A few staff at South View Middle School were interested in the idea of using the locking pouch. Rather than treating it as a "punishment" for student misuse, instead they looked on it as an opportunity for student reflection on what it is like to go without a cell phone. I decided that it would be good for me to get to experience a couple of days without my device as well, and so I decided to participate.
At the end of the experience, students will respond to the following questions:
“Why do I NEED my phone right now?”
“What else could I do to get what I need?”Here is the letter that went home to parents explaining the program.
At the start of the day, the instructors in three Advisory classes presented the following to students:
|Careful! That pin is sharp!|
Below are my reflections on going without a device...
Day 1As soon as I put the phone in the pouch and made my way out of the building, I thought about how I was missing the opportunity to respond to an e-mail or two, or check my calendar for the day as I walked back to the office.
Later in the day, we had guest speakers at a district meeting, and I so wanted to take a picture and tweet out some of the great information they were sharing, AND look up some of the resources they shared. I did have access to my laptop and solved the latter problem that way.
At the end of the school day, I went in and unlocked my phone. Caitlin Bailey, one of the teachers piloting the project noted that students had a hard time getting over their initial feelings about the pilot being "punitive." One student went so far as to insert a pad of post-it-notes into the sleeve to trick staff into believing the phone was secured. Still others texted parents, claiming their 4th Amendment rights had been violated! Bailey noted that as a social experiment, it has been extremely revealing at how emotionally students have reacted to not having instant access to their device. It is giving students first hand evidence of possible "addiction."
Another teacher mentioned that he had to use one of the pouches when he went to a concert at Paisley Park, as they have a no cell policy, so it isn't just schools exploring this issue.
As I expected, at least one student cut themselves on the pin at the top of the case. Overall, I was able to navigate my job without my phone, fairly well. At least I didn't miss any meetings, which for me was my biggest concern. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
Day 2As we met in Advisory for Day 2, students discussed their anxiety about not having access to a device. To avoid this, many kids chose to leave their device at home. Once concern that at least one teacher mentioned was the anxiety that kids were feeling after the school shooting in Texas last week. What if there was an emergency, and needed to get in touch with their parent? Good questions, and it speaks to the importance of thinking about the impact to student's mental health, both anticipated and unanticipated when considering a solution like this.
Another aspect of this is the overall policy at South View. Three years ago, the school instituted a "no cell phone" policy, as the school has 1:1 devices through our eLearning2 program. While students may have mobile devices, they are only to be taken out at teacher discretion, if needed for a photo or video for example. Bailey notes that had the pouches been tested a few years ago, there might have been more of an impact on behavior. Now, if kids are going to be off task, they are usually on their 1:1 device rather than phone.
I found I was less likely to reach for my phone today, though there was that moment I wanted to send a text to my wife and realized I couldn't!
Day 3 and 4
The pilot moved to new classrooms. Students seemed to be reluctant to participate, though many did, or chose to not bring their phone to school. We did find some students went to extreme measures to access their phones, and a couple chose to tamper with the pouch. Still others discovered that other magnets were able to release the mechanism. We did have a few parents e-mail to say they didn't want their students participating.