By Jonathon Chiu
The ringing of an incoming call, the ding of a text message being received, the buzzing of a phone vibrating: these are common occurrences for users of cellphones and ones that can be potentially distracting from the lessons taught in school.
At the start of this school year, a group of staff members decided to implement a phone plan with students being required to place them into designated bags to better their concentration on a teacher's lessons.
Members of the faculty have expressed their support for the phone plan and its mission, with this support even coming from those who were originally skeptical of it.
“I was extremely sceptic at first, but it's won me over,” said Mr. Kraft, a US Government & Economics and German language teacher, “I think the policy accomplishes its primary goal of improving student focus, but I have definitely noticed improvements in the hallway as well. I've also been in open dialogue with the students about how, contrary to my original opinion, the phone policy has been a huge improvement.”
A survey sent to a group of 46 students somewhat supports Mr. Kraft’s statement, as 13 students said that not having their phone in view helped them to have an increased attention span while in class. Some teachers have also been in dialogue with their students and have made adjustments to how they implement the plan as a result such as adding breaks in between lessons, allowing phone usage for pressing matters.
“If students have an emergency or issue, they can communicate [with] me and I make exceptions from time to time,” said Mr. Dunstan, an English Language Arts teacher.
Many students have expressed their dissatisfaction towards the phone plan as well, with 14 students who participated in the survey, when asked to rate the plan from a scale of 1 to 10, gave it a rating of 1, with a senior who voted with the group calling the plan “kinda dumb.”
Despite the 13 students who did say they saw improvements in their attentiveness towards lessons when their phone was not in view, there were 24 participants who said they had seen no change. Meanwhile, eight of the 46 participants said they saw a lack of improvement in their attention spans.
“No one follows the phone plan.” said a junior who participated in the survey, “not many teachers get so mad about it.”
While students and staff at Freedom may have differing views on the phone plan for various reasons, it is more lenient when compared to similar plans implemented in other school districts, with the Pittsburgh and Penn Hills school districts distributing “Yondr pouches” equipped with magnetic locks that students must place their phones in until the end of the school day. Middle schools in the BASD such as East Hills also allowed students to have their phones out when the teacher was not instructing, but would be taken away if they were too much of a distraction. These are two of the various directions that Freedom can take in the evolution of the phone plan, with the reactions of both students and faculty being just as unpredictable.