The use of cell phones in a school setting is hotly debated for both students and teachers. While some see a teacher's cell phone as another learning tool, others view it as a distraction. However, there are experts that make valid cases for both sides.
Advantages of Teachers' Cell Phones in the Classroom
Many professionals believe that cell phone usage by a teacher is acceptable. There are different reasons that teachers think cell phones are acceptable and even helpful in the classroom.
Cell Phones Improve Communication
Amanda McDonald, a veteran 4th grade teacher, notes that cell phones can be helpful teaching tools and communication aids. Not only are they valuable for looking up facts, but teachers can have quick access to things like timers and calculators. Experts in a Huffington Post article on technology in the classroom agree that cell phones can be beneficial for communicating with parents about behavior or scheduling changes, and Common Sense Education says that they can be helpful for streamlining parent-teacher communication in several ways. They are also useful in case of an emergency. McDonald does note, however, that ensuring that the security and material on a teacher's cell phone is appropriate at all times is important since it will be used as a learning tool. She also recommends that teachers notify the students of what they are using their cell phones for.
Educational Learning Apps
Teachers can also use their cell phones for educational learning or behavior management apps with students. Not only can the students and teacher use the apps to learn about subjects or engage in learning, teachers can also use learning applications to invoke better time management and studying.
Cell Phones Help With Classroom Activities
Using cell phones in learning can make it easier. A whopping 73 percent of teachers stated that they used cell phones to help with classroom activities. This is because it makes it easier to engage students if teachers can connect their learning to digital platforms they understand like Twitter and Snapchat. Additionally, cell phones can make grading, attendance and behavior management easier. A 2017 study in India showed that 86 percent of teachers in the study were in favor of cell phone use for classroom activities and felt it was not a distraction.
Arguments Against Use of Teacher Cell Phones
While there are many teachers that support the use of cell phones by teachers and students alike, there are some individuals opposed to the idea, especially in younger grades. The reasons they see cell phones as a menace are quite varied.
Cell Phones Are Not Necessary
With access to a computer and phone within the classroom, many feel there isn't any reason that a teacher needs to use his or her personal cell phone. Schools may also provide teachers with access to tablets for their use, which makes the use of a personal cell phone unnecessary.
Cell Phones Are Distracting
While teachers are professionals, the need to check messages or respond to a call could distract from learning and students. This could lead to children not getting 100 percent of the teacher's attention. While checking a message might not seem like much, doing it throughout the day can lead to an unproductive and even unsafe environment.
Compromises Data and Information
Using a personal cell phone to document children through a video, photo, communicate with parents or even record grades or information could violate confidentiality. Since the information was recorded on a personal device, it could be hacked or leaked in a way that is not approved by a parent. Additionally, it could even be against the law if the photos were posted in the wrong area or without parent consent. This could also be a safety issue if the images get into the wrong hands.
The Board Is Still Out
Whether teachers should have cell phones is a valid debate currently raging through schools. While they can be a great communication and learning tool that students already have, using cell phones could cause teachers to be distracted. They could also very well be a security liability. While there is not a right or wrong answer on this topic, teachers should consider both sides before taking a cell phone into the classroom.