Teachers everywhere are still trying to answer the question of how to prevent students from being distracted by their phones in class.
It truly is a pressing issue; after all, students are not using their phones exclusively for entertainment purposes. Students are also using them for research, staying connected with other teachers and classmates, and when working on lessons as well.
But it’s understandable for teachers to want to keep their students’ attention engaged and focused in class discussions because it can really be a dismaying sight to see a room full of students staring at their screens instead of you, their teacher.
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Fortunately, there are multiple ways to encourage students to put down their phones during class discussions, and you might be even surprised that some of them may even require them to actually use their smartphones!
How to prevent students from being distracted by their phones: 5 Practical Ways!
1.) Set clear expectations and rules for your classroom
Beforehand, it’s important for you to set clear expectations as it is an important part of managing your students’ behavior and keeping the distractions in class to a minimum (a.k.a. their phones).
You’re better off with you explaining and your students understanding the reason why it’s important for them to follow the rules and expectations that you are implementing in class.
When they understand the reason why you need them focused in class and not distracted by their phones, they will more likely abide and follow your rules of limiting the use of their phones within your classroom premises.
Also, when setting expectations for students, make sure that they are crystal clear and specific as well. Because you don’t want students to be confused and chatting with each other asking questions like, “Wait—what does that mean?” or “Is this allowed?”.
Your goal should be for them to know what is expected of them at all times. To illustrate, while smartphones have many benefits for students as they can give them access to learning tools and apps, they can also disconnect students from face-to-face activities.
And for this reason, teachers should implement guidelines on when students are allowed to use their phones for certain classroom activities. But other than that, the use of their phones should be kept to a minimum to keep classroom discussions engaging and productive.
2.) Don’t ban phones in the classroom
No matter how tempted you may be to ban your students’ phones in the classroom—don’t. We must accept the fact that smartphones and other digital devices are here to stay.
A lot of teachers end up banning phones in their classrooms, but on the contrary, this is actually not a good idea. Because no matter what students will always find ways to use their phones anyways.
So the best thing to do is just let them be, but as I have previously stated, set clear expectations and rules in regards to phone use while they’re in the classroom.
3.) Find ways to incorporate their phones into class activities
If you can’t beat them, join them! Instead of stressing yourself in keeping your students away from their phones why not use it to your advantage in enriching the learning environment in your classroom?
After all, that’s the great thing about smartphones, not only are they there to entertain, but they’re also there to help us educate students as well.
There are a lot of great apps for both teachers and students to use, some can help teachers give quizzes for the class, track students’ progress, take attendance, and even help teachers communicate with parents if they need assistance at home.
There are also great apps that can help students stay on task and even showcase their projects and activities and share them with others as well.
You can also try to set up a schedule for phone use in your classroom, where they will strictly and only use their phones to gather resources and materials for a certain project or group work in class.
4.) Use an app to create a “phone-free” zone in your classroom
Let’s be honest, self-discipline may well be one of the greatest challenges that students face during their learning years.
So, if you need a little backup in enforcing a phone-free zone in your classroom, then I highly suggest installing an app on your students’ devices that will help block out any distracting app or website—and the best part about it is that it’s completely free!
You might want to try out the app called “Freedom” which is an app that will help your students reclaim their focus and reduce distraction. It can be used by Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android users.
5.) Be consistent and strict with your phone policy
If you find your current phone policy in your classroom to be effective, then you have to enforce it consistently without fail.
In addition to enforcing your phone policy in your classroom, you can also opt to reward good behavior with incentives like giving out fun stickers or candy as incentives or maybe giving them extra 15 minutes of free time on their phone which could also be just as effective at encouraging good behavior in class.
Applying natural consequences for any unruly behavior in class like detention or having their device taken away for a certain period of time will also hopefully keep them from habitually breaking the rules.
In a nutshell,
Phones may have a plethora of benefits for students but they should still be used sparingly, especially in face-to-face discussions and activities where their sole focus is needed.
Because nothing can replace the adrenaline of learning something new and the irreplaceable exchange of ideas that they should be experiencing in class.
The environment in class contributes to how well they can focus, that’s why teachers can’t emphasize enough how vital it is for a classroom to have little to no distractions during class time.
So there you have it—five practical ways you can try out to once and for all banish the menace mobile craze from your classroom!
Until our next one, Good luck and Godspeed!