Te Kura o Rudolf Steiner Otautahi
Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School
Student Use of Mobile Phones
and Digital Devices
Over the last year, teachers have been concerned about the amount of time students are occupied with mobile phones and digital devices during their free time at school. After many meetings and discussions, the Upper School teachers have written a policy on student use of mobile phones and digital devices which you should have received by email. This policy comes into effect on Wednesday 22nd March. This is a big step for the school, a brave initiative, which we hope will lead our students towards a renewed focus on interacting together in conversation and debate, engaging in social activities, games and sports, and a focus in classrooms on the teachers and learning rather than how to avoid being spotted sending a snapchat to a mate.
Mobile phones and digital devices have an important place in aspects of student learning, particularly in senior classes in which students are preparing to move on to tertiary training or the workforce. This policy has been written to support students in the responsible use of digital devices as a tool for learning. From Wednesday onwards, we are creating zones that are digital device free, namely at all times and in all places except those where teachers have given students permission to use a digital device as part of a specific learning task. No mobile phone usage is permitted from 8.25am until 3.25pm in the school grounds except in designated zones for contacting parents or in an emergency. The designated zones are the school office and upper school coordinators office. Digital devices can only be used in the classroom with teacher permission. Senior students (Class 11 and 12) are encouraged to bring their own device (BYOD) but must sign a Netsafe responsible use agreement/contract tomorrow. The agreement will also be given to Class 8-10 students in the coming weeks as these classes may still use school computers for some class activities. Our intention is to provide more awareness, support and guidance for our ako around responsible use of digital devices, digital citizenship, cyber-bullying and general well-being at school and at home. We hope you can support this at home — ‘mobile phone away / now let’s play’ or some other fun ditty that encourages social activities without the other invisible ‘social media communicator’.
As we introduce this policy we are also introducing clubs within the school. This is being led by senior students and it is wonderful to see students promoting their clubs, teachers supporting them and the school providing space and resources for them to grow. It is our anticipation that the lunchtime clubs and activities will engage everyone in a more dynamic citizenship, and aid well-being. Some of the clubs include; a film club, sport in the hall, a board game club (full of excitement in the Life Science Room), a model club, slack-line activities and a debating club. New ideas are sprouting all the time.
So, what are the consequences for students using digital devices in the digital free zones? Confiscation for the day. The phones will be stored carefully in small zip lock bags in the office or upper school office. All seizures and confiscations need to be reported to the board so a sign-in/sign out form will be kept. Students with repeated confiscations will be referred to the Deans.
Maxine Ude Shankar