>> Friday, October 2, 2009
This post was contributed by Christina Judy Fernandez.
The-re rum the-re rum the-re rum dum dum ...
"There goes the infamous Nokia tune again,” I thought to myself while trying to complete my once a year Peer Teaching Observation required by the English department. Lisa, known as such an approachable teacher to the rest of us, just paused for a good 4 to 5 minutes and grinned at all her students while asking them politely to turn off their cell phones. “Now, where was I, class?” she asked. “What was the last thing I said, Wilson?” she prompted. Dead silence for about one minute. “I think you were explaining how to identify …” he responded. “You see that’s why I hate interruptions especially from cell phones. Now I completely am not sure what exactly I was going to tell you. Well, blame it on the cell phone rings,” explained Lisa before she continued on with the lesson.
My heart really went out for dear Lisa, not a nice thing to have an observer and unexpected interruptions to her teaching. Personally, I thought she handled it very well. Letting the students know how much time such interruption wastes and also how they can miss out on crucial information was a good move on her part. But on the other hand, I can also see how students may not always understand that their actions can affect others negatively.
A few days later, at the pantry, I asked her how her classes were going. “A few more phones had gone off. It’s a wonder I can even finish my objectives for each lesson!!” she said frustratingly. Another colleague who heard this said that he used to have similar problems until he actually answered the phone call meant for a student during class. “Don’t you think that’s an imposition?” I asked him. “The students are in my classroom and any or all calls in the room should be mine,” he replied.
As for Lisa and I, we continued our discussion with other colleagues over the next few weeks and came up with a list of how other teachers handled the use of cell phones in their classes:
1) Get students to leave their cell phones in a basket at the beginning of each lesson. The phones must be turned off.
2) If a student’s phone rings in class, teacher will collect and lock it up in the computer cabinet in front of the class. At the end of class, the owner will need to apologize and ask for the phone politely in front of his or her classmates.
3) If a student phone rings within the first hour of class, the teacher will keep the phone until the end of class. However, if it rings in the second hour of class, the student can only collect it at the end of that working day.
I know of a subject lecturer who frequently goes around collecting cell phones that ring in his classes of 100 over students. Once taken away, the students can only get them back at the end of the day. He said those kids that come to him at the end of the day look really miserable. "It does stop them generally," he said, "Cause it's a matter of life and death to them - who would want their 'lives' to be taken away, even for one second?"