Classroom Management Strategy: How To Effectively Manage Mobile Phones In The Classroom

classroom management Jan 03, 2020

Classroom management strategies and school policies regarding mobile phones vary from setting to setting, so the way you address this problem will depend on the school/college’s overall viewpoint. If the establishment you’re working in has a definite rule and consequences in place regarding students and the use of phones, you can treat this as any usual behaviour problem and consistently stick to the policy.

This can be such a huge problem, with students being so passionate about their phones, that enforcing the rules can be difficult but here are four Classroom Management Strategies you could consider:

Strategy 1: Pre-empt and negate the need to take emergency calls.

Students will always give the excuse that they need to be able to receive emergency calls from home on their phones. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t but by sending a card home with the school/college number on and the assurance that any message will be passed on to the student immediately, you remove this excuse for needing to have a mobile phone in class.

Strategy 2: Offer texting time.

This can only be used where the setting has no clear procedure regarding the use of phones. If clear rules are in place you obviously can’t be seen to openly abuse them; however if the issue is left up to you to sort out in your own way, you could consider offering students a few minutes at the end or middle of the lesson as a spontaneous reward for completing a task. The theory behind this is fairly obvious - a teacher who is fair and who tries to accommodate their students' wishes tends to enjoy more respect than one who is overly controlling. 

Strategy 3: Use peer pressure.

Set up an agreement with students whereby they can have an early finish/extra break time/computer access/video show (insert reward of your choice)  in return for losing five minutes of this preferred activity time every time a phone is heard/seen/used in class. 

Strategy 4: Encourage the use of phones as learning tools.

Mobile phones now have hundreds of applications that can be effectively used to enhance education. While most public schools don’t allow the devices because they’re considered distractions, some schools and teachers have started to put the technology to positive use and this (quite surprisingly) seems to have led to a decline in inappropriate phone use during lessons.

At the most basic level, a mobile phone can provide a basic suite of useful classroom tools. A class full of mobile phones means there is a full set of calculators and stopwatches right there that are able to be used without the need for explanation, and without much risk of any being stolen or lost.

Most phones have cameras and while in the past students always had to draw diagrams to show their scientific method and to record evidence, now they can take a picture instead. It gives them something that they can put straight into a report.

Text messaging provides a means of communication which is a) immediate, b) easy to use and c) preferred by students. Sending regular reminders to students by text message (SMS) will be better received and less likely to be viewed as ‘nagging’ than face to face instruction; some students prefer to communicate through text rather than face to face contact. If it will help engage a difficult student or encourage a shy one to participate, why not utilise the technology?

Quick ideas for using mobile phones in school:

Timing experiments with the stopwatch feature
Photographing apparatus and results of experiments for reports
Photographing development of design models for e-portfolios
Photographing texts/whiteboards for future review
Bluetoothing project material between group members
Receiving SMS & email reminders from teachers
Recording a teacher reading a poem for revision
Creating short narrative films using video
Downloading, listening to and translating foreign language podcasts
Answering questions delivered via podcasts
Using GPS to identify locations
Transferring files between school and home
Translate information into ‘text speak’ (or have students translate information into Text Language as part of a review exercise)
Use text to pass on information for discussion
Use text to answer questions in a quiz – text the answer to an email or phone
Send random questions to class members
As an end-of-lesson review activity – students record by voice or text the key points learned and then save them in a suitable folder on their phones or text them to each other
Planning world domination (iPhone apps available for this one)

Want more resources to help you achieve Classroom Management Success? I offer three main resources for teachers:

  1. My range of books on Amazon: You can find them here or by entering ‘Rob Plevin classroom management’ in the Amazon search bar at
  1. My free classroom management tips service by email. You can sign up here!
  1. My Facebook page. Here you’ll find tips and strategies as well as questions and support from like-minded teachers. Come and join us here!

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