Working teachers at Sequoia High School have different approaches on listening to music during class, and we believe that it is completely fine to listen to it, however only during independent work time.
As sophomores, we believe being able to use your phone for music in class allows you to have more freedom. It’s the student’s responsibility to demonstrate they will not abuse the privilege of listening to music during class.
However, some teachers have a different approach. For example, Spanish teacher Martha Sigala will send your phone immediately to the AVP office (Assistant vice principal) as soon as she sees your phone out. English teacher Timothee Allen and Chemistry teacher Johnathan Holcomb are a bit more lenient with music and phone usage during class. Either way, teachers agree that if having our phones affects our behavior or quality of our work, it will be taken away.
We agree with Holcomb and Allen’s strategy because their strategies allow students to have freedom and an opportunity to have music to help them focus and get work done more productively but they also are being fair if students take advantage of it.
Teachers who aren’t so fond of having music during class face the frustration of headphones being used during class.
“A portion of it can be disrespectful because I cannot tell if you are paying attention to me or not or just listening to your music,” Sigala said.
It’s hard to tell when students are using music respectfully during class but I would say, from my perspective, that there are about half of students who use it respectfully and half of students who don’t.
Some teachers do give students access to music and cell phone usage during class. They understand that it does help some students focus and helps them be productive while in class. However, once it turns into a distraction and gets taken advantage of while affecting your learning time, teachers actually do students the favor by asking them to put it away or take it away to help their students get back on task.
“I treat my students as adults, and that means I’m not going to tell you a whole lot of can and can’t do’s. However, when your work starts suffering or when your behavior starts suffering, that’s when I will step in because you have lost that privilege,” Allen said.
For teachers who aren’t so fond of music during class, one of the main reasons is because they want their students to focus.
“When I need students to focus on me and teaching and understanding that’s when I [would] rather have them be capable of not having that stuff in class,” Sigala said.
As the school year goes on, more rules are made to improve learning and help students focus and this can be seen with a new phone rule Holcomb created with the students. The students have to either put their phone in a pouch on a cabinet, or use the yellow card given to them by Holcomb and put that into the pouch. This is used to take attendance in his class and if you don’t have anything in the pouch you are marked tardy.
“Most students have phones, and if they don’t want to put their phones in the pouch then they have the yellow card because it should stay in your class binder always,” Holcomb said.
This specific rule that only Holcomb uses still gives some freedom to the students because it is not an order to put their phone in their pouch, however if one person keeps on pulling it out and it is a distraction then they should switch the yellow card with their phone to improve their focus in class. This rule is a lot more lenient than other teachers, because some teachers take the phone away and give it to the administrative vice principal until the end of the day.
This is why we agree with Holcomb’s approach because it gives students the freedom to still have our phones and listen to music when we can.
“When we have independent time and students want to listen to music and their phone is in the pouch then it is fine to take it out so if they want to listen to music they can during independent time,” Holcomb said.
This is what we want and a great approach to listening to music during class and phone usage because during independent time students should be able to listen to music because it helps productivity. However, since we’re still learning about responsibility this is why there is still a rule in place.
“I think students need to learn and practice how to self regulate their phone, because when you go to college or to work or whatever you do, you’re not going to have people pushing you to concentrate and if you haven’t learned how to do that it’s going to negatively affect you,” Holcomb said.
Additionally, some teachers have absolutely no rules regarding phones, and they teach you responsibility which is a necessary skill used in college and later in life.
“Part of the thing you’re supposed to be learning here is personal responsibility, and how to manage your time and stuff like that. Phones, headphones, all that they’re a fact of our lives. As soon as you leave high school, there’s [not] gonna be anyone really around to say, ‘don’t do this or don’t do that’. So part of it is that I want my students to have autonomy,” Allen said.
While new ways are being created to help students focus and make learning better and more efficient, teachers have to always keep in mind that social media and the digital age is taking place as more and more advances happen.
“Well, I try to keep that in mind with social media. And for better or worse your attention is divided. And so, keeping that in mind, I try to make my class engaging. I try to keep it relevant, but I also try to deliver things like bite-sized pieces of information,” Allen said.