I read about innovation every day on Twitter, educational blogs, and in my news feeds. I have seen other districts coming up with solutions for cell phones in their schools but thought that Addison would be a little behind on this. I sat in a board meeting a couple of years ago and listened to a board member propose guidelines that would restrict cell phones because of the potential hazards that come with cell phone use in the classroom. The board member made arguments that I disagreed with internally but did not speak out against because I didn’t have an alternative solution.
Last week I received this email from Chad VanSickle, Dean of Students for our Jr/Sr High Schools:
Realizing that we will never please everyone with a single policy- I am going to ask for opinions on which direction to go with the personal electronic devices (phones, ipods, ipads, Nooks, laptops, etc).We will be updating our handbook soon and this policy is obviously one that needs to be addressed. Currently, we are NOT enforcing the policy the way it is written in the handbook and I don’t want that to happen again next year.I have looked at other school policies and see pros/cons with all of them.
The one that I would feel best about adopting would basically give teachers/administrators some flexibility and also give students options/freedoms that come with responsibilities/consequences. Basically, the idea would be that different areas of the school would be open or closed to device usage based on signage that is placed on the walls for all to see.Green Signs- Go ahead and use your devices. (cafeteria/hallways/classroom)Yellow- Devices may be out with teacher/staff approval (classrooms/media center)Red- Absolutely no devices used or visible (bathrooms//classrooms)As the Assistant Principal in charge of discipline, I feel it is important that our policy can be effectively enforced, while at the same time allowing for teacher discretion depending on activities/curriculum/etc…
As simple as that the discussion has begun. Many responses came in and most were very supportive of this policy. I have written on many occasions that we need to find a way to harness the dual core technology that the students have in their pockets. I started playing with Socrative last week and it is very cool. I can only imagine what our teachers will do with the technologies available once they start allowing students to use their cell phones.