24 years teaching student leadership – can an old dog learn a new trick?  Yes he can!!!

Realistic Picture – I just got glasses!

I always felt it was not worth it to fight with kids over cellphone use in class.  I would constantly be reminding them and it would make me crazy.  So other than the occasional reminder to put them away I quietly surrendered.  Then my spring 2021 grade 10 class changed my mind.  They were constantly on their phones and it had a significant negative impact on the learning and success of that class.  Something had to be done.  But how?  Constant lecturing and punishing would kill me and our leadership program.

I got my answer from my superstar Leadership colleagues Jane Grant and Tom Yonge at Scona High School in Edmonton.  Do Now! Activities and a cell phone caddy.  Let me explain.

First thing students do when they arrive is to put their cell phone in the caddy.  They each have an assigned pocket # so that I know who may have left their phone behind (only happened once this semester 🙂 or who hasn’t put theirs away.

Then they see on the screen a Do Now activity they are to start on right away.  These are team building, skill building, and fun.  After 5 or 10 minutes I shut it down and get on with class.  Here are some sample activities.

Click here to download my Do Now PowerPoint.  Tom and Jane shared theirs with me and I have made some additions with help from others. https://1drv.ms/p/s!Ah1BegozVtqB4if2RSgXWpX5SFKf?e=oMiNvk

You can purchase a cell phone caddy here on Amazon https://www.amazon.ca/NIMES-Numbered-Organizer-Classroom-Calculators/dp/B074Z3WS9Y/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=3NCPBFHJP3Z7N&keywords=classroom%2Bcell%2Bphone%2Bholder&qid=1643135204&sprefix=classroom%2Bcell%2Caps%2C109&sr=8-1-spons&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyT1FVWjY3M0FDREI2JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMzI0ODE2Mzk5V0FQWUlER08xUiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMzcxMjUzMTA2TDBDMFpQODI1NiZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU&th=1

How did I present this to the class?

I was honest.  I told them how cell phones were getting in the way of our class success.  I told them this was not optional.  They are to put their phone in the caddy before they sit down.  They can pick it up 10 minutes before class ends.  I posted those times for each class. Then one smart kid asked how they will know what time it is if they don’t have their phone – Good Point!  I bought a digital clock and put it by the caddy. If they need their phone during class they come check with me. I then focused on how great the Do Now activities will be.

After One Semester Results

Awesome!!!  A game changer.  How?

  • Improved class discussions
  • they talk to each other more
  • increased productivity with students seeming more present
  • good clean Do Now fun!!!
  • a happier and less stressed teacher

Key Leadership Lessons for us all

Keep connections with great colleagues like Jane and Tom – we need everyone’s good ideas

Energy, excitement, and quality activities right from the beginning set a great tone.

Old (and young) dogs can learn new tricks.

Hope you have Do Now! success with your classes, councils, and programs too.

Looking for a speaker or workshop facilitator?

As things hopefully start opening up please consider having me come to your school or conference to work with students and / or teachers.  Click here https://brentdickson.net/speaker-presentations/ to see what presentations I offer.  Or if you are looking for something different or more specific let me know.  I’m flexible  🙂

3 thoughts on “No Cell Phone Distractions in Leadership Class? A Silly Dream or My New Reality?

  1. LOVE this!!! I am putting this into my classes immediately! I cannot wait to try this in semester 2 and really think the cell phone caddy will be a game changer when I get them all on board- Thanx so much for sharing your resources!

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