During the first two weeks of May, Las Lomas initiated a new cell phone policy pilot which 31 teachers at Las Lomas are applying to their classes. “We’re not in the business of social media. We’re not in the business of entertaining students. We’re in the business of educating students, and we want to be able to help students help themselves learn. We need not only the teachers to buy into it, but as well as having the policy in the classroom, we need the students to buy into it, learn how to control their behaviors, and we’d like to have the parents behind it too. Because sometimes parents are the ones who are contacting their kids in the middle of class,” said Mr. Giron, an associate principal and science teacher at Las Lomas.
An email was sent out to parents with articles about cell phone addiction, and the reason and use of the pilot. Teachers believe that without the use of phones during class, students’ overall grades will improve. In most classrooms, students are expected to deposit their phones in blue-numbered cubbies which are normally located in front of the room. Phones are expected to remain silent and located inside of the cubby throughout the class period. Although there are many teachers who have adopted the cubbies to implement the phone policy, there are some teachers, such as Ms. Gieleghem, a drama and English teacher at Las Lomas, who have not. “I have no problems with cell phones in my classroom… my students know better. The first time they have their cell phone out they get a referral… It just takes once and then they stop.”
There are mixed reactions among the teachers about the cell phone policy.. “Some students have a big smile on their face. They are kind of relieved and they appreciate the policy,” said Mr. Clark, a science teacher at Las Lomas. Other teachers such as Madome Mona, the French teacher at Las Lomas, do not see any affect on students. “…I do not see it is affecting them putting the cell phone [away], in fact, some of them really don’t care until I call them to pick it [their phones] up.”
Not all students believe that the cell phone policy is effective, some believe that the true problems rely in cell phone usage at home, or the block schedule in general. “I think that it is a good approach to the problem but I don’t think that taking it [ cell phones] away is the right idea… it doesn’t make anything any better, the classes are harder I think that the block schedule also pushes procrastination,”said Kyla Watkins, a sophomore.
Students have also found ways of fooling their teachers and keeping their phones with them during class. These ways can differ from students bringing two phones, or simply lying. “I do not think it [ the new phone policy ] is making anything better, or any thing worse… some people put old phones in their [cell phone] pocket and keep their phone, some of them lie and say that they don’t have it and some of them do put it in the pocket,” said Aimee Stump, a freshman at Las Lomas. There is also the fear of robbery, and although there are some teachers who doubt the probability of theft happening, as there is a set procedure for it. “If there is a phone missing I will hold all of the students here and then call the office, and if the phone is not retrieved then it will be treated like a lost of stolen item,” said Mr. Clark. Although some students are reluctant to give up their cell phones, others believe that the policy will help students. “I believe that the cell phone policy is only getting people upset because they are so attached to their phones, I think that the policy is a good idea because it keeps students more involved in class. Taking their [ students] phones away for an hour will be helpful for them,” said freshman student Sinead McLoughlin. Most students agree that the attachment some people have to their phones borders on addiction, of which teachers agree. “Looking at the apps themselves that constant kind of need for that dopamine hit, that attraction, that instant gratification and you want that feeling, very similar to nicotine… any sort of drug that you get addicted to, your brain then craves that, so I think the phones definitely do have some addictive tendencies in them to keep your eyeballs glued to the screen,” said Mr Clark. Phone addiction is also pinpointed as one of the reasons fo sleep loss, of which many students suffer from.
“You look at certain colors of phones and how they affect your brain late at night. The blue and the red lights in the phone keep you awake and effect the neurochemistry of your brain, affect the production of melatonin which helps you sleep. So, just the same ways those colors can influence you to stay up late,” said Mr Clark. Phone use is also thought to be a cause for mental health issues such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. “Cell Phones are the single most invasive technology that has ever been created by humanity and the’re having an impact on students ability to think and reason and on their emotional well being and on their health,” said Mr. Collins, an english teacher at Las Lomas.Teachers hope by next year the whole school will be following the new cell phone protocol.