Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cell Wars

It's nearly the end of the year. The 8th graders are getting crazy. I'm having to clamp down on things that up to now haven't been a problem.

Today we were watching a movie. "Akeelah and the Bee". They took their finals yesterday and Tuesday; next week they do their promotion exercises. It's kind of a dead time. But if I let them just "chill", I end up with a very loud, very out of control class (been there, done that), so I insist on silence. And I go after the other distractions.

At the beginning of each period I announced that any cell phone that I saw, heard, or was made aware of would be subject to confiscation, and that I would turn that cell phone in to the office. I granted them one minute to retrieve their devices and turn them off (or silence them--whatever), and then I started the movie. And the lights were off.

It was the light that I noticed. The room wasn't that dark (we had a couple windows), but cell phone light was still noticeable. I got up and headed for the boy. He futilely attempted to hide the thing. Too late. It was now mine.

The boy and his friend approached me at the end of the period. They wanted the cell phone back. And so I got the whole story. The boy wanted to see the time (even though there is a clock on the wall at the front of the classroom--easily visible). But it wasn't even his cell phone: that's why the second boy was there--it was his phone. So, then they claimed that the second boy was showing off his new cell phone to the first boy.

My questions: (1) Why didn't they look at the neat new cell phone at a not-in-class time, like lunch? (2) Why didn't they check the clock on the front wall for the time? And, (3) Why were they griping now after I had given them fair warning of what would happen?

They had answers for all of these, but each answer brought me back to my three questions. The argument quickly went full circle twice, and that's where I ended it. I was not giving the cell phone back. The boy would just have to get it from the office. (Well, actually his mom would have to, and the boy muttered something about how upset she was going to be.)

The second boy came back by after school. He was going to try to talk me into giving him his cell phone back again. Too late. I turned the device in to the office at lunch.

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