In the UK, phones are definitely up there amongst a teacher’s worst nightmares. Not only do teachers have to make sure students aren’t using them in class, our pastoral duties require us to deal with an array of issues arising from social media platforms. Some lessons just feel like a vortex: you can see all of your meticulous lesson planning being sucked into this black hole that is that one student who keeps smiling down at his/her crotch and/or refusing to hand over their phone. Moments like these make you want to turn into this guy…
Some schools are so stringent they even police teachers’ usage of phones at break or lunch. After all, teachers are supposed to set the standard right?
‘What if it’s an emergency phone call?’
You should give the school number as the first point of contact.
‘What if it’s a call relating to my medical issues, say from the doctor’s surgery?’
Schedule it for after work. By the way, today you’re staying till 5.30, remember? Training session.
Teachers have to compromise so much in the name of professionalism and vocation, from weekends and evenings to simply checking their phones at break time.
In my current school in Qatar, I love that there is a much more relaxed attitude and a healthier work life balance. Yes, we still have stressful days and heavy workloads (that’s the reason behind this day-late post by the way, I was just hoping no one noticed), but in comparison to the UK, I’m happier. And as for phones, well.
At the start of the year, I wanted to reinforce rules and break the ice with a new class. I asked my class to prepare and perform two short performances. In the first, they had to show the worst possible learning environment (in their opinion) and in the second, a learning environment they hope to have this year. It was fun and funny.
In one scenario, it was the typical scene: badly behaved students, turning up late without equipment. The student playing the teacher later shared how it made her feel frustrated to the point where she wanted to scream in their faces. Yep, welcome to our world.
In another, the teacher simply did not take any notice of bad behaviour and couldn’t care less about the well behaved students waiting with their hands up.
The one I’ll always remember though was one where the teacher was glued to her phone. She snapped at the kids to copy from the textbook and then proceeded to start a personal phone call in class!
I thought: flippin heck, does this really happen in schools?
(Where do I sign up? lol)
And if so, how do those teachers get away with it? Don’t get me wrong: I use my phone in school too. Being able to do so is a huge convenience for me. When it’s my turn to write the department minutes, I type them on my phone and email them out straight away because ain’t nobody got time to double write stuff. And when I need to calculate marks, check emails, write a quick blog post, or join in with some staff-room-whatsapp-snapchat banter – out comes my phone. But, that is the extent of it for my colleauges and I.
Is it right for teachers to take private calls in class or spend teaching time texting away? Or is it right for a school to expect teachers to switch their phones off as soon as they enter the school gates, just like the students?
I’d love to know: what are the rules surrounding phones in your workplace and do these rules make your day to day life harder or easier?
Read more from the October writing challenge.