Dear Dr. Kirk,
My students think that I am just in another generation because I don't think they should be checking messages on their cellphones during class. Do you have any advice on this matter?
Dear Past Generation,
I tell my students that I am teaching them how to be successful in the work world. Their boss is not going to allow them to check for personal phone messages during a business meeting with a client. Thus, I tell them I expect that they come to class on time, turn off their cellphones, etc. Checking cellphones during class is rude and disrespectful to both me and their fellow classmates. I put all this on my syllabus and discuss it and why the first day of class. I bring my cellphone to class the first few classes and make an issue of showing them that I turn off my own phone during class. I also tell them that if they anticipate an emergency call, they should tell me ahead of time (just as they would tell their boss) and put on vibrate.
Here and here are ways other professors have handled this issue. Also, check out this video on how this teacher handles cellphone ringing during class (I have to think it was staged but I’m sure it got the students’ attention!)
Just be sure to be consistent in how you handle any student that breaks your policy. I find using humor works for me:
<Student phone rings>
Me: Stop lecture. Look at student. Say, "That better be for me!" Smile.
Class: Laughs. Student looks sheepish and turns off phone.
And we then go right back to lecture or whatever doing in class.
If it's just a matter of them texting or checking messages, I'll go by the student's desk and quietly tell them to put the phone away during class. Or you might catch them after class and remind them what the policy is on the syllabus.
Anyone else out there have suggestions on cell phone usage in class?