Having cellphones seems to hinder the chance of teachers getting a good review when their administrators come to observe them in classrooms.
Cellphones being allowed in the beginning of 2015 has its positives and its negatives. Some teachers were on the positive side while others stayed on the negative side with cellphones being allowed in the school. Which side do you agree with?
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