Phone pocket usage in foreign language classes


Photo By Carli Filek

The phone pocket holder hangs in Spanish and French teacher Cristian Hernandez’s classroom. Each student has an assigned pocket for their phone.

     Foreign language students at Kaneland are asked to keep their cell phones in an assigned pocket in their classroom. Students put their phones in the pockets before the period starts and are allowed to take them out before the period ends. Teachers started enforcing this due to the ongoing misuse of phones in the classroom.

     Spanish teachers Julie Larkowski and Michelle Jurcenko started using the phone pockets years before the COVID-19 pandemic, but Larkowski stopped briefly and decided to bring them back in the second semester of the 2021-22 school year. 

     “We realized that the phones were a distraction,” Larkowski said. 

     Spanish and French teacher Cristian Hernandez recently brought the phone pockets into his classroom because he saw that phones were becoming a bigger issue. He saw that even with the new responsibility standard this year, many students seemed to not care.

     “It wasn’t the majority of students. It was probably three to four students in each class,” Hernandez said. 

     Hernandez has seen a difference in students who used to constantly be on their phones since bringing the phone pockets into his class. He noticed participation levels have gone up and that students are more willing to talk to each other. 

     Hernandez said having conversations is “huge in a foreign language class.”

     While teachers have seen improvements, many students do not like that they have to put their phones away for the entire period. Those who are not on their phone during class do not understand why they have to put their phone in the pocket. 

     Sophomore Spanish student Mackenzie Cooper said, “I feel like we should be able to be responsible and have our phones.”

     Hernandez understands that many students are not a fan of the phone pockets and said that he doesn’t always make his students put their phones away. 

     “For the most part it is every day, but sometimes it’s like, ‘Let’s see if you guys can handle it,’ and if they can’t then we will go back to it. If they can, then we will stay off it for a bit,” Hernandez said.

     Other teachers like English teacher Rachel Giles think that it is important for students to learn how to handle having their phones in the classroom. 

     Giles said teaching students “when it is appropriate to use them is the key.”

     While Giles has a very flexible phone policy, she understands why other teachers use the pockets. 

     “Who knows? In twenty years I might be like, ‘Put them away, I don’t know how to deal with it,’” Giles said.