High school photography teacher Michael Lee noticed a troubling trend among his students, and decided to try something new to create a better learning environment for his class.
Lee became concerned last year when he noticed his students were rushing through their classwork so they could savor a few extra moments on their phones.
Photography is an art form that takes time and focus to learn and perfect. When a student rushes through the process, important learning cannot take place.
Lee noticed that his students were spending less time outside finding the perfect photo opportunity, instead, rushing back to class to haphazardly edit the photo digitally.
Their minds, it seemed, were always drawn back to the comfort of their smartphones.
“I just needed to do something different,” said Lee, who teaches at Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington.
Lee understood that his students were constantly distracted by the barrage of alerts, texts and the temptation of checking social media.
So he did a little research, and found a cell phone locker system that has worked beautifully in his class.
Lee decided to implement the system at the beginning of this school year, requiring students to lock up their cell phones at the start of his class.
The cubbies are large enough to safely lock and store individual cell phones. As a bonus, the students can even charge their phones while it’s locked inside the cubby.
Out of sight, out of mind seems to be working in Lee’s class.
“My overall goal was to give kids an opportunity to engage in what they’re doing,” Lee told KREM-TV. “And that’s hard to do when every few seconds or few minutes there’s a beep on your phone and you have to check what it is.”
He said student focus and higher-quality work has returned to his class. Students aren’t even complaining about the new system.
“No one has said to me, ‘Mr. Lee, can I please not lock up my phone?’ They’ll just walk in, lock it up,” Lee said. “They get to work, and that’s exactly the intention of it.”
“I’ve noticed students are talking more about photography because that’s kind of the thing that’s in front of them at the time not what’s happening on social media,” Lee said.
Students are eager to get their phones back at the end of class, but now, they at least have the satisfaction of completing some hard work, first.
Lee said that parents have been supportive of the system, and several of his colleagues have considered doing the same thing.
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