Sunday, September 22, 2013

“Give me a referral.” I don’t. Leaves anyway.

“Cell phones away please.  If they are out I will take them, sell them on E-Bay, and you’ll be famous for someone putting you in a scene twerking with Miley Cyrus.”

I subbed for another teacher this week, just one period only.  Within that period I had to be meany face and take the phones of those who failed to heed my warning.  One student gave me the phone and within thirty seconds this took place.

“I want my phone back.”

“You aren’t getting your phone back.”

“I want it back.”

“You’ll get it later.”

“I want it now.”


“Think so?”

Yes, this is a challenge from a high school student.  While this conversation is taking place I’m trying to give directions the teacher left me, my back being to the student.  I’m heard this before, although it’s been many years since I’ve had one so blatantly challenge me because I primarily teach Seniors, and I have a reputation for no bullshit.  So my response?

“Oh, absolutely.” (with a grin)

I stand 6’2” tall and weigh 250.  Fear plays no part in the decision to tell him “no”, although I already foresee what’s coming.  The kid didn’t not get the reaction he was looking for from a normal sub.  And here it comes….

“Fine then.  Just give me a referral and my phone back and I’ll go up to the office.”

This is the connection to the phone talking, and giving in to that impulse actually diminishes the value of the class and gives power over to the electronic device.  The point is to keep students in the room. 


“Well forget this then.  I’m out of here!”

The student left the room.  At this point the situation has now escalated to being out of my control, and my concentration needs to be on the 33 other bodies in the classroom.  I act like the event didn’t happen and the rest of the class (50 minutes) goes off without a problem. 

I found the student in the discipline office waiting for, you guessed it, his phone.  I gave cell phone referrals for those that complied with the hand-over, and the one student received a cell phone violation, defiance, and a cut.  I gave them to the admin who promptly gave them to the students as it was the last period of the day and the issue would be dealt with the next morning. 

I think the situation went well.  Now, some might take issue with the fact that the taking of the phone led to student removal from class.  Some might say “was it worth it” to have that not go through the day’s lesson simply because he was on an electronic device.  I would respond by saying that the kid had a choice. 

I often lurk in places on Twitter and the Edublogosphere that are really big into student choice in terms of learning styles, pacing, and overall classroom instruction.  What I find interesting is that the choice issue isn’t brought up when the child fails to behave.  The student knew the rules, broke the rules, and then chose that the device was more important than the learning.  It was a bad choice.  My choice was to concentrate my energy on the other students that wanted to remain in the class to learn. 

Sometimes the edu-community forgets that a massive amount of energy is spent focusing on the few that get into trouble, thus ignoring those that also need that education (and energy), and are there ready for teachers to go at it.  

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