We all know that being a teacher is no easy task.
Not only are they almost criminally underpaid; they also have to deal with all kinds of issues that those of us who work in an office environment have absolutely zero experience with. Anyone who elects to spend their workday with 25+ kids of any age deserves some serious recognition.
Of course, these days, teachers have more on their plate than ever before. Standardized testing, demanding curriculum standards, bullying, dress codes, student safety, sex education, mental health — the list goes on. Not to mention the fact that there is way more technology available to students these days. Unfortunately, that technology often serves as a distraction from classwork, so many districts implement bans on students' phones and computers.
But Jamie Mitchell — a teacher from Burlington, Ontario, Canada — has a different approach. And it's actually working.
There are plenty of things that make teachers' jobs difficult.Like students arriving late to class, for instance. Nothing disrupts a well-planned lesson like someone who just has to make an entrance.
Then there's all that grading.People who assume teachers' work days end at 3 pm forget that there's usually a bunch of grading to do at night.
And then there's all the drama.Whether you teach preschool or high school (or anything in between), you can bet that there's going to be plenty of drama between students that has nothing to do with the Pythagorean theorem or a Shakespearean play.
But there's one issue that stands out above the others.Cell phones. Pretty much every kid in high school has a cell phone these days, and many of them struggle with putting them away during class time. Or dinner time. Or...any time, as plenty of parents will attest.
Lots of teachers confiscate phones when they see them being used during class.Usually, the student gets their phone back at the end of the class period or, in more extreme cases, at the end of the day.
Other teachers have students put their phones in holders before class even begins.Displays like this keep the phones out of students' hands. They also make it easy to take attendance!
But Ontario teacher Jamie Mitchell isn't a fan of confiscating phones.
via: TwitterHe shared a thread on Twitter about his surprising decision to stop confiscating phones from students. That thread has now gone viral.
Mitchell says that he realized he didn't enjoy confiscating students' phones.
Ten years ago I realized I did not enjoy confiscating student devices...a thread. #OntEd— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395869.0
At first, he did what every other teacher did.
I was newish to teaching and new to the high school. I was told by other teachers that if devices were out I was ex… https://t.co/ysFQi5si3E— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395869.0
But it changed nothing.
Every day I was carrying multiple devices down to the main office. Students who had their phones brought down a ce… https://t.co/5M3xoGwefd— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395869.0
There's also the issue of the phones being students' personal property.
I was also realizing I didn't enjoy confiscating students personal property everyday.— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395869.0
With all this in mind, Mitchell decided to stop confiscating phones.
So...the next year I decided to try something. I flipped the script. I told my classes I wouldn't take their phones… https://t.co/qg8s6pqI05— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395870.0
And things actually got better.
Things got better. Did students still text? Absolutely. Did they play games? Sometimes. But I was able to talk with… https://t.co/HiIyE8caTk— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395870.0
It was actually a pretty brilliant idea.
I liked this, because I was able to leverage these moments into conversations about individual learning skills, lik… https://t.co/DQcfh5cx1y— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395870.0
Mitchell also allowed his students to use their phones for class-related activities.
"You mentioned the Richter scale, so I wanted to google what the largest earthquake ever was" "I'm putting a remind… https://t.co/B2LL8uRQMK— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395870.0
It also made the classroom more pleasant for Mitchell himself.
And I RELAXED! "Yes, you can use your cell phone as a calculator. Maybe text dad and ask if he can buy you a scient… https://t.co/Gjshyo3GWl— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395871.0
Rather than confiscating the phones and limiting their use, he did the complete opposite.
Students have more computing power in their pocket then I ever had in school. And they are EXPERTS at using those… https://t.co/ztwK3dRCkl— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395871.0
He even assigned homework and projects that made use of the phones!
"Use your fav graphing calculator app to see what's happening here." "Homework: take a video of a mathematical rela… https://t.co/iq84YNwuMj— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395871.0
Allowing students to keep their phones made doing projects much easier, too.
I could do WAY more with my classes. No need for a computer lab when students were bringing their own devices. I le… https://t.co/IqohXwKnx8— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395871.0
Best of all, off-task phone use plummeted.Because they were so busy using their phones for school-related purposes, Mitchell's students didn't have the same issues with texting and scrolling through social media that they had back when he was still confiscating phones.
Of course, there were times that phones weren't allowed.
And when I needed the attention of everyone? "Please turn your phones screen side down and close your laptops" That… https://t.co/QqqbLuC77G— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395872.0
Mitchell ended his thread by stating that he would not be banning cell phones in his classroom.
So no, their won't be a ban on cell phones in my classroom. If their was I'd be losing too much. Too much conversat… https://t.co/OueFmR9Czb— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395872.0
He also had this great point:
I think this stance falls in line with my own education philosophy. I'm not the controller of knowledge, doling it… https://t.co/85ptG8CrEN— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552395872.0
Mitchell's Twitter thread garnered a lot of attention and praise.
@realJ_Mitchell Great thread! Agree fully. Too often, I think cell phone rules are used as a form of control over s… https://t.co/w37LgsU7ld— Brent Thompson (@Brent Thompson)1552432929.0
This person pointed out the importance of meeting students where they are.
@realJ_Mitchell Meet the kids (persons) where they’re at..and work with, not against it.— RebekahEP (@RebekahEP)1552433344.0
Some people brought up additional circumstances where having a phone in class was vital to their learning.
@realJ_Mitchell I'm an A student, all the way to two masters, but I also have narcolepsy. If a teacher would requir… https://t.co/gccpPETfjm— Thiéry Adam (@Thiéry Adam)1552479700.0
Or this teacher's student, who uses technology just to see the board:
@realJ_Mitchell @RedLion004 I have a student who needs glasses but her family struggles to afford them, so he best… https://t.co/9TqAclB0ng— Luna w/ Dimi & Dean 👦🏼👶🏼 (@Luna w/ Dimi & Dean 👦🏼👶🏼)1552517290.0
Parents also weighed in:
@CanadianUnikorn @realJ_Mitchell I'm with you on that. I have two kids in high school and we communicate with each… https://t.co/RrrkXbiQuZ— 1nceTweeted2wiceShy🇨🇦🇯🇲 (@1nceTweeted2wiceShy🇨🇦🇯🇲)1552500454.0
Also, Mitchell's methods just make sense.
@realJ_Mitchell Great thread about students and device use in class... We need to leverage the potential for valua… https://t.co/qFQb5y12Zk— Tyler Capton (@Tyler Capton)1552489951.0
Mitchell also pointed out that the great cellphone debate is just one small part of the challenges faced by teachers today.
If you are here because of this tweet ⬇️ please remember that devices in classrooms is a sideshow issue in the real… https://t.co/w6WBtscVDQ— Jamie Mitchell (@Jamie Mitchell)1552446646.0