Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.


The number of students who possess their own device is growing.  So true is the number of students who bring said devices into the classroom.  Whether you incorporate the use of student devices into your lessons or not, we found 3 creative ways you can manage student cell phones in your classroom.


  1. Using a Stoplight Management Approach (Edutopia.org)
    The stoplight management approach allows teachers some flexibility to use cell phones when the situation warrants, but also to keep cell phones from becoming a diversion from the learning. This is how it works:Post a red button on the classroom door: Students know when they enter that cell phones should be put in their off location. The devices will not be used that day. The teacher should decide on the off location—the upper right-hand corner of the desk and turned face down, or away in backpacks, or in pocket holders on the teacher’s desk—the cell phone parking lot.Post a yellow button on the classroom door: Students know their cell phones should be on silent (vibrate) and placed face down in the upper right-hand corner of their desk. They will be using them in class, but not the whole time. Having the phones in plain sight—a bit out of reach and turned over—allows the teacher to easily scan the room to see who doesn’t have their device where it should be. It also makes it difficult for students to quickly peek at their text messages because they’d have to turn the phone over and move it from its correct position—which is more difficult than when cell phones are hidden under desks.

    Post a green button on the classroom door: Students know they should have their phones turned on (either silenced or set on vibrate) and placed face up in ready position to use.



  1. Create A Cell Phone Jail (TeachThought.com)
    Have you ever tried to have students leave their cell phones in their lockers and a mysterious glow comes from under their desk? I got tired of the cell phone shuffle and created a cell phone jail. My students had to check in their phones when class started. This accountability and equity eventually leads to focused minds in the classroom.





  1. Cell Phone Parking Lot (TheTeacherToolKit.com)
    Make an area in your classroom where students can store and/or charge their cell phone.  An idea would be to use a hanging shoe storage bag with individual pockets for each cell phone.  Put a large number or picture on each pocket so that students can easily identify where they have stored their phones   Option:  Provide one or two power strips where students can plug in their phone in the “parking lot” for charging.


Teach students your class cell phone procedure.
Sample cell phone procedure:


  • When entering the classroom you may keep your phone out of sight in your purse or pocket. Or, you may store or charge your phone in the cell phone parking lot.
  • If you choose to use the cell phone parking lot for storage, place your phone in one of the numbered pockets. Remember the number where your phone is “parked” or write it down in your notebook.
  • If you choose to use the cell phone parking lot for charging, use your own charging cord. Plug your phone in to one of the power strips and then place your phone (still connected) into one of the lower pockets in the cell phone parking lot.
  • The cell phone parking lot is only accessible before and after class. If you plan to store or charge your phone, you may not go and get it during class time.
  • If your phone is not in the cell phone parking lot and is causing a distraction from work in class, you will be directed to “park” your phone and you may pick it up after class.
  • Students who do not comply or have repeated requests to park their phones will have their phones “towed.”  A “towed” phone will be stored in the teacher’s desk and will not be returned until parents have been contacted.


Monitor student phone use during class. When students are improperly using their cell phones, direct them to park their phones in the cell phone parking lot.  Encourage proper use of cell phones by regularly thanking students for remembering to use the cell phone parking lot.


In addition to having a classroom strategy for managing student devices, don’t forget to check out your school or district policy regarding cell phones and other devices that are not the property of the school or district.  If your classroom system conflicts with the building policy, you may need to meet with your administrator.


How do you manage student devices in your classroom?



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