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The Communicator

CHS Social Studies Teacher Plans to Banish Phones Next Year

As the 2023-24 school year wraps up, CHS teachers plan what policies will stay in their classrooms for next year and what they wish to change. For Ryan Silvester, change means removing the most prominent distraction in the classroom: cell phones.
Luca Hinesman

Ryan Silvester noticed a change when the halls of CHS filled back up with students after the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a notable uptick in students’ use of cell phones during class. 

Many of Ann Arbor’s middle schools do not allow phone usage in classes, and some are even stricter, not allowing phones at all.

“Students get into ninth grade and suddenly they’re able to have their phones on them,” Silvester said. “You get to use it all summer and you come back and you’re oversaturated, and there’s no regulations in place.”

Towards the end of the 2022-23 school year Silvester had had enough. He introduced a solution: Stephon. A combination of the words “Steal” and “Phone”, the calculator case found a new purpose as a home for students’ phones during class. But to his shock, the system worked a little bit too well. 

You never realize the unintended consequences of your actions,” Silvester said. “All of those students no longer had their phones and it got them talking to each other a lot more, which was great, but it was to an extreme degree and I couldn’t get them to stop.”

Ultimately, this caused Silvester to disemploy Stephon for this year (the year of 2023 – 2024), in hopes that students had found a system of self regulation that would prevent the major distraction from getting in the way of their learning.  He thinks developing a personal system of self regulation regarding cell phones is very important. 

This mindset comes from taking a look into students’ futures.

“Your bosses aren’t going to take your phones away from you when you grow up,” Silvester said. “The temptation is always going to be there so I’m not going to take your phones away so that you can practice regulation.”

However, with students’ lack of meeting Silvesters self regulation goal this year, Stephon is being brought back next year, for the 2024-25 school year.

“My plan is to re-employ Stephon, who has been receiving unemployment benefits for too long without doing any work in my classes,” Silvester explained.

CHS Freshman Jessica Rothstein is excited to meet Stephon next year. “I think phones are a problem and it’s good that we won’t be distracted by them,” said Rothstein.

However, freshman Noah Lauring doesn’t find Stephon to be fair for students who are not distracted by their phones. 

“I don’t like how everyone has to be punished because a couple people can’t pay attention in class,” Lauring said. “I think that’s a problem that those few people should get sorted out and I don’t think the rest of us should have to have our phones banned based on the actions of a few.” 

Students in any of Silvester’s social studies classes should expect to turn their phones in at the beginning of class and only retrieve them at the end of the 100-minute class period.

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