A student of mine was on their phone. After several warnings, they were given the choice to put it away or receive a zero for the day. The student pointed at another student in the class that was on his phone, “why are you not taking their phone.” The student they were referring to had finished ALL the assigned work for the day and an extra credit assignment. Not only had they completed all work, but all work was correct. So here is my issue, what is fair in this situation. My goal is to get students to work and learn the material. If a student is responsible and working hard, why not reward them with the right to use their phone. The original student did not see this as fair. In his mind, if one person cannot be on their phone, no one can be on their phone. Whether it is phones, bathroom privileges, or seat assignments, how something is enforced is constantly an issue in class. What I want to teach my students is that when you are responsible, you have more privileges. When you break that trust though, you have less privileges. Students see this as being picked on. Which has led to student’s resistances and even full on rebellion from a student.
Finding that balance is a struggle. Communicating this to students only goes so far. This is another day where I do not have the answer. How do we balance fair and consistency in a classroom? Just as we differentiate material, we need to differentiate classroom management procedures for students. Not every situation or student responds the same, but students don’t see that.