Cell Phones in Class Driving You Nuts? Try One of These Clever Ideas.

For times when you need their undivided attention.

cell phones in class

Monitoring and controlling cell phones in class is a frequent topic for teachers. Some teachers come down hard on the “absolutely no phones in class” side of the debate, while others accept that cell phones are an intractable part of today’s culture and encourage teachers to embrace technology and weave use of them into their lessons.

One thing both sides can agree upon is that left unmonitored, cell phones can be a huge distraction in the classroom. So for those times when you need your students to put them out of reach, or when students misuse the privilege, here are some clever ideas along with recommendations from teachers on our WeAreTeachers Facebook page to mange cell phones in your classroom.


1. The classic pocket chart

If students have a phone on them when they enter my classroom, they are to put it in the numbered pocket that matches their workstation number. I include chargers as an incentive.—CF

SOURCE: C. Finkler


2. Denim pockets

We all have old jeans that just don’t quite do the trick anymore. Why not hot glue them onto a plastic shower curtain and write numbers with colored Sharpies?

SOURCE: Lorra Metko on Pinterest


3. Cell phone hotel

Here is the “Cellphone Hotel” that I built a couple of years ago. Students’ cell phones get “checked in” for the day, unless I allow them for a specific purpose. I’ve NEVER had a student complain!—JH



4. DIY parking lot

When students enter, I have them put their phones in the cell phone parking lot. Some have claimed a spot as their own, while others put theirs in an empty spot.—RL

SOURCE: R. Littler


5. Cassette holder

Search your basement (or your mom’s basement) for an old cassette rack and transform it into a cell phone holder. Place it in the front of the class where everyone can keep an eye on them.

SOURCE: Pinterest


6. Vintage Coke crate charging station

Students earn a bonus point for everyday they put their phone in the charging station at the beginning of class and keep it there until the end of class.—CT

SOURCE: C. Thompson


7. Hanging charging station

I use my cell phone pocket chart as an incentive to get to class on time. There are only 12 pockets so the first ones to put their phones in the pocket get the charging cords.—HR

SOURCE: H Rogers


8. Chalkboard tray

Lining up cell phones on the chalkboard tray is a cheap and easy way to have your students check their phone in for the class period. Have chalk available so they can label their slot, or pre-label them.—LM

SOURCE: Pinterest


9. Cell Jail

If I see students with their phones, they get one warning then it goes into the jail. They must do something kind for someone else to get the phone back.—CM

SOURCE: C. Mefford


10. Jail envelope

I use these 4×6 envelopes and I use adhesive Velcro for the flaps, that way I hear if/when a student opens it up before the end of class. If I see a student’s phone, I set the envelope on their desk, they put the phone in. They can keep the envelope wherever they want, and they get the phone back at the end of the period with no hassle if they followed all the rules. It has alleviated a lot of stress and struggle for my students and I, and I have not had to write any referrals for cellphone use since using these envelopes.—DH

SOURCE: D. Hayden


11. Chum bucket

Any phone seen out during class goes in the Chum Bucket for the rest of class. And we all know they don’t have Krabby Patties in the Chum Bucket!—AE

SOURCE: A. Elizabeth

Do you have an original way to deal with cell phones in class? Add it to the comments below.



Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a passionate teacher, writer and mom who loves learning new things, traveling the globe and everything Zen.

Leave a reply