I confiscated a child’s cell phone and told him he could pick it up at the office at the end of school. “I don’t need it anyway,” he said. Then he opened his school laptop and began playing a game. “I think your parents would think differently about that,” I said. “Can you please close your laptop and find something somewhat scholarly to do?” “I’m caught up with everything,” he said. You checked your assignments and there is nothing there for you to finish?” I said. “I don’t know you told me to put away my computer,” he said. “You can use it to check your assignments,” I said. “Shall I look with you?” “That won’t be necessary sir,” he said. “You don’t need to call me sir, you know,” I said. “Okay sir,” he said. “Can I use the bathroom?” “After you check your agenda and tell me if you have something to finish. I’d like to be able to tell your teacher you’re doing a good job keeping up,” I said. “I take it back, I don’t have to go to the bathroom anymore,” he said. He turned around and began talking with some friends, laughing, and playing with a girl’s hair. “Don’t touch me!” she said. “Don’t touch me!” he said. What follows work avoidance and the boredom that is sure to follow that, is usually disruption and using other people as objects for pleasure seeking. Of course, that’s not okay. “Please keep your hands to yourselves,” I said. “What, I wasn’t doing anything,” the boy said. “I just watched you touch her in slow motion practically,” I said. “That wasn’t touching. That was something else,” he said. “And this is you going to the office,” I said. “Yes sir,” he said. “I’ll call ahead and remind them you’ll be there soon,” I said. He gave me a salute. “At ease,” I said. “Now head to the office and think about how your behavior is serving you,” “I’m getting out of work, aren’t I?” he said. “Don’t forget to check your agenda book,” I said. “Don’t forget to check your annoying book,” he said. “Just checked it, and there’s plenty more annoying for me to catch up on,” I said. For years this kind of work avoidance and disrespect had escalated with many students, and though there were moments that seemed to suggest they were trying to be students again, overall, I saw nothing that suggested most were moving back in the direction of reason. Sure, there were outliers who tried hard at being students, but they were often made fun of or dismissed by students exhibiting avoidance, and blamed for being the reason there was no point at working hard, since even at their best, they couldn’t compete with, let me guess, the one who got it all right before the lesson was even finished.

3 thoughts on “The Cell Phone Confiscation

  1. Oh, this is really brings back many bad teaching moments for sure. Bless you for hanging in there with such students to deal with… I would never survive teaching these days. You are very brave teaching middle school kids!


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