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Phoning In The Excuses

| Learning | April 9, 2017

(Our school district has a strict policy about cell phones being used by students. They must be turned off and kept out of sight during the school day. If they are seen out, the teachers are directed to pick them up and turn them in to the office. The office then tallies how many times the particular student has violated the policy, to assess what penalty (fine, in-school suspension, etc.) is due. This school policy is detailed on flyers posted on the inside of nearly every classroom door. I am a teacher who has been displaced to another classroom because mine is needed for state testing. This seems to imply to my students that the class and school rules are suspended.)

Me: *seeing a girl using a cell phone to text, holding out my hand* “Phone.”

Girl: *after handing me her phone* “I get it back at the end of the period, right?”

Me: “No, it goes to the front office. They’ll sort out how you get it back.”

Girl: “But it’s my first time.”

Me: “It’s not my job to count, especially since I have 150 students. That’s the office’s job.”

Girl: *striding over to the bright green flyer on the door* “But it says right here that first time is a warning!”

Me: *going over and reading pertinent part of flyer loud enough for the whole class to hear* “First Offense: School employee picks up student cellphone and turns in to administration. Administration will return cellphone at the end of the instructional day (4:15 pm). Parent and student must sign for phone in the office.”

Girl: *dejectedly returns to seat*

(As part of the procedure, I enter the incident into a discipline database. When I pull up her record to add this incident, I see that it’s actually her fourth offense this school year (prior ones in other classes), which includes a $15 fine and two days in-school suspension.))

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