Cell Phone Confiscations

By Isabella Macias, Armani Reeves, and Neveah Tainatongo

Photograph of Armani Reeves messing with her phone by Neveah Tainatongo

Cell phones have been a problem for a very long time in school, but lately, these past few school years have seen many teachers getting stricter about having phones in class. Some students think the reasons are dumb, but some teachers think they give good reasons to take phones away based on the information collected by The Arrow. Teachers and students have been arguing about cell phone confiscations for a while, so we have asked questions to try to find out more about the problem.

In order to collect this information, we asked very different and specific questions for both students and teachers. 

One of our first responses was from Ms. Cameron, (6th Exploratory STEM and 7th-8th PLTW: Flight and Space); “When students were on their phones in the 1st quarter, I just told them to put them away. [I]f the offense continued, I had students put their phones at the front until the end of class. The distraction of phones only increased. 

“At the beginning of [2nd] quarter, we did a jigsaw activity using the student handbook. One policy I had students focus on was the use of personal devices in the classroom (the handbook states that personal devices are not to be seen or heard during class time). I explained at that time – multiple times really – that the Handbook is the [only] warning because I should not have to remind you daily not to be texting or playing games on phones in class.”

Ms. Cameron concluded; “Last week, I took up about six phones and turned them into the office for students to pick up at the end of the day. From this point forward, it will be for parents to pick up (announced multiple times in class and seriously consider sending out an announcement to parents).”

Ms. Cameron explained how phones are becoming an increasing distraction, but some other teachers have had different types of responses. 

Another teacher we spoke to was Ms. Kelly (7th grade Math) “San Fran State has a policy where students are given one warning and then the phone gets taken away for the class period if it’s out again. I usually remind students at the beginning of class to put their phones away, but I rarely have to tell students individually more than once.” 

“My reason for taking phones away is for not following my class expectations,” said Ms. Powers (8th-grade Science) “My expectations are students are allowed phones out when it is independent work time and they are in control of their learning. IF I am teaching or they are in a partner or group setting, then they cannot have phones out. 

“I am trying to teach my students that if they are present at the right times, then they will be more willing to get the work done because they have listened and understood what was taught. I give everyone a warning at the beginning of the quarter. The first time taking a phone they get it back at the end of the day, and the second time it is parent pick-up,” Ms. Powers told us.

“Sometimes, I allow students to use the calculator on their phone or if they ask permission first, they can text their parents if it is something important. Otherwise, I expect students to have their phones away,” said Ms. Pitts (Special Education)

We interviewed our peers and we got multiple responses from 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.

Jordan Cabello, a 6th grader, confessed that he got his taken when he was “bothering people.”    

Shane Barclay (6th) told us his was taken away “when I was charging my phone. It was on my desk, so I had it out while it was charging.”  

Our 7th graders had some different responses. Kaden Edwards said, “Getting into an argument at the football game” was the dumbest reason he got his phone taken. 

Rj Njirametuker (8th grade) said, “I had it out and I wasn’t even looking at it, I just had it out.” 

From Brayden Keen (8th grade) we heard, ”When I got suspended for slap boxing last year”

James Chandler (7th grade )though remembered a time when he really deserved to have his phone taken away. “[W]hen I got caught stealing stuff in 3rd grade.” 

We hope this cell phone problem can get better, and both teachers and students can agree to something about this. We appreciate our teachers and students for their responses and their perspective on this topic. 

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