Teachers constantly tell students that phones create major distractions in class. This year, as a way to combat the issues that come along with phone usage, the GDS administration put shoe holders in every classroom as a place for students to store their phones when they enter class.
Dean of Students Bobby Asher was the driving force behind these phone holders. Asher said that the phone holders serve as a place for students to put their phones that is not in their pockets.
“The idea behind them was not to be intrusive, but a little more organized than putting your phones in a box,” he said.
Additionally, the purpose of the phone holders is not to be anti-technology; rather, they attempt to create an environment where technology does not dominate the classroom or students’ social experiences.
“I have obvious concern about the classroom experience of GDS kids,” Asher said. “But I am as concerned with their social experiences, too.”
Although the phone holders are meant to have a positive effect on classroom environments, many teachers and students, including Asher, found that they are in fact distracting. Junior Julia Pastreich explained how she believes the phone holders have a good intent, but that they are not the right way to approach the issue.
“I’m not totally opposed,” she said. “Because I do think we have a problem in our culture with phones, I just don’t know if this is the best long-term solution.”
In addition to finding them distracting, she mentioned that they actually make her use her phone more often. In her classes that use the phone holders, she picks up her phone after class and uses it in the hallway, as opposed to keeping it in her backpack.
English teacher Katherine Dunbar said she believes the phone holders are a step in the right direction, but does not use them in her classes. Instead of using the phone holders, Dunbar has her own solutions to combat distraction in the classroom. At the beginning of the year, she has an extensive discussion with her students about her policies surrounding phone usage. Dunbar asks students to keep their phones away unless there is a family emergency, and during class, she gives students a break where they can check their phones. For Dunbar, this seems to be the right solution.
“I hope that it shows students that the faculty is united about how we want genuine engagement in each of our classes, but each classroom is fanning a different path towards that engagement. And that feels very GDS to me,” Dunbar said.
Around the school, teachers worry about how phones affect the social and academic lives of students. Although the phone holders are not a widely used and applauded solution, they demonstrate how GDS teachers and administration are set on finding the answers to address technology in the classroom.
By: Abby Brickman’ 20