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The Great Phone Fight

Schools today have more rules and regulations than ever before it seems. It has become the schools’ job to enforce so many rules with zero tolerance policies that it is encroaching on the learning process in this educators mind. If we focused on teaching our students norms and proper conduct, I believe we would need fewer rules. Numerous teachers have made strides to break down these hidden norms and implicitly teach students what types of behaviors are appropriate and what are not. This logic should then be extended to technology as well in order to foster more appropriate technology interactions in the classroom. If a teacher could reduce the number of rules governing technology to a few specific rules and most conduct would be considered basic tech etiquette that would be adopted as general practice in the entire school. This would reduce the number of different rules that students would have to remember and it would teach our students to better employees. This last part is often over looked by many educators, we as teachers are helping our students to good citizens in general and a large component of that is how to be a good employee.

Let’s Be Clear What Etiquette Is

Etiquette is as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary: the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. These can be interpreted as the more concrete and defined set of social norms. In recent years education has talked about hidden or undefined practices of classrooms and the undefined/hidden norms for social interactions between teachers and student and students. As teachers we have to give into the fact that our students have more tech on them than ever before; tablets, phones (or two), Chromebooks, laptops, etc. We as professionals often have at least our cell phones on at most times as well. This year in my classroom I tried something new, I embraced the technology. I have allowed students to use their phones and tablets and laptops if they so desire to. I have however put together a setup of basic etiquette rules that we all have to follow and after that I have three strike policy at which time offending device gets turned over to administration and they handle everything from there.


Why did I move my classroom to this type of etiquette based model? It is simple, I got tired of fighting with students/parents about loopholes and if I was justified in taking a student’s device away or not. So I am going to teach technology etiquette rather than enforcing rules. If you look around modern office or workspace you will see other professionals using their mobile devices to get work done, why shouldn’t we do that here in schools? The basic etiquette rules that I have put together are really just reworked version of the basic manners we all learned as children.

Technology Etiquette:

  1. If someone is talking/interacting with you technology is put away.

  2. Permission is asked, never implied.

  3. You need to be focused on what you are doing not your device.

  4. If you must do task (i.e. time sensitive) remove yourself with the groups permissions.

  5. There are always exceptions at the leader’s discretion.

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