Monday, October 10, 2011

"I Need To Use The Phone"

About 4 1/2 years ago I wrote this post about letting students use the restroom during class time, and based on recent observations, it's time to update that post.

Sometimes during my prep period I go out and take a walk around campus. It clears my head, gets me out of the classroom and into the sunlight, and it does my recovering knee some good. Invariably during these perambulations I run into students on their way to, or returning to class from, the restroom--and very often these students are on their phones, a clear violation of our school's policy on cell phone use (which is that they can be used during our morning 13-minute break and during lunch).

In the post linked above, several commenters took genuine issue with limiting students' ability to come and go as they please. In other words, they thought that a "bathroom pass" should be treated as a "get out of class free" card. Anything less is, to them, a violation of human rights.

OK, I get that. How about this: if a student wants to leave class to use the restroom, they leave their phone with me. No human rights violation that way.

And I'll bet the number of bathroom requests drops dramatically :-)


Anonymous said...

I have used the leave the phone policy for two years. Maybe one kid every two weeks wants to leave for the bathroom.

Cal said...

But why do you care if they use their phone?

scott mccall said...

i like your idea.

and i'm glad the school finally realized there was no harm in using cell phones during lunch....i was almost suspended for taking an important family phone call during lunch

Steve USMA '85 said...

But Mr. Miller, I don't have my phone with me!

What'cha gonna do sport? Full body & purse search before letting them go to the bathroom?

Curious, on your strolls around campus, do you (and do you have the authority to) confiscate their phone?

Darren said...

Cal, if we assume that my instruction is important to the education of students, then they need to be in class so as to benefit from that instruction. If you assume my instruction isn't important, why have the school at all?

Steve, I am not authorized to take phones from random students in the hallway. I can, however, confiscate them in class. And they *all* have them, with only 1 or 2 exceptions. Seriously.

Steve USMA '85 said...

I believe they all have them. My rule for my three children was they could get a phone when they got a job. My rationale was that if they were responsible enough to hold a job, they were responsible enough to have a phone.

All three had phones by the time they were 14.

What I don't understand is all the young kids who think having a cell phone is a right instead of a privilege.

Ellen K said...

At least your school still has a policy. My district has given up under the auspices of Bring Your Own Technology. A more boneheaded, backasswards policy to insure student attention could not have been imagined in my wildest dreams. For more on BYOT and how it's changing my school's landscape for good or ill, I've written this....

Cal said...

"If you assume my instruction isn't important, why have the school at all?"

Bit defensive, aren't you?

You've already let them out of your instruction, this all-important instruction, your reason for being, their reason for being there, to go to the bathroom. Why do you care, once they are not attending your all-important instruction, whether they are peeing or texting?

For me, it's not about why they leave the room, but how often and how long. Leave for too long, and I don't care if it's for a phone call or constipation--you ain't leaving again. If you routinely ask for a pass 15 minutes into class, you're only getting one out of 20 requests.

But what do you care what they do, once you've let them leave the all-important lecture?

Darren said...

Not defensive, making a logical point.

I care if they're using their phones or not because they're not supposed to be using their phones. And if they're using their phones, not only are they breaking a reasonable school rule, but they lied to me about their reasoning for leaving class.

Cal said...

"I care if they're using their phones or not because they're not supposed to be using their phones"

Which would have made sense if you said it the first time. But the first time I asked, you said that you care because they are missing valuable instruction time.

I guess that's what struck me. If they are leaving and coming back in a reasonable time, why care so much? Students do lots of things that are against the rules, so the idea that they are using cell phones while walking to the bathroom isn't much of a big deal, in my view.

Darren said...

Geez, Cal, is it so difficult to understand? There are legitimate and illegitimate reasons to leave class. Wanting to go make a phone call, wanting to go for a walk, wanting to go fornicate with a significant other are *illegitimate* reasons to leave class. Wanting to go take a leak is a legitimate reason to leave class.