In each classroom, you’ll find a poster that writes:
NO PHONES IN CLASS AT EAST
At East High School, we care about your learning and mental health.
That is why phones will not be used or visible in class unless stated by your teacher.
Recurring issues with phones will result in conferences with families and referrals to the dean's office.
The roar of disapproval from students when the cell phone policy was addressed at the 2022 school assembly sums up the student population's reaction to the change. The policy itself isn’t new. In previous years, East’s “off the phones in classrooms” policy has been somewhat sparsely enforced and decisions around phones were mostly left up to teachers. This year, however, a group of teachers brought forward a plan to crack down on phone usage and make a more universal expectation.
A slide show presented to teachers before the school year began reveals that teachers have been asking the Student Leadership Team for a school-wide cell phone policy and the team gave them one. The slides encourage teachers to collect cell phones at the beginning of class and recommended that teachers “have a private conversation” if a student uses their phone during class, and “by the third instance (they use their phone), write a referral to the Deans.” However, despite this push for consistency, just as in previous years, the phone policy differs in each classroom depending on the teacher’s own rules. Senior Madison Allen explains that in French and Marine Biology, she is asked to put her phone in the phone holder, but in all of her AP and college level classes, teachers asked phones to be in a backpack, and “some teachers haven’t really said anything about it”. Madison believes that the phone policy “should be implemented for underclassmen, that way they get used to it. ”
Geography and African American History teacher Mr. Dysart believes that in previous years, East has been “extremely liberal with allowing students to use phones” and agrees that the policy is long overdue. Mr. Dysart is one of the teachers who introduced the cell phone policy before the start of the year. “The science supports that it’s hard for even adults to multitask. So when we have young high school students with young developing minds trying to multitask in class, on top of instruction… it can be a tumultuous task” he explains.
The long-term plan for cell phones isn’t all that far from Madison’s idea. Mr. Dysart described a plan where a standard around phones is set for Freshmen each year a new class enters 9th grade so that over time East creates an environment where technology isn't such a distraction. He explains that he makes his freshmen students put their phones in the rack on the wall, but allows upperclassmen to keep phones out of sight. “You have to have a compromise,” he elaborates, “We’ve helped you (upperclassmen) set the norm.” It seems that the new phone policy isn’t so much of a new school-wide expectation, as it is a long-term plan for future generations at East.