24 years teaching student leadership – can an old dog learn a new trick? Yes he can!!!
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?”
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!
You are very welcome! The key is introducing something fun and engaging (Do Now activities) at the same time as the no cell phone plan
If you found this post helpful please share it with some colleagues. Have a great day