It is not that students and employees won’t put their phones away. It is that when we feel the buzz or here the tone go off, our first instinct is to look at it. Even if we don’t look at it immediately, we all wait for the opportune time to do so. And once we have that opportunity to look, we are distracted. Sometimes we start looking at one thing, and it leads us to others. The next thing you know, we are checking out all our social media. This is the distraction. Most parents, and some administrators that have been out of the classroom for a while just say, “tell them to put it in their pockets, purses, or backpacks.” That is fine. Most students will listen. They do put it away. However, they are still distracted. As an educator of 23 years, I have seen firsthand what students do. When they get a notification, they will look. Maybe not immediately, but they do. Even our best kids. Think about it. You most likely do the same thing as an adult. When a student does not have the ability to look, and respond, or surf, they don’t. It is human nature this day and age to look and respond at the opportune time.
I did a case study in my classroom for 1 and a half years. I have 7 tables in my classroom. I literally, rachet strapped a clear box onto each desk. I had the students at each table. Put their phones in that box during instructional time (when in the classroom). I realized after a very short time, that students really don’t miss their phones that much. After speaking with 100s of them, they say the same thing. If they cannot touch their phone, they don’t think about it that much. And their phones are safe and only at arm’s length away. Grades went up, and discipline went down. My students did a 180. I had their attention. I didn’t have to tell a student to put their phone away 10 times in a class period. And the students that normally ignored my request to put it away, well I didn’t have to write a referral for that, because they couldn’t keep taking it out. It was safely stored in a box. This is when I knew I had to come up with a product that could be used in every classroom or conference room.
I will speak how it works as a teacher first. The teacher has a control panel that is attached to their desk or the wall. The students have a phone locker attached underneath their desk on the side. When the students are in class, the teacher will tell the students they are getting ready to push the button (on the teacher control box). Once the teacher pushes a button, a blue LED light comes on. This is the indicator for all the students to push their button to activate their phone locker. They also have an LED light come on, so they know they pressed it. All the students have approximately 7 seconds after the teacher hits the button to hit theirs. After that 7 seconds is up, all the phone lockers that were activated will open. The students will then insert their cell phones. Once they push the door shut, it is locked and secure. This not only keeps students off their phones. It helps keep them engaged and less distracted. All of this alleviates stress, anxiety, and that urge to take out their phone. In effect, with classroom engagement, teachers can teach, students can learn, discipline goes down, and grades and test scores go up.
There is also an instant button on the teacher control box. This button is used when an individual or a group of students need to retrieve their phones. Maybe to use for a project. Maybe they are going home for the day. Maybe they are called out of the classroom. In this case, the student will activate their phone lockers first. Then the teacher will push the instant on button, and only those phone lockers will open.
Each classroom has a unique code on the dipswitch inside each phone locker. This code corresponds to the code in the teacher control box. This was designed so that only the phone lockers in that classroom will only work with that classroom teachers control box.
This same procedure can work at any business. For instance, if the phone lockers were attached under the table at every chair in a conference room, the presenter would push the button on the control box, and the individuals in the conference would activate their lockers. Once the phones are put in and locked, the people listening to the presentation in the conference room will not be distracted by their cell phones.
It will teach people the appropriate times to use their cell phones. It will also help in the engagement of students and employees. Do me a favor. Just ask the question yourself. Go to any school, or any business. Ask the question, what is the biggest distraction in the classroom? What is the biggest distraction of your employees? You will most likely get the same answer I always do. Cell phones! Cell phones are not going away. Banning cell phones does not work. Let us stay in the 21st century and allow students and employees to have them. Let us just provide a safe place for them to put them so they stay engaged. If there are any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.