Yes, I did take your child’s phone.

The classroom policy is clear.

Phones are not allowed in Mr. Palowitch’s classroom.

Your student knows that phones must be away and out of sight during class. You and your child signed the syllabus where this policy is stated.

If I see a phone, I will take it. I will attach a piece of tape to the phone with their name and period written on it. The phone is turned into the attendance office where the student can pick it up at the end of the day. The attendance office records the offense, and on the second occurence, you will receive a phone call.

There are rare times I allow phones to be used for schoolwork. Emphasis on the word “schoolwork“. When students have time in class to complete their math work and there is time remaining, I will clearly state that students may use the rest of the class to do schoolwork. Mine is a working classroom; not a gaming room, not a social gathering, not a music sharing party. They can look up their grades on Q, look up assignments, do research, and read. That is schoolwork.

If I took your child’s phone it is for one of two reasons.

  1. During class, the student was using their phone. Usually they are using it in a manner where they think I can not see them. Really. They really think so. They’ll learn quickly enough.
  2. When phones can be used for schoolwork, they were using it for non-schoolwork. Again, they are using it in a manner where they think I don’t know what they are doing. Really. They really think so. It is obvious what gaming behavior looks like. It is obvious what facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram user interfaces look like. It is obvious that showing/sharing your phone in a jovial manner is not schoolwork. It is obvious that when you are wearing a hoodie you just might be hiding your earbud wires or airpods.

You can help by letting your child know you understand and support the policy 100%. Let your child know you expect them to utilize the entire class time for learning. Make sure your student has a book in their backpack to read in the unusual event they have no homework.

If your student comes home and exclaims “Mr. Palowitch took my phone!”, it might just help to say, “Good for you!”

When Murphy Calls

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” — Murphy’s Law

Last Fall, Murphy called, unannounced, as usual.

I was in the second week of being a new high school Algebra and Geometry teacher. Ten minutes into a ninety minute block period in the middle of a lecture using a computer and projector, the power went out in the classroom.

Most power interruptions are brief. “Class – let’s wait a few seconds for the power to come back on.” After checking a few of the other outlets and sixty seconds later I went to the next door classroom to see if they have power. They do. When I return, the classroom was in the beginning stages of out-of-control buzz.

Grabbing the textbook I said “From what we’ve just covered, you should be able to do the first 5 homework problems. Take out a sheet of paper and begin.” That should last about ten minutes I said to myself.

I placed a call to the administration office and requested (probably demanded) the maintenance staff come over to help. When they arrived, I asked they run a long extension cord out the window from the neighboring classroom into my classroom window and up to the front desk. All I need is the computer and projector to run.

The maintenance staff went off to get started and I stood in front of the class. Most of them had finished the first five problems. “Alright, let’s see if I can remember my lecture!” The screen went up and the marker started to fly across the whiteboard.

I don’t remember if I made any sense. In those early days of teaching I had my ‘script’ down to the sentence and practiced the night before. I am sure I skipped a few key points. The maintenance staff returned and proceeded to run the extension cord between the two classrooms out through the window. I assigned the remaining homework problems so I could assist with the power cord.

With a little climbing, acrobatics and disappearing beneath dusty desks, I had power to the computer and projector. I thanked the maintenance staff and resumed the lecture. I did indeed skip key points and needed to review a few problem solving examples.

The power cord out the window remained in place for most of the day.

I learned later the classroom on the other side was having maintenance. An electrician had pulled the circuit breaker for that classroom and unknowingly cut power to my classroom.

When Murphy calls, be ready to improvise, demonstrate problem solving to your students and be flexible.

When has Murphy called on you? Tell us your story of how you answered his call!