Holly Elissa Bruno is author of What You Need to Lead an Early Childhood Program: Emotional Intelligence in Practice a book that guides a director through the steps to build respectful, dynamic, and welcoming relationships with families and staff.
Holly Elissa Bruno on: Should teachers have personal cell phones at work?
I depend on my smart phone for an energizing shower of information: texts from my newly engaged daughter, emails from friends and clients, reminders of appointments, contact information, directions, web searches, and frankly for fun surprises. If you told me I had to leave my cell phone at the front desk when I went to work, I would probably balk.
I would balk until I consider this all-too-possible scenario:
While children are joyously engaged on the playground, teacher Lyra feels her cell phone vibrate. Her fiancé, Sam, promised to let Lyra know as soon as Sam hears if their dream honeymoon location has rooms for them. Lyra can’t wait. She scans to be sure the children are fine before she pulls out her phone. Sam texts: “Babe, we can’t get our hotel room unless we make a $500 down payment by midnight! OMG! Where are we going to get that money??”
Lyra instantly hits problem-solving mode and starts texting Sam every idea that pops into her mind until she hears toddler Ezekial screech: “Bad Lonnie! Bad Lonnie hurt Lev!” Lyra looks around to see toddler Lev unconscious beneath the swings, blood flowing from his left ear. Director Tulsi bursts through the playground gate. Lyra drops her phone and runs to Lev.
None of us wants children to be exposed to harm. Having personal cell phones when we work with children sets us up for distraction. In that moment of distraction, we cannot supervise children properly nor can we uphold our part in required classroom ratios. In that moment of distraction, a child’s life can be changed forever.
For these reasons, I believe we need to check personal cell phones at the front desk and access them only while on breaks. In their place, program cell phones can help us communicate with the front office, serve us in emergencies and help with other work related needs.
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