It is unfortunate that some students cannot handle the responsibility of a cell phone in school. Some schools even allow students to use these devices during instruction. For those with a zero tolerance policy, it’s important to know what to do if you catch a student using a cell phone in class. Every school addresses this issue differently. Before starting the job, clarify with an administrator or whoever coordinates substitute placement in the building. They will be able to articulate cell phone expectations. Whether they are supposed to or not, most students arrive to your class with cell phones in their pockets and it is your job as a great substitute teacher to know how to address this issue if, and when, it arises.
If you see a student using a cell phone, ask that student to turn it off and hand it to you. If you suspect that they were viewing something inappropriate on the web or saved to the phone, under no circumstances should you ask to see it. To protect yourself, keep the phone off and give it to an administrator as soon as possible. If students are looking at illegal or illicit materials, you don’t want to implicate yourself.
If a student refuses to surrender a cell phone, do not attempt to take it out of his hands. Instead, inform the student of two options; either give you the phone, or leave the room and give it to the building administrator. Like all discipline problems in a classroom, make every effort not to let a cell phone problem become a major distraction for all of your students. If possible, address the problem quietly and directly with the student involved.
What are your thoughts on cell phones in the classroom? We'd love to hear your experiences on the topic. Please share them in the comments below. Our goal is to help you create a safe and positive learning environment, for you and your students!