Thursday, August 1, 2019

Teaching Self-Regulation

I feel like my posts of late on falling into a little trend of teaching students skills that aren't content related, but more "working world" skills. Last week was organization, checking emails and to-do lists (click HERE). This week I'm tackling a whole new skill that I've been wanting to write about it for awhile now, and even though I have a million other things I could be doing. I need to get this out there.

Today's topic that keeps going through my mind is... Cell Phones and Self Regulation.

Students having cell phones has never been an issue for me. When I was teaching middle school, most kids kept their phones in their locker (if they even had one). Occasionally one would go off in class and I'd ignore it. No biggie. HS kids weren't allowed to have them at all.

But things are different this year. I have high school kids coming into my classroom in two weeks armed with a cell phone...that they are very comfortable using. I have gone back and forth on what my 'policy" will be. Most teachers classrooms have one of those calculator hanger things for kids to put their phones in at the start of class. And it's a good policy to have...


(You sensed a but coming, right??)

There's a larger reality to kids having their cell phones than just playing Angry Birds during a teacher lecture. (Dated myself there didn't I...does anyone even play Angry Birds anymore?) The truth is...that cell phones will be (and are) a part of the working world. How many of you, reading this blog have your phone within 2 feet from you? How many people working their jobs right now have their phones on them, in their purse, on their desk or even have it connected to their watches?

I bet it's an overwhelming majority.

The REALITY of cell phones, is that they're here to stay. They are part of the lives of our high school kids and will be when they go off to college and start their first job (although they may look/act different).

Just taking away student's phones doesn't help prepare them for the world out there. The world that is going to expect them to be able to complete tasks, attend meetings, and flat out function while having their phones with them.

They need to learn to self-regulate! 

It is a HUGE and NECESSARY skill, and one that we MUST TEACH! As all of this has been running in my head, I came across this Tweet from Glenn Weibe. Which just gave me even more motivation.

So...I'm going to use my cell phone policy to teach kids how to self regulate. I will have one of those calculator pouches to hang phones in...but it will be voluntary (for the most part). Explaining to students that being able to function with a cell phone on them or right next to them is a skill that they must have in order to be successful in today (and tomorrow's?) world. If they have their phone, they are expected to...
  • Focus on the work at hand 
  • Listen respectfully 
  • Participate in class 
  • Be a good person
If they can't do that (at the ages of 14-17) then, THEY need to recognize the problem and regulate it by placing the phone in the pouches. If they can't recognize the problem...that's where I come in and give them a simple nudge in the right direction. 

Here's the next part... This goes for ME TOO. They will see my phone in there too. Sometimes I struggle to stay focused, when I just want to watch the cute video I took of my kids the previous day. What's good for them is good for me too...I will MODEL self-regulation with the cell phone as much as possible. They need to see that it is possible. And a great way for me to show them the same respect I ask of them in return. 

Author's Note: I am fully aware that this will be a BIG learning year for me. I know that I will be doing a lot of reflecting and adjusting as time goes by. This may be a big flop...but when the need for student self regulation is so great...this is the best way for me to teach it from day one. Stay tuned to see how this plays out! 

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