By now you’ve heard that a lot of high school teachers hate cellphones. We may own them ourselves and our kids may have them, but we hate them with a passion.
When I leave school on Friday afternoon, I’d like to go up to the first person I see, scream, “Get off your phone!” and run away. But I don’t. I just go home and collapse.
But did you know that those AirPods on every kid’s Christmas list have added a new circle of hell to the Inferno for Teachers?
I’ve been a high school teacher for six years.
Here are some of the things I’ve heard from kids when I ask them to put their phones away and participate in class:
“Can I just finish this game?”
“You can’t take my phone. You didn’t pay for it.”
“I have ADD. I can’t pay attention to anything unless I’m listening to music.”
“My mom will be mad if you take my phone.”
Here are some of the things I’ve heard from parents when I tell them their kids aren’t learning because they only want to play on their phones:
“Go ahead and take her phone if you have to. She gets anxiety and cries if I take it.”
“He’s bigger than me. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
As parents are saying these things, I don’t think it occurs to them that 1) Their kids are bigger than me, too, and 2) If they’re afraid to take a phone from one kid, how can they expect me to take phones from 30 of them three times a day?
Don’t think for a second that I don’t sympathize with parents. I am one, and my kids spend a ridiculous amount of time playing video games and making TikToks. They would be better off reading, writing, running, doing volunteer work, making slime, baking cookies, or God forbid, helping out around the house. They know how I feel about this. I don’t let them forget.
The new thing every teen has dangling from the ears is AirPods — wireless headphones. It would be great if these really were just an accessory, an additional distraction, related to the already proliferate cellphones. But AirPods have actually created a whole new category of classroom disruptions. Now, kids can listen to music coming from a classmate’s cellphone. You hear the music, but you don’t know where it’s coming from. Kids think it’s hilarious if 10 minutes of class time goes to waste as I try to figure out who I should politely ask to turn the music off.
Not only that, but AirPods come in a very small case. Sometimes they fly across the room when kids throw them to each other. They end up on the floor, sometimes under my desk. We have to stop class to retrieve them.
Another thing kids like to do is forget their AirPods in another classroom. This is a great reason to ask for a pass to go look for the AirPods. It’s hard to say no when they explain that they cost $159.
That’s correct. One hundred and fifty-nine dollars.
More than 90% of the problems I have with students are caused by cell phones or music from cellphones. I’ve seen several kids fail classes and tests because of their addiction. Even smart, responsible teens would be smarter and more responsible if they weren’t constantly on their phones.
Kids today have basically become one with their devices. The good news is, they go to sleep if you unplug them. But I really don’t want them sleeping in class. It would be great if they could get off their phones and put away the AirPods long enough to get a good night’s sleep, and leave their toys at home while they’re in school. A teacher can dream …
That’s why my kids aren’t getting AirPods this Christmas. Not from me, anyway. They don’t need another expensive toy that will keep them from being present and accountable and would probably get lost within the year.