In a recent article, a science teacher was caught jamming student cell phone signals. The teacher’s efforts to redirect his students were met with administrative opposition. Teachers need to engage student in the learning process so that they will not feel the need to use cell phones during instruction.

According to the article, the Florida science teacher became frustrated with the continued use of student cellphone usage during instruction and decided to jam the signals. Once administrators caught wind of the teachers’ efforts they decided to suspend him without pay.

The science teacher wrote a letter regarding using the cell phone jammer and indicated that he wanted keep students academically focused. He felt that it was counter productive to stop instruction to either tell a student to put their cell phone away or to confiscate to place it in a school approved box.

Teachers in this school had the privilege of keeping the cell phone until the end of the school day. Even though the teacher spoke to a local police officer, who indicated that the placement of jammer on a cell tower was not illegal, the usage of the cell phone jammer violates Federal Communication Commission (FCC) statutes. According to the FCC no one is supposed to have a cell phone jammer, even though they are readily available online.

Why are cell phone jammers illegal?

In the United States, cell-phone jamming is covered under the Communications Act of 1934, which prohibits people from “willfully or maliciously interfering with the radio communications of any station licensed or authorized” to operate with a radio signal. The manufacture, importation, the sale of devices designed to block or jam wireless transmissions is prohibited too.

Cell phone jamming is consistent with property theft, because a private company has purchased the rights to the radio spectrum, and jamming the spectrum is akin to stealing the property the company has purchased. Cell phone jamming presents safety problems because it blocks all calls in the area, not just the annoying ones. Jamming a signal could block the call of a babysitter who is frantically trying to contact a parent or someone who is trying to call for emergency assistance.

According to FCC statutes fine for the first offense ca­n range as high as $11,000 for each violation or imprisonment for up to one year, and the device used may also be seized and forfeited to the government.

What strategies could the teacher have implemented to ensure that students did not use their cell phone in class? The cell phone jamming incident happened in May. May is very late in the year to have student cell phone usage problems. The teacher should have developed a discipline process in the beginning of the year or at the beginning of his employment. The teachers needed to redevelop classroom rules with the student input. He could have used the following process for the development of cell phone usage:

  1. Distribute the cell phone policy for the school district to students
  2. Have students to work in small groups to develop rules and consequences for student cell phone usage
  3. Display those rules by the clock in the classroom

Another matter to consider is that students who are know to become disciplinary problems if they consider the content boring. While I do not know what the stage of the science curriculum was, I do know that the cell phone have an enormous amount of science included in its development and usage. The electronics and signal phenomenon should have provided an opportunity as an instructional strategy where students would have been engaged in the learning and no longer a discipline problem?

Teachers can incorporate a system that keeps students continually engaged in the learning process. Another way to accomplish this is to require students to take notes during class. Make note taking a major portion of their classroom grade. Check the student’s notes as they are working individually or in groups. Make sure to put a checkmark on the notebook page or a grade for future reference.

Teachers who are having discipline problems associated with student cell phone usage should use it as an opportunity to engage students in a process that become productive for the students and teacher.

Related Articles

Fed Up Teacher Did Something Illegal To Stop Students From Using Cell Phones in Class

The Science of Why Schools Should Ban Cell Phone Use

Omaha school district eases students’ cellphone use

How Cell Phone Jammers Work


Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

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