Resources for teachers and students of introductory physics
Note that I'm not in any way making the rule "no texting in the bathroom!" Uh-uh. That sounds condescending, it gives students ideas, and it worries the rule-followers. No rules here, in fact I'm giving students freedom from rules - in other classes, they feel oppressed that they have to ask permission to exercise a simple bodily function, and furthermore that the teacher is likely to nag them about their body's timing. Here, they are free to do as they need to. Yet, trust but verify. Since the phone goes on the desk as a matter routine (not rule), there won't be any texting in the bathroom. Then it's my job to hold activities interesting enough to minimize using the bathroom as an excuse to relieve the boredom of class.
My rule for the past few years that has worked well: I have a small corner of my white board marked with masking tape. A student must write their name and the time they left in that section. Then they go... don't ask me or stop class. I figure many of my students are draftable, and it's insulting that I have to stop teaching to acknowledge someone needs to go pee. I have them write their name down so I always know who is out, and if a student is getting in trouble out of class then I can always take away this privilege and make them ask permission... I have had one student in three years who had to ask, after he was waving to friends in other classrooms and interrupting those classes.
Seems reasonable. Of course, students intent on "phoning out" while using the hall pass will equip themselves with "burners" to satisfy instructors who adopt such strategies. Hall pass use is a sticky wicket; a puzzle not so easily solved. In courses populated y highly academically challenged students, some find a daily need for hall pass usage. And any kind of restriction is virtually impossible to implement. Offering carrots for non-usage works only with students concerned with academic performance. "Pretty good" and "Good enough" solutions are the best we can realistically hope for.
Dean's right that some students will see bathroom texting as a game, to see how they can beat the system and "stick it to The Man." (They use this phrase even when The Man is, in fact, The Woman.) And my response - LET THEM. As soon as we engage as cop, the students engage as robber.I say "please leave your phone" for the same reason the audience is asked "please turn off your phones" before a stage play begins. It's all too easy for anyone, adult or teenager, to fall to the temptation to real-quick check that important text, or to answer a buzzing phone from a number we recognize. Leaving the phone in the classroom, turning off the phone before the performance eliminates that temptation and helps the class/audience maintain an extended period of focus.So what do we say about the audience member who smirks and pulls out a second, burner phone on which to text during the play, and then tells the usher "hey, but I did what you said, I turned off my phone, you can't kick me out, I'm gonna sue?" That's a problem that goes beyond techniques to manage people; that's no different than an extended middle finger to everyone, including the performers and the other audience members. This dumbarse needs to be ushered away toot sweet without discussion. But the existence of the willful fool doesn't mean that we should change our respectful approach to the rest of the audience. "Okay, folks, last night we had a guy texting in the middle of the performance and thumbing his nose at the rules. I'm sick of you audience people not being able to keep away from your phones. So tonight, we're going to collect phones before the show, and anyone who sneaks out a second phone will face criminal charges. Here's Chief Wiggum at the front ready to enforce those rules. We're not playing around, got it?"And that's what teachers sound like when they make draconian rules to deal with one or two uncooperative students. The guy using the burner phone in the bathroom thinks he scored a point against you. But we're not keeping score. Find a way to deal with the individual that doesn't involve class rules. Or just ignore him - the rest of the class may laugh with him, but if no one else is using burner phones, maybe it's not that important for Batman to defeat the Bathroom Texter. :-)