April 17, 2024

A View from the Principal's Office

September 29, 2023

It is another school year and we find ourselves confronted again by the ubiquitous cell phone.  As the year began there were a number of articles in local newspapers and social media identifying the ways school districts have chosen to address the issues cell phones bring to schools.  It is clear that this is a national concern as well as a Hartford issue.  

I want to share the concerns cell phones represent to our school community and our children.  I begin every year addressing each of our classes and I always include my cell phone cautions.  Cell phones are addictive, they are an invitation to sharing and receiving toxic and negative comments that run the gamut from rude to bullying and oftentimes illegal.  The cell phone is, for some of our students, the most important tool they use and as their young brains develop some lack the filters and management tools to adequately utilize their phone productively.  Not most students, but some, send and receive messages through their phone that are hurtful and disruptive.  

These potential tools for learning are also seen as a barrier to that same learning.  Whether it is the rush of seeing the screen light up or a vibration signaling an incoming message, the need (I am purposefully using this word) to maintain their "snap streak," or just idly and thoughtlessly scrolling, the addictive nature of the phone pulls some students from their learning.  

Hartford High School has taken the position we need to support students' understanding of the proper usage of their device.  We have decided not to "ban" cell phones or require them to be placed in a locked container during the day.  Our policy, which I believe is reasonable and educationally sound, provides students the opportunity to manage their phones - and most are able to do so.  We expect students to be focused on their learning during class, we provide a number of opportunities during the day - between classes and during lunch - for students to appropriately use their phones.  Having said that, we reserve the right to support our students who cannot manage their phone on their own.  Sometimes this means requiring them to place their phone in a box in the main office when they enter the school.  Interestingly enough we have found that some students who no longer have access to the distractions and destructive messages do better - they are referred to the office less and their teachers report they are more engaged.  

Our young people live in a world unlike anything I can imagine.  I have told our students that I am well aware that, if my generation had a similar device, our behavior would have been just as suspect.  I do not believe I could have resisted the draw of such a device and I would have needed the help of trusted adults to help me manage my time, learning, and appropriate usage.

I hope that we can partner with you when we identify the phone is a problem for your student.  It is our shared responsibility to support our learners in this critical skill.

 

Thank you for reading,
Nelson Fogg

 

Nelson Fogg, Principal 
Hartford High School
(802) 295-8610 x *2190
foggn@hartfordschools.net